540-Acre Project Will Hold Mix of Housing Developments, Workplaces, and Park Lands

 
The New Mexican 

Thousands could live in a new subdivision on the city’s southern edge and hundreds could work there following Wednesday’s late-night approval of preliminary plans for Las Soleras development.

The project – on 540 acres in the wedge-shaped area between Interstate 25 and Cerrillos Road, near the Fashion Outlets of Santa Fe – has been in the works for about eight years and was the focal point for a litigious debate between the city and county.

The City Council unanimously voted after 10:30 p.m. to change the city’s land-use plan for the area and annex the acreage into the city limits, as it agreed in a court settlement between the city, county and the developer. The council also assigned zoning to various tracts with a mix of high-, medium- and low-density housing as well as nonresidential uses.

The approval paves the way for about 200 acres of commercial, institutional or office spaces, and between 1,500 and 2,500 housing units there, as well as a helicopter landing pad and tall building on land owned by Presbyterian Hospital. A joint city/county transportation committee has also asked the state to stop the Rail Runner Express commuter trains at the site in the future.

Las Soleras agreed to donate about 18 acres to the Santa Fe Public Schools and set aside about 25 acres for a park site. Both issues, however, were topics of discussion by some city councilors who wanted more park space and more land for schools.

As a condition of approval added Wednesday, project planners agreed to provide another 20 acres of park land that would be for “active” uses such as ball fields.

Individual developers will now be able to pursue specific development plans on the tracts defined by Wednesday’s decision. One possible tenant is the state, which has eyed a large area for a potential office complex. Details of projects on each tract will require approval from the city Planning Commission.

“We are not building on the property. We are bringing in developers who will,” explained Karl Sommer, an attorney for developer John Mahoney and his partners at Beckner Road Equities Inc.

Home builder Theresa Cardenas, for example, said she planned to build an “active living” senior housing project there as well as a possible long-term care center for the elderly.

Planning consultant Jim Siebert said infrastructure, such as utilities and roads, is not likely to be completed before about three years from now, with other build-out to follow.