Downtown is the “Heart of the Community”

We are incredibly grateful to Southwest Airlines and Project for Public Spaces for the generous 2018 Heart of the Community grant award of up to $125,000! We look forward to the wonderful projects we will be able to do for Albuquerque Civic Plaza to benefit our community!

Heart of the Community is a signature outreach program of Southwest Airlines with a mission to build connections that bring people together and strengthen communities for a more resilient future. Launched in 2014 with lead partner, Project for Public Spaces, the Heart of the Community grants provide financial and technical assistance to local community partners who seek to bring new life to their public spaces.

Southwest Airlines is in the business of connecting people to what’s important in their lives, whether it be to people or to places. By supporting central, vibrant, active public spaces, the Heart of the Community grants facilitate connections, which are the foundation for more resilient communities.

The goals of the Heart of the Community grants are to:

  • Help communities bring new life to their public spaces, transforming them into vibrant places that connect people and strengthen communities
  • Raise awareness of placemaking as a mainstream approach and a catalyst for building sustainable, healthy, inclusive, and economically viable communities
  • Encourage activation, participation, and volunteerism in public spaces to benefit local communities


Have you heard of Project for Public Spaces? PPS is a nonprofit planning, design, and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.

In 2013, a partnership between PPS and Southwest Airlines was born and has since awarded $3.6 million dollars in grants and placemaking technical assistance to 20 organizations in the United States and Mexico City. We are incredibly grateful to have been one out of five organizations that received the Heart of the Community grant in June of 2018! Thanks to this generous grant and the community’s feedback we will be able to implement a new planning phase for Civic Plaza!

Your experience is incredibly valuable to us! Email us (link) to let us know your vision of how Civic Plaza can improve your health, happiness, and well being.


In 2015, we were awarded a $200,000 grant from Southwest Airlines, in partnership with the Project for Public Spaces, for placemaking initiatives on Civic Plaza! This Heart of the Community grant has transformed the area in front of the Convention Center into a gathering space for the community. We’ve worked with the community, the City of Albuquerque, and partnered with the managers of the Convention Center, SMG, to reimagine and activate this important piece of our city. The results have been transformative for Civic Plaza, and more is coming. The grant has been met with huge success and has launched a series of events on the plaza, including ABQ Food Fridays, Movies on the Plaza, the Silver Spoon (a refitted Airstream that now serves as a mobile kitchen), festivals, and much more, as well as provided physical amenities to the space, such as tables, chairs, umbrellas, and plants. We’ve seen a huge turnaround in the perception of the plaza. Now, our community views this public space as a great amenity to Downtown, and a fun, exciting, and safe place to be.

You can learn more about the project right here.




The Silver Spoon Is Open!

Downtown’s latest mobile kitchen is now open on Civic Plaza– in a refurbished ’67 Airstream! The Silver Spoon has been serving ABQ Food Fridays all season long. This mobile kitchen has housed different chefs from varying Albuquerque restaurants throughout 2016, making it a true culinary incubator! We’ll be posting events for Silver Spoon, and you can always check as well. This project was made possible by the “Heart of the Community” grant from Southwest Airlines.


We are the DowntownABQ MainStreet Initiative, and we are a community redevelopment organization, State designated since 2008. Our mission is to promote and support Downtown’s economic, social, and creative vitality through community-driven projects and programs. A revitalized and vibrant Downtown is a symbol of community economic health, local quality of life, pride, and community identity. We #LoveABQDowntown and we want you to love it, too!

If you want to stay informed of Downtown news and events, email and we’ll get you signed up for the Weekly e-newsletter, which goes out every Thursday afternoon to Downtown stakeholders, businesses, and others interested in all things related to Downtown.

If you have news or an event to share, or a great Downtown photo, email and we’ll include it in the next issue. Submissions should be received no later than noon on the Tuesday prior to publication. Content should be relevant to Downtown, events no more than two weeks away, and we may edit down for size and clarity. Any images should be sent as a jpeg with your email.

Our Board list is located here.


Why do you #LoveABQDowntown? Is it the coffee shops? The people? The awesome breweries? The historic Hotel Andaluz? Civic Plaza? We asked this question to attendees of a TEDxABQ event and had them write love letters to Downtown and postcards to their favorite businesses. You can do this, too- and we’ll deliver the letter to the business for you. Fill out the form below, or email and your love letter will get sent off! (Just be sure to let us know which business or person you’re sending it to!) Share your #LoveABQDowntown. (Thanks to Michelle Negrette for making these amazing postcards possible!)

Here’s a “Love Letter to Downtown”, courtesy of Tim Trujillo.

“Dear Downtown,
I know who you really are. You’re a young neighborhood, akin to an adolescent, still trying to figure it out and I’m just fine with that.

We’ve all been through adolescence and can empathize. Everyone wants you to be something and someone, but you are just not ready to say exactly who or what that is quite yet. You’re evolving. On one hand, you are home to over 15,000 jobs that provide employment for citizens from the entirety of a metro area nearing one million residents. On the other, you are the entertainment center of the state hosting several of the best performance venues offering an array of live local, national, and international acts as well as the latest blockbuster movies. You offer culinary experiences that range from downright thrifty to flavors and complexity that rival the best of Nob Hill and Santa Fe. You provide the hub for the region’s transportation network, offering service to and from every corner of the metro and places beyond. You are a growing education center, soon home to Innovate ABQ and CNM’s STEMulus Center. You even host a farmer’s market that is as good as they come. Whatever you do, don’t feel sorry for yourself, downtown. You have so much going for you whether others see it or not.

As someone who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, I have seen you change and it is certainly for the better. Back then, you were merely an office park. Sure, you provided more jobs than you do today, but you’re much more dynamic these days for all the reasons that I listed. You are also rapidly becoming a true urban neighborhood, soon to be home to thousands of residents. The media makes it sound as if you are limited in your demographic, suggesting that you only attract residents to your so-called low-income housing. What they don’t understand is that your housing is not low-income, but is instead mixed income. From the affordable Silver Moon Lodge and Silver Gardens Apartments to the market rate Anasazi and 100 Gold Lofts, you are drawing all demographics of income earners because they are attracted to you for who you are and what you promise to be. That makes you more exciting than any single neighborhood around. You are one of the first two neighborhoods to fully rebound from 2007 prices. Obviously you’re doing something right.

I have witnessed so much change and improvement. Several residential projects either started or restarted. Recently, you lost a few sandwich shops, and maybe a donut shop here and there, but gained a wider variety of options in return. This transition has not been easy, but you’ve managed to achieve this while the economy has remained largely stagnant and without a dime of public investment.

We all know you are not like your brothers and sisters of downtown Denver, Portland, or Austin, nor should you try to be. Those are unfair comparisons when you consider their downtowns are the centers of metro areas two to four times as large. But you are not unlike them some 15 to 20 years ago when they began to receive investment from their citizens. You might not believe it today, but in a few years you will attract press from all over the country asking what you did and how you became so popular. Soon, everyone will be asking you to go to the prom. Ultimately up to the citizens of this city and state to invest in you to help you be your best.



Be A Friend of Civic Plaza!

Friends of Civic Plaza is relying on the community to continue the excellent series of programs that have been launched with the Southwest Airlines grant. That’s where you come in! Become a Friend of Civic Plaza and support the free events and community programming you’ve come to expect in downtown’s premiere public space. Please donate to help us reach our goal of making 500 friends and raising $12,500.

Interested in a larger sponsorship for the Plaza? Click here to download the digital brochure. All funds directly support programming and events on the plaza. With your support, we can continue to bring high-quality and valuable events, markets, shows, and activities to the public. These programs encourage community vitality and public stewardship, and reaffirm that downtown Albuquerque’s future is bright and worthy of support.

In the spring of 2015, the DowntownABQ MainStreet Initiative was awarded a $200,000 “Heart of the Community” grant from Southwest Airlines, in partnership with the Project for Public Spaces, for placemaking initiatives on Civic Plaza. Since then we’ve begun the transformation of Civic Plaza with our project partner, SMG (the managers of the Convention Center), into a vibrant, exciting, and authentic community space. These new programs, called Civic Plaza Presents, include Movies on the Plaza, ABQ Food Fridays, children’s events and programming, and much more. We’ve held volunteer events for Earth Day, and added colorful tables, chairs, and umbrellas for folks to linger and enjoy this great public space. Become a friend of the Plaza, and help us continue to bring high-quality programming and events to downtown Albuquerque.

On September 25th, the Friends of Civic Plaza campaign launched! Hundreds joined us on September 25th on the plaza to celebrate the launch of this campaign and the award of the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant. This “Wizard of Oz” themed evening featured tapas and food trucks, beer & wine, children’s activities, a chalk art mural by We Talk Chalk, a costume contest, and more! The event was free, but $25 donations to “Become a Friend” will includes complimentary tapas, beer & wine, and a chance to win a Southwest Airlines ticket. The screening of “Wizard of Oz” at 8pm wrapped up the evening as part of Movies on the Plaza. All proceeds went to the Friends of Civic Plaza.


Downtown Maps

Check out our Downtown guides for restaurants & galleries, the contemporary art scene, coffee shops & breweries, historic buildings, public murals, and parking! Just click on the links above and print out your guide. Thanks to our partners at 516 ARTS and Ripe, Inc. for helping us with mapping.