ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Demand for space in shopping centers and other types of retail buildings gave a strong boost to third-quarter leasing activity in the Albuquerque metro area, according to the latest retail market report from commercial real estate services firm CBRE.

Retail construction was clearly a bright spot, with nearly 205,000 square feet of the new space coming on line with new tenants, according to the report. “The amount of completed projects in the market has been unmatched during the past seven years,” the report states.

Construction completed year-to-date amounted to a total of 256,000 square feet, which was 36 percent higher than total construction completions in 2015.

Nearly half of the quarter’s retail leasing of this new product was concentrated at Winrock Center in Uptown, according to CBRE. Other notable new constructions were the Imperial Building in Downtown, where a grocery store opened, and the 61,000 square feet added to [email protected] Hills in Rio Rancho, where a couple of big box stores set up business.

Net absorption of existing space was another matter, partly due to Sports Authority closing two stores and Sears at Coronado Center downsizing. However, these spaces are expected to turn over quickly in the fourth quarter as new national tenants enter the market, such as The Container Store, which will take up part of the Sears’ space.

Looking ahead to 2017, new construction will continue as new retailers home in on the metro area. “Activities will likely be concentrated on smaller projects, rather than big-box construction and leasing,” the report forecasts. “New restaurants on pad sites are expected” in the new year.

Broker takes accolade

Industrial broker Jim Smith of CBRE was named 2016 Realtor of the Year at the Commercial Association of Realtors New Mexico annual luncheon. The award “reflects the highest form of recognition for personal and professional achievement by a member of CARNM,” according to the organization, which comprises over 425 real estate brokers throughout New Mexico.

Smith, who is also a first vice president at CBRE, joined the company as an industrial specialist in 2006. He has lived in Albuquerque since 1964 and has over 13 years of industrial real estate experience, along with over 24 years of experience in business ownership, management and sales in the construction and industrial distribution industry.

Cali firm launches beachhead

California-based Lockehouse Retail Group has set up business in New Mexico. The local effort will be led by longtime Albuquerque broker Michael Butler, the co-founder of Base5Retail, according to the company.

Butler has spent the past 12 years working with landlords and major tenants in the region. He will play a key role as Lockehouse looks to leverage its brand across the Mountain West. His previous professional experience in the San Francisco Bay Area and ties to the Pacific Northwest also “are a great fit for the Lockehouse footprint” in attracting new tenants to the Albuquerque metro area, said Steve Cutter, the firm’s founder.

Lockehouse currently serves a variety of major tenants throughout California and lists several million square feet of premium retail real estate with tenants such as Corner Bakery Cafe, Crunch Fitness, UFC Gym, Banfield Pet Hospital and Cricket Wireless.