City mum on proposals for Santa Fe’s Midtown Campus

An unspecified number of proposals have been submitted for the redevelopment of the Midtown Campus. Luis Sánchez Saturno/New Mexican file photo

Santa Fe’s 64-acre question — what to do with a defunct college campus in the middle of town — is beginning to get some answers.

They just won’t be immediately revealed.

An unspecified number of proposals have been submitted for the redevelopment of Santa Fe’s Midtown Campus, though city officials were mum on how many applications were submitted, who submitted them or their contents after Thursday’s 2 p.m. deadline. The city Purchasing Department first wants to sign in the submissions and assign them into one of four categories.

The July 31 request for expressions of interest sought master developers for the entire property, developers for only certain portions of the campus, businesses and academic institutions, and business tenants, said Daniel Hernandez, project manager for the Midtown Campus, once the home of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.

“The purchasing and finance departments have to review and make sure all the responses are complete,” he said.

Hernandez said the applicants will be identified in mid-November, but proposals will not be made public until final selections have been made by the city’s governing body.

A date has not been determined for a final selection, city spokeswoman Lilia Chacon said.

The city has owned the property since College of Santa Fe shut down in 2009. It was leased to the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, closed in the spring of 2018, leaving many buildings with contents still in place.

Though the full breadth of interest still isn’t known, some respondents were willing to share their visions for the campus.

• Allan Affeldt heads a team called Central Park Santa Fe, which wants to master plan not only the campus, but adjoining city, state and U.S. Forest Service properties.

“We think we can entice tech people from Silicon Valley and the labs,” said Affeldt, who is better known for restoring century-old railroad town structures such as the recently opened Legal Tender in Lamy and the Castañeda Hotel and Plaza Hotel, both in Las Vegas, N.M. “This is a true live-work urban density campus.”

Affeldt said he wants to build more than 1,000 housing units of varying varieties around communal space. That could provide some of the housing for workers at the more than 200,000-square-foot technology office park he proposes.

“There is a huge gap in tech office space in not only Santa Fe but Albuquerque and Los Alamos,” Affeldt said.

He also proposes a 5-acre park weaving through the campus, other park settings, a 1,400-person amphitheater, reactivating the Greer Garson Theatre Center, studios and a possible hotel. He said the build-out could cost $400 million.

He wants to demolish half the buildings but keep those prized by the city, including the Garson Theatre and the Fogelson Library.

• Dr. Allen Steele has a smaller vision, proposing to use four buildings to relocate the Advent Life Church from its four locations in Santa Fe and also create a veterans center as temporary housing for those returning from war zones in collaboration with the Veterans Integration Center in Albuquerque.

He wants to use three buildings for church uses, including a counseling center, student center and a school serving pre-K through eighth grade, and a community meeting room. The fourth building would be for veteran housing.

• Several theater groups formed a limited liability corporation called LiveArts Santa Fe, headed by Argos MacCallum, executive director of Teatro Paraguas. It planned to submit its own proposal but ended up joining up to operate the Greer Garson Theatre Center with a larger proposal, said Cheryl Odom, a LiveArts organizer and costume designer at Santa Fe Playhouse.

The Garson has been unused since the university closed. She noted several theater companies rely on rental warehouse space.

“Nobody has their own rehearsal space, costume shop, scene shop,” said Odom. “If we have one central building, it would be better for the theater community.”

What’s next

After proposals are processed, the packets will be handed off to a Midtown Campus steering committee composed of city division directors, who will evaluate the proposals. City staff and technical experts will give study session updates to the governing body in December, city spokeswoman Lilia Chacon said.

In January, the city will have civic engagement events to share Midtown Campus information and seek community guidance, Chacon said.

The end result could be a master developer for the entire project or several developers with separate projects. The governing body could also select specific tenants for the project.

The city chose the request for expressions of interest rather than the more common request for proposals because the RFEI allows the city and chosen party/parties to do the due diligence together to “massage a proposal,” Hernandez said.

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(4) comments

Khal Spencer

Choose the proposals that will do the most good for the local economy, period.

Linda Garrido

I participated in citizens' input process a long while back. Nothing came from the 4 proposals that we citizens viewed at the Southside Library. I was tickled to see that one of my ideas - a senior citizens center next to a pre-K and daycare center - was included in one of those proposals; and that proposals also put a teen center in that same cluster. :) But now I don't know whether or not that will happen in this next iteration of our Midtown Campus. I like Affeldt's concepts in this article. And he does great development work!! I'd sure like to be part of the Massage group......instead of a citizens' group where the City says "look what we're doing" in January. Not sure about a church group having a private campus and a school on our public campus.

Stefanie Beninato

IT seems to me that the process is always about a preordained number and type of choices given to the public by the city. Although applications have to be complete, it seems like a poor excuse not to allow the public to see who has applied and all the actual proposals. The listening sessions in January--a half a year plus after the proposal period seems a little too little a little too late especially since this process gives the city the ability to massage the proposal with the applicant. Think backroom deals for sure.

Mandi Ravan

Mayor Webber, you truly need to do more outreach and use a better process for this or you wont believe the pushback!!

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