Skip to content
CityLab
Economy

Albuquerque Is Winning the Streaming Wars

New Mexico spent millions in corporate incentives to bring a massive Netflix production hub to a struggling suburban development outside its largest city. Will it pay off? 

In November 2020, Netflix announced an expansion of its Albuquerque Studios facilities, pledging an additional $1 billion production spending over the next 10 years. 

In November 2020, Netflix announced an expansion of its Albuquerque Studios facilities, pledging an additional $1 billion production spending over the next 10 years. 

Photographer: Sam Wasson/Getty Images North America

A massive 300-acre complex in the middle of the New Mexico desert, miles from the site where the U.S. develops nuclear weapons, does seem like a good setting for a future episode of Stranger Things, the hit supernatural nostalgia trip from Netflix. That’s where the streaming series will shoot as it resumes filming its fourth season this year. But the crew from Hawkins, Indiana, was not drawn to Albuquerque by the nuclear mysteries or proximity to Roswell aliens. It took corporate tax incentives to lure Netflix to the Land of Enchantment. 

The steaming platform is investing heavily in its Albuquerque production hub, located in a sprawling development on a desert plateau southeast of the city called Mesa Del Sol. In 2018, the company bought ABQ Studios, an existing production site, at a steep discount and promised to film a billion dollars’ worth of projects in New Mexico. The $30 million acquisition gave Mesa DelSol — a master-planned community designed by famed New Urbanist architect Peter Calthorpe that had fallen on hard times — a new lease on life.