By Rich Brown, Director of Community and Economic Development
Right now, the City is investing in and guiding what is likely to be the most momentous development in Santa Fe in the 21st century — the redevelopment of the 64-acre Midtown site in the center of the city. To get a sense of its scale and scope, look at the transformation of the Railyard since 2000. Midtown will include many of its features and attributes — residential and commercial mixed uses, various cultural amenities and outdoor spaces, enjoyment for families by day and nightlife after dark — and surpass it by several orders of magnitude.
You may ask, how so? An impressive plan that was informed by a robust public-engagement campaign is being generated by the City, built on core values of sustainability, equity, and a commitment to progressive public engagement. We have a team of expert consultants and experienced staff who have drafted the frameworks and foundations for public partnerships to help build the site and achieve community and public policy goals.
It’s human nature to ask, what’s in it for me and mine personally? To start, we are focused on delivering: 1,100 new housing units, including an unprecedented number of affordable homes, to help alleviate the city’s broader housing crunch and create a resident community with live-work spaces; open spaces for gatherings and recreation; a visual and performing arts center; expanded multi-media and film production facilities and jobs, with training for local residents; and a public library that’s a center for community and creativity. Additionally, we are focused on attracting local businesses for a broad range of enterprises.
The plans under consideration lay the foundation for dynamic, organic, community-led growth in the future with a governance structure for ongoing community participation. The approval process currently getting underway is expected to conclude in November with a Governing Body vote.
Within one to two years, we anticipate that the Garson Performance Theatre and Production Studios and the new library will be bringing the site back to public life. Soon after that, additional projects will include affordable and market-price housing development, open spaces, and public programming with community arts groups. The Visual and Performing Arts Center Arts Center will come online within three-to-five years. By the 10-year mark, we should all be experiencing and enjoying a vibrant new city center in the geographic heart of Santa Fe. Envision everything from a fun night out, to a business opportunity, to a place to live and work in a new district that adds to our traditional Santa Fe culture and economy.
If you haven’t done so already, I urge you all to plug into the process, review the plans and the process on MidtownDistrictSantaFe.org, and share the excitement of those of us who have been working on the project. I’m proud of the work that’s been done so far and I’m eager to learn how the public and the City Council feel about it over the next couple of months. It’s no overstatement to say that a well-planned vision for the future is now up for review, and that it looks like decades of progress ahead for all residents of our beloved Santa Fe.
This article originally appeared as a "My View" contribution to the Santa Fe New Mexican on September 3, 2022.