Developer Mike Mechenbier says he hopes to start moving dirt within the next three weeks for the construction of a Home Depot retail center.

The store will be on one of five pieces of commercial property to be developed in front of Los Lunas High School, across from Grant Boulevard on the north side of NM 6.

Mechenbier is subdividing 20 acres into five lots that’s 12 acres for Home Depot and eight acres for the other four businesses.

“I think the entire center will generate gross sales of $150 million a year,” Mechenbier said. “The village is going to benefit from the tax base immensely.”

In addition to Home Depot, and similar to the Valencia Plaza shopping center, the site will include 100,000 square feet of retail space, including room for a clothing store, a main bank branch location and two food establishments.

On Wednesday night, the Los Lunas Planning and Zoning Commission tabled the request by Tierra West LLC, on behalf of the Home Depot, which submitted an application for a preliminary plat for parcels of lands of Huning Limited Partnership within the San Clemente Grant, for the purpose of building the retail center.

Part of the process of carving out this commercial land includes the discussion of infrastructure plans and the response of the village’s engineer, Molzen-Corbin.

The questions pertaining to water, sewer and drainage need to be resolved before the preliminary plat can be approved, said Community Development Director Art Mondragon.

“Right now, we’re in a position to review these things and ensure quality growth,” Mondragon said. “We’re at a point where we can handle these issues of development. I’m pleased with how the schedule for Home Depot is moving.”

The planning and zoning commission will review the item at their next meeting on Wednesday, April 24, before the Los Lunas Village Council takes action at its May 9 meeting.

Chairman Ambrose Chavez encouraged the small group in attendance on Wednesday night to come to the next meeting to take up the subject of Home Depot on April 24.

Any new business on Main Street will be required to meet Main Street Overlay standards for development, Mondragon added.

As business development continues to increase in Los Lunas, the village is preparing for the building of a Wal-Mart Supercenter on the west side of I-25. Construction is slated to start soon, with the opening of the store in January or February of 2003.

Mechenbier also has plans to combine both the commercial and agricultural worlds in Belen.

“That balance is important. It’s something I’ve always stressed,” he said.

To encourage traffic in Belen, Mechenbier plans to build a motel, along with fast food restaurants, at the South Belen exchange.

“We’re close on that. We’ve already started the dirt work. It’s going to be beautiful. We plan to keep a bunch of land agricultural at the old farm.” Mechenbier

is an area farmer.

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Jennifer Harmon