Fleming: Let’s Make Our Town Cohesive!

Photoshop image of Central Avenue reimagined. By purchasing CB Fox, the county could rent it affordably to retail and restaurants that already exist in this town but desperately need better locations, so they are visible and accessible! Courtesy/B. Fleming

By BRENDA FLEMING
Los Alamos 

The county is accepting recommendations on whether to buy the CB Fox building and the Real Deal theater, and if they do purchase them – what to do with them. 

We have great small businesses in this town. We have a beautiful, walkable, bikeable mainstreet – our beloved Central Avenue. Yet, there is a major disconnect. Those small businesses are scattered around this town like Easter eggs in the Amazon Jungle. And, more and more office spaces are moving to our beautiful, yet dying mainstreet. 

The lack of cohesiveness has made our town feel kinda dead.

A new employee at my work said he drove through the main stretch of Los Alamos before moving to New Mexico, and was like, “There is nothing there!” And then he chose to live in Santa Fe. 

My thought is for the county to purchase CB Fox and rent it affordably to retail and restaurants that already exist in this town but desperately need better locations so they are visible and accessible! 

Fleur de lys, Seeking Chameleon, Cricket Window, Village Arts, Candy Man music shop, etc. – can you imagine how amazing it would be if they were all on Central Avenue? Our beautiful, walkable downtown would actually have businesses to walk to! 

The former CB Fox stretches down almost the entire block of Central Avenue, and with the recent renovations to Central Avenue, this is a perfect place for patio seating, window displays and folks dropping dollars while walking between Bradbury Museum, the summer concerts and Fuller Lodge. 

(Perhaps there would have to be some application process for businesses, and perhaps locals voting on what businesses they would see thriving on Central, as it is in a way, an investment from us taxpayers…)

I pushed for a multi-recreational path a few years back that is in process of being built. It will go from the Rim Trail behind Smith’s Marketplace to downtown (Fuller Lodge/Ashley Pond) and end at the PEEC Nature Center by the Aquatic Center. How cool would it be to bike, stroller, walk, wheelchair, etc. through this town and have all the businesses just right there, all together, easily accessible to all? 

I have to admit I find it easier to just go to Starbucks or Smith’s because the small businesses are crammed into little corners of this town that are inconvenient, hidden and ultimately forgotten about. Not everything in this town needs to be a secret! 

I have read some of the ideas about bringing back a movie theater and Tween Center. While a Violet-Crown style movie theater would be awesome, I think it’s too risky to do on the public’s dime. And, as a former tween in this town, I remember just walking around, going out to coffee, hanging out at random businesses, Gordon’s concerts. In other words, the best type of tween center may come in the form of continuing to make our downtown more walkable between PEEC, restaurants, the library, the skate park, the new warm-water pool, Ashley Pond concerts and parks – I just can’t imagine a tween wanting to be boxed into some center.

As for purchasing the Reel Deal, I think the Reel Deal theater isn’t exactly a fantastic location – it’s kind of awkward visibility-wise and on a steep hill – and while the pool and its new swim area will be across the street, it is not a good place to cross the street or walk. I think this is a good building to leave for some private investor for businesses that don’t need high visibility, or an ambitious entrepreneur willing to take the risk of reopening a movie theater.

In conclusion, we have a gorgeous venue for concerts at the Pond, and a beautiful, walkable mainstreet with views of mountains in all directions. Friday night concerts have drawn people from all over the state – but those people come and don’t see our hidden businesses. Locals often forget or are inconvenienced by our hidden businesses. So why not create a sustainable situation for the businesses we already know and love? And a lively, awesome mountain-town downtown that we all enjoy? 

That’s my opinion, and I encourage you to voice yours! 

Here is the link to the county survey:

https://stories.opengov.com/losalamoscountynm/published/PcJVdQpex

P.S., Is the Los Alamos location for Candyman music shop still open? I have a huge music family. My kids play violin and piano and my husband has more instruments than I want to share. YET, we never made it to Candyman music shop, because it was “somewhere out on DP road” and well, I just forgot about it! If this music shop was on Central Avenue, I am sure we would have wandered in Every. Single. Time. we went downtown to grab a coffee or hang out at Ashley Pond. Just sayin… 

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