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Santa Fe Midtown master plan goes to the city council Wednesday

Santa Fe Midtown artist's sketch
Santa Fe Office of Community and Economic Development
An artist's sketch of what a redeveloped Midtown streetscape might look like.

After four years of planning and a restart when a developer walked awayfrom the project in early 2021, the Santa Fe Midtown Campus, formerly the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, has a new master plan going to the city council Wednesday. It covers things like zoning and land use for sections of the parcel that would become homes, businesses, and parks.

Officials say the master plan will guide how the future policy goals for the site will fit in. For instance, rezoning will allow for options such as higher density — and more affordable — housing.

Midtown Redevelopment Project Manager Daniel Hernandez, says there would be public spaces like a plaza and park, a new public library, and room for commercial, art and innovation spaces on the 64-acre lot.

There will also be up to 1,100 homes and 30% will be affordable and income-restricted.

Santa Fe Affordable Housing Director Alexandra Ladd said this commitment is larger than the current city requirement that 20% of new homes for sale and 15% of rental homes be affordable.

“We’re aiming high here," Ladd said. "One out of every three homes will have a price restriction and go to an income qualified consumer.”

She encouraged residents who might want to live in the Midtown development to reach out to non-profit housing agencies like Homewise or The Housing Trust that will supervise the affordable housing units.

When the first Midtown developer cancelled their contract with the city almost two years ago city councilors looked forward to a chance for more community involvement in the planning. Santa Fe Director of Community and Economic Development Rich Brown wrote in the Santa Fe New Mexican the master plan and community development plan were "shaped through involvement of community members, neighborhoods, nonprofits, landowners, business owners, city staff and other nongovernment partners."

If the city’s governing body approves the plan, the next step will be to issue a request for proposals from developers to re-imagine some of the buildings for reuse like the visual arts center, library and theater. Those RFPs would start going out later this week. The entire project will take years to complete.

The governing body’s 5 pm meeting will stream online and will include time for public comment.

This story has been updated to reflect that RFPs will seek to renovate the visual arts center rather than build a new one.
This report is part of our Your New Mexico Government project, a collaboration between KUNM radio and New Mexico PBS. Support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.

Kaveh Mowahed is a reporter with KUNM who follows government, public health and housing. Send story ideas to kaveh@kunm.org.