Building up Santa Fe’s multifamily housing inventory

Ivan Tarol of Albuquerque, with Larry Reetz Construction, works at Tuesday at Broadstone Rodeo, a new apartment complex on Rodeo Road. When completed, the project will have 188 units. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican
With 355 units, Madera Apartments is poised be the largest apartment community in Santa Fe. A constuction start is pending for fall 2020. Courtesy image

With as many as 2,155 apartment units either proposed or under construction in Santa Fe, observers have different views on what role these large projects will play in Santa Fe’s housing crisis.

Santa Fe faces ultra-tight housing availability and high rental rates — a double-whammy that plagues the city on a variety of social and economic levels, experts say. The arrival of new apartments, lots of them, will shake up that paradigm, though exactly how no one can say for certain.

“Bringing in these market-rate apartments will free up more affordable units,” said Alexandra Ladd, the city of Santa Fe’s housing special projects manager. “Existing apartments will have to bring rents down a little bit. Higher-income renters [in existing apartments] will move to nicer apartments and this frees up units not available now to lower-income renters.”

Only three large-scale, market-rate apartment projects have emerged in Santa Fe since 2004, the year the city imposed an affordable housing ordinance requiring 15 percent of units to be affordable, later softened to allow developers to pay an in-lieu of fee instead supplying affordable units.

But big apartment projects are lining up for construction starts later in 2019 and 2020 in Santa Fe — one promising 355 units, a pair at 240 units and another pair at 180.

The largest apartment project now under construction is Broadstone Rodeo, 1475 Rodeo Road, with 188 units planned for a March completion.

That’s good news for some, and others hope it will have a ripple effect for those already struggling to afford their current dwellings.

“My hope is some of the [existing] apartments with fewer amenities will be able to lower rents,” said Carolyn Luna-Anderson, former executive director at the Life Link, a behavioral health program that provides supportive housing. “When we have had occupancy rates less than 97 percent, we had landlords willing to reduce rents by $10 or $25.”

• The Madera Apartments, with 355 proposed units off N.M. 599 near South Meadows Road. This will be the largest apartment complex yet in Santa Fe. Nearby South Meadows Apartments (earlier called Gerhart Apartments) and the Turquesa Apartments behind Santa Fe Place mall are adding 240 units.

The math adds up to a widely acknowledged shortage of about 6,000 apartment units in Santa Fe, said Todd Clarke, broker at New Mexico Apartment Advisors.

Madera will have 20 two-story buildings in Santa Fe Pueblo style near the Santa Fe River Trail, a paved pathway for bikes and pedestrians. Project developer Carlos Garcia hopes to start construction in spring 2020 and have the first units available by fall 2020.

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