Nob Hill Neighborhoods: Mesa Grande Architecture
The Mesa Grande Neighborhood & Upper Nob Hill
The Mesa Grande Neighborhood sits on the eastern border of Nob Hill, & is a fabulous mix of larger commercial lots bordering Central Ave, dense residential housing in much of the neighborhood, & single-family residences in the south section. Platted in 1931, it is the only Nob Hill Neighborhood that straddles the Central Ave/Route 66 corridor, making it one of the most dense & diverse.
Starting at the eastern edge of Granada Heights, Mesa Grande fills in the southern portion of the Nob Hill Neighborhoods. It extends north along Washington St, into & past the Central Ave/Route 66 corridor, & ends on Copper Ave, which is the southern border of the Broadmoor Neighborhood.
Starting from the southern half of Mesa Grande, mature-landscaped blocks of single family homes sit just south of the one-way Coal Ave arterial. These five blocks form a significant cluster of simple, pared-down Mid-Century Modern homes, spread out between Morningside, Montclaire, Sierra, Graceland & Valverde streets.
Heading north a block, the adjacent streets consist of mixed duplexes, triplexes & moreplexes, like this historic Territorial apartment complex, built early in the life of the neighborhood. Many of the apartments are one-or-two story, four-to-six-unit complexes, often sitting discretely in the neighborhood. Other complexes in the area are commercial-oriented, catering to small businesses & offices.
The usual growing-city-need for smaller living units & other affordable apartment-living opportunities helped to create medium-sized apartment complexes that have been integral to the Nob Hill Neighborhood of Mesa Grande for decades. A few of these were built along Lead Ave near Morningside Park decades ago. A lot of recent infill apartments have allowed more folks to call Nob Hill home, like the new De Anza apartments, or the contemporary Strell Apartments, on the edge of Mankato & Upper Nob Hill.
A lot has changed in Mesa Grande, & a lot is slated to change. Its still a beautifully eclectic area. It has many wonderful architectural remnants from the early days of Nob Hill, like a great former Mid-Century Modern residence turned into a modern daycare facility. Just down the street, as described by Modern Albuquerque, the famous Loyolas Restaurant, sitting a block east of the Mesa Grande Neighborhood, has a "folded eave sunscreen, it would not be out of place in Southern California."
Upper Nob Hill in Mesa Grande
Some folks refer to the business section of the Mesa Grande Neighborhood as Upper Nob Hill. As the Nob Hill Neighborhoods were the first platted parts of the MetroABQ to be built up on what was then the East Mesa, Upper Nob Hill naturally has a higher elevation & is distinct unto itself, yet still fits nicely into the rest of the neighborhoods. The commercial sections of Mesa Grande include some pretty cool history.
The mini-neighborhood is bounded by the mixed residential/commercial Silver Ave to the south, Washington St to the east, Copper Ave to the north & Morningside to the west. That six-block section had seen better days: early on, in the 1930s & 1940s, when the numerous Motor Lodges lined the road, the Route 66 Mother Road provided places to stay & eat along the way from Chicago to Los Angeles. One of the motels, the now historic De Anza Motel, is an iconic fixture on the famous Route 66 Mother Road. It has weathered the ravages of time & stands refurbished now, ready to provide hospitality for the next century.
Over the last 30 years, most of those Upper Nob Hill motels were torn down. Recently, as the city evolves & expands, those lots are being developed, with numerous, needed infill apartment buildings. Along the most dense sections of the neighborhood, even more large apartment infill is filling in those recently-empty lots.
The MetroABQ is a fast-growing city & Upper Nob Hill has more than a dozen large vacant lots. The area is well-located: on a public transportation route. a few miles—& a quick commute—to Downtown. It also sits a few miles west of Uptown, a few miles from Kirkland Air Force Base & Sandia Labs, a few miles from the Presbyterian & Lovelace Hospital complexes (with over 20,000 employees).
Smart infill & density planning include taller & larger buildings closer to public transportation nodes. Typically, they should scale back in height & density the further you go off the main thoroughfare. That is witnessed well in Upper Nob Hill & the Mankato/CV Business District next door.
There are no parks specifically in the Mesa Grande Neighborhood including Upper Nob Hill. However, there are numerous greenspaces nearby. The 1.4 acre Morningside Park sits just to the west of Mesa Grande, & the Southeast Heights & Ridgecrest Neighborhoods, just to the south, have numerous large & smaller parks, like the major Ridgecrest/Carlisle Greenspace, that runs for ten blocks through the neighborhood.