The continuing presence of the Covid-19 pandemic is being seen as one of the reasons why a major developer has pulled out of the much-anticipated repurposing of a 64-acre former college campus in midtown Santa Fe.
Dallas-based KDC/Cienda Partners, the master developer earlier selected by the City of Santa Fe for the much-publicized redevelopment project, additionally mentioned several other reasons for its exit.
In a letter to Santa Fe officials, the company noted that the “complications and uncertainty caused by Covid and government-ordered shutdowns have created greater risk and cost to this development that neither party could have anticipated.”
Ever since the Santa Fe University of Art and Design closed its doors in 2009 due to financial issues, city officials have been involved in an intensive public input process seeking ideas for what to do with the tree-lined site, which is populated by more than two dozen buildings.
The public input process regarding the property saw hundreds of residents participating in a series of sessions discussing what a repurposing would ultimately look like.
Santa Fe subsequently entered into a development agreement with KDC/Cienda last spring, generally proposing a mixed-use future for the campus, with the creation of commercial, office, and retail space, as well as new affordable housing.
Now, in the wake of KDC/Cienda’s withdrawal, Santa Fe officials say they still plan to move forward with the project, particularly because the city is currently saddled with an annual debt service on the land amounting to just under $2 million.
One of the unanticipated challenges of the project, according to KDC/Cienda, turned out to be the condition of some of the buildings on the site.
“Existing and probable other contamination will add cost to the demolition of existing buildings, the re-use of the buildings to be renovated, and infrastructure development,” the KDC/Ciendalatter said.
A Santa Fe governing session scheduled for January 27 will discuss, among other things, a mutual termination of the original development agreement with KDC/Cienda.
By Garry Boulard
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