by Greg Pena,
“A City on the Rise and a Destination in the Making”
With the City of Vision history beckons from nearby attractions in New Mexico that evolved over the centuries, with the Anasazi Indians to visits from the Hispanic explorer Coronado, it has a unique cultural tapestry of traditions and legends weaved into its bright future on the horizon. The City of Rio Rancho began in the 1960s on 55,000 acres of land on the outskirts of Albuquerque. Today, Rio Rancho offers a cultural diversity within its population of over 82,000 and continues to strive to maintain its appeal.
Rio Rancho was recently named the “51st best place to live in America” in 2010 by CNN’s Money Magazine, as well as the “State’s Best Place to Raise Kids” and “Fastest Growing City in New Mexico” by Businessweek Magazine. Since 2007, when the City’s new $16 million City Hall was constructed Rio Rancho’s new 160 acre City Center development continues to leap frog ahead. Included in that first phase of new construction was the Santa Ana Star Center, featuring 26 luxury suites, 500 club seats, VIP lounge, a club lounge, and four club suites. This facility is truly a “multi-purpose” venue capable of hosting a variety of events from trade shows, conventions, graduations, performing arts, concerts, sporting events, youth sports, thrill shows, and family events. Currently under the management of Global Spectrum, the Santa Ana Star Center has also added permanent tenants to its residence, with the arrival of the New Mexico Stars Indoor Football League and the New Mexico Mustangs, part of the North American Hockey League, which is largest USA Hockey-sanctioned Junior A league boasting 26 teams from across North America. Both teams are sure to excite spectators and provide a thrilling night of sporting entertainment.
Following these two anchor tenants of the City’s master-planned city center, in December 2009, Hewlett Packard (HP) opened its customer service and technical support center adjacent to City Hall. While Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) Rio Rancho built over 34,000 sq ft of energy efficient classroom space. The first building of the University of New Mexico (UNM) West Campus opened and began serving students in January 2010.
Outside the new city center Rio Rancho also continues to grow with the construction of Premiere Cinemas, a 14-sceen movie theater and Cinemark just announced plans to open a new Century theater in Rio Rancho at The Village at Rio Rancho project, a 75-acre retail project, just north of the now-under-construction State-of-the-Art
Presbyterian Medical Center.
As one can see the City of Vision is unfolding atop the desert mesa and turning those dreams into a reality, all the while improving the quality of life for it residents and visitors alike. However let’s not let the construction dust blur our sight of what is already available in Rio Rancho. From J&R Vintage Auto Museum, featuring over 60 fully restored vintage automobiles to Coronado State Monument, where Francisco Vásquez de Coronado—with 300 soldiers and 800 Indian allies from New Spain—entered the valley while looking for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. Matheson Wineries where vintner Mark Matheson can educate you on how New Mexico wine making is one of the oldest in the country, rivaling many of the more popular wine destinations, to our local eatery Turtle Mountain Brewing Company featuring brick oven pizzas, award winning microbrews and green chili cheeseburgers.
In Sandoval County you can take in, the quaint Village of Corrales, Corrales Winery, art galleries, local restaurants, horseback riding and Casa San Ysidro, a historic working Spanish mission. Tour the beautiful Jemez Mountain Trail with its scenic beauty and historic Gilman Tunnels, along with the culture of the Jemez Pueblo, Walatowa Visitors Center and Jemez State Monument where you are sure to be delighted. While there you must stop in Ponderosa at Ponderosa Winery and sip some wine and watch the sunset over the vineyard.
It would be a shame not to mention another great feature of Rio Rancho, which is its convenient proximity to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Here you will find some of the state’s other popular destinations and attractions. With so many attractions to numerous to list from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, to the World’s longest aerial tram, to Albuquerque Old Town, to the Historic Plaza of Santa Fe, Rio Rancho simply offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore Central New Mexico. To learn more about what Rio Rancho can you offer you on your next trip to New Mexico visit www.RioRanchoNM.org or call toll free (888) 746-7262 and find out how the City of Vision is becoming a reality. Meet the future, be enchanted