From the Las Cruces Bulletin 05/06/2016
Standing in the gutted shell of the former JC Penney Building at 201 N. Main St., local developer Bob Pofahl and architect Steve Newby challenged city officials to imagine the space as a brewery, restaurant and coffee house.
The group was touring the building following a visit to the Las Cruces Civic Plaza, where construction is in high gear with work on the stage and splash pool under way.
What Pofahl and Newby projected is not a distant “maybe” but a project for which construction is about to begin.
Newby said the 201 N. Main St. building began as three 25-foot retail spaces. Formerly known as the Camunez Building, 201 N. Main St. was home to J.C. Penney from the 1920s to the ’70s.
A portion of the space, recently vacant more than five years, will become home to Roadrunner Brew House LLC, Pofahl said. Brewery patrons will be able to bring food from the adjacent barbecue restaurant into the pub, he said.
“A lot of proposed uses for the space were discussed,” Pofahl said. “A mercado, offices, a sound stage. We arrived at the decision we need more restaurants Downtown. With more restaurants there will be more people Downtown at all hours.”
Bank of the West reimagined
The 201 N. Main St. renovation is one of several to be undertaken near the Las Cruces Civic Plaza by Las Cruces Community Partners (LCCP) development group, which includes Pofahl, Newby, Doug Wright and Tom Paul.
The Bank of the West building at 201 Church St. also is undergoing an LCCP transformation, with renovations inside and out. While the bank will continue to occupy a portion of the main floor, a restaurant with an outdoor patio on the south side facing the plaza — as well as shops — will occupy a portion of the first floor.
“The bank’s cooperation has been unbelievable, making the plaza happen,” Pofahl said. “They closed their drive thru, but they’re not going away.”
Zia Engineering is occupying the third floor and Smith Engineering has expanded to the second floor. Officesare currently being prepared for additional occupants.
Additional projects by Las Cruces Community Partners include repurposing the historic county courthouse, constructing a hotel with 90 to 100 rooms on the site of the old jail and a two-story retail facility on Main Street.
Pofahl said a feasibility study has been completed and LCCP will proceed with plans for the complex.
Meanwhile, GMB developers led by Max Bower is renovating the Amador Hotel, demolishing My Brother’s Place and then constructing buildings on the site to house the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau, a restaurant and bar, a martini bar, a pub and taproom and a coffee shop.
“We know them very well and totally endorse that project,” Pofahl said. “Cleaning up and doing something new at the south end of Downtown is a great improvement for Downtown Main Street.”
Pofahl said LCCP’s goal is to capitalize on the momentum that will follow the opening of the plaza, which is projected for Saturday, Sept. 17.
“We want to follow very closely with restaurants and multi-family residential development,” he said.
The vision calls for a 62unit apartment complex facing Water Street.
The first floor apartments would be designed with 12-to 14-foot high ceilings so the spaces could be converted to retail use, Pofahl said.
Reconstruction of Water and Church streets for two-way traffic is “extremely important as the next big step to revitalize all of Downtown,” Pofahl said. “Retail doesn’t work well on one-way streets.”
He said the street and streetscape work the city will undertake will make the two streets look more like Main Street and also will slow traffic and make the streets more pedestrian- friendly. The project also is intended to help integrate downtown with the Alameda Depot and Mesquite Street districts, he said.