Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

This generation of Tierra Contenta affords plenty of opportunities | Real Estate

A big story came out a few weeks ago that received little attention given its potential impact on affordable home ownership in Santa Fe.

The final development phase of Tierra Contenta was approved by the city council.

Phase 3A, the remaining lots from the original 1995 master plan (with the exception of a large lot owned by the New Mexico School for the Deaf), is finally moving after a decade of rest.

Those who have never been to the southern neighborhood or have moved here since 2008 are likely to have no idea of ​​the scope and vision of the original master plan. The Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University showered her with praise and awards for her forward-thinking thinking.

National experts with strong ties to Santa Fe penned his vision and helped found the independent not-for-profit development company that oversees the division of land and adherence to principles. They helped secure support and funding, and worked with Mayor Debbie Jaramillo’s administration to get the city’s full support.

They spoke of a desire to promote the patterns of development in the years which it had taken the east side and the southern capitol area to do in decades. The side streets were narrower and more curvy; Backyard alleys were promoted. Affordable housing was set at 40 percent, with qualifying income ranging from 50 percent to 80 percent of median income in the region.

They were striving for nominal sustainability, a concept that was still young in the early 1990s. What they didn’t know at the time was how critical the maximum water and energy savings would be. Selling to the public from Santa Fe will require more than 40 percent affordability. It will require the least amount of water possible, going further than our already leading national conservation legislation.

The city and the new administration have an interest in seeing this happen.

Connecting the loop of the two legs of the Paseo del Sol and integrating the associated spinal care infrastructure will cost more than $ 12 million in today’s dollars. The city can hold off an industrial loan like it has on other projects – repaid by builders and developers, not taxpayers. With this city gift to Tierra Contenta Corp. the city can ask for more. And get it.

It’s more than just being a sustainability tyrant. While certain deep conservation needs like water abstraction and reuse or microgrids powered by rooftop and community solar will certainly increase costs, the ability to market and sell Tierra Contenta as a beacon of sustainability will pay off.

Deep subsidies need to be found to ensure affordable housing meets the same high standards. It is also likely that the price range is affordable between maximum market price apartments and 40 percent, which will be larger than the existing Tierra Contenta.

Homewise, for example, Santa Fe’s leading affordable housing nonprofit, builds and sells homes ranging from $ 200,000 to nearly $ 1 million.

Families earning 50 to 65 percent of the median income in Santa Fe, the lowest price range required, can only afford homes under $ 200,000. A 1,200-square-foot home that costs (maybe) $ 200 per foot, not counting land and infrastructure, is an unsustainable money loser for a developer / builder. Except for Habitat for Humanity.

The projections assume that 5 percent of the expected 1,200 homes in Phase 3A will have to be delivered under $ 200,000. That’s 60 lots that nobody wants. Except living space. With its 30-year interest-free mortgage, volunteer work, and 500 hours of homeowner equity, Habitat can do just that. Mainly with donated land, builders earn tax credits for affordable housing.

The money-losing hook is also slipping out of the developers’ necks.

Net zero energy and maximum water savings in super cheap houses? This is currently the Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity standard. Market-priced houses can increase it.

Kim Shanahan has been a Santa Fe Green Builder since 1986 and a sustainability consultant since 2019. Contact him at [email protected]

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