In La Tierra Nueva, as in most areas in Santa Fe, the supply of homes that are on the market is low and prices have risen. Begun in 1980, the neighborhood now has 56 homes, one house under construction, and 21 lots remaining. "We have three lots for sale, starting at $160,000," said Tara Earley, who partners with Nancy Lehrer (www.santafeluxurybrokers.com) at Sotheby's International Realty.
They are both longtime residents of La Tierra Nueva —Lehrer has lived there for 22 years and Earley for 18 years. They have had some famous neighbors and visitors from time to time: Marsha Mason and Neil Simon once had a home in La Tierra Nueva, and George and Laura Bush sometimes visit friends there.
Totaling about 1,200 acres, the community has underground utilities, private wells and septic systems, and a homeowner association. Amenities include a staffed gate house and a tennis court, and the equestrian-friendly La Tierra Nueva borders BLM land. "Seven or eight properties have barns," Earley said. "The riding is incredible. You can ride all the way down to the Rio Grande." Lehrer added, "Most of the lots allow four horses, and the bigger lots you can have up to six."
Streets include Longhorn, Shorthorn, Brahma, and Hereford, and Chisholm Trail and Goodnight Trail — named after four cattle breeds, a famous cattle-drive trail in Texas and Kansas, and cattle rancher Charles Goodnight. The theme relates to the area's history. In 1960, Zannie Garcia used an inheritance to pay the Frank Bond family for a 31,000-acre ranch west of Santa Fe. She and Bob Weil, who were married at the time, were the original developers of what came to be known as La Tierra.
"At the start of it all, PNM needed a pipeline through there but they didn't have condemnation rights. I traded them a right-of-way for water rights for over 3,000 homes," Weil told Home in 2002. "I developed La Tierra starting in 1975, then came La Tierra Nueva, then Salva Tierra, then Tierra de Oso."
Las Campanas, the best-known community on the former ranchland, was developed by the Lyle Anderson Company, which bought 4,700 acres in the 1980s and created a master plan for 1,717 homesites. Sales began in 1992. The lots in La Tierra Nueva range from 10 acres to more than 27 acres, larger than those in the adjacent Las Campanas subdivision. All of the roads in La Tierra Nueva are gravel, also unlike Las Campanas. "People like it in La Tierra Nueva, because they have the privacy," Lehrer said, adding, "A lot of people that live there are members at Las Campanas."
La Tierra Nueva has a good variety of houses, some with extraordinary features. An example is 224 Headquarters Trail, which Gary Bobolsky, Lehrer, and Earley are listing for $5,100,000. The 9,316-square-foot home on more than 11 acres boasts a lavishly appointed, and beautifully faux-painted, in-home theatre that's modeled after the 1929 Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, as well as an elevator, a stone torreon, and a three-bedroom guesthouse.
The Realtors stressed that such features are not typical of homes in La Tierra Nueva, because there is no "typical." Nor is there a stylistic norm. There are traditional "Santa Fe Style" homes as well as houses with more contemporary design elements. "We have people driving down the roads in a Rolls Royce next to somebody on horseback," Earley said. "That's the range of what's going on out there."