Jan. 21—Santa Fe's Planning Commission gave its blessing for another major apartment complex at Thursday's meeting.
The commission approved development plans for the 332-unit Las Soleras Village development, which would take up 17.8 acres of an undeveloped 26-acre site on Las Soleras Drive. If later approved by the City Council, the development would rise behind and across from Promenade Boulevard and adjacent to McDonald's and the State Employees Credit Union on Cerrillos Road.
The site would include 15 three-story buildings with 150 one-bedroom apartments, 150 two-bedroom apartments and 32 two- and three-bedroom townhomes with attached garages, according to development plans.
The development was proposed by Florida-based DeBartolo Development, owned by former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.
Rich Hartline, vice president of development for DeBartolo Development, told the commission the apartments would be a boon to nearby businesses such as Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center.
"We are really excited about being literally in the shadow of the Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center and being located where we are at, near the community college," Hartline said.
The project is DeBartolo Development's first in New Mexico, Hartline said.
The development was approved without any comment from the public, but commission members did raise concerns before voting.
Two questioned the applicants on the affordability of the project and why the applicants opted to pay the city's fee in lieu of providing 15 percent of the units as affordable housing.
"We, here on the commission, are very concerned about affordable housing and housing variety and density and the missing middle housing," Commissioner Dan Pava said. "It's an issue here in Santa Fe."
Hartline said while he couldn't quote any rental prices, he could say the economics and "financeability" of the development made the fee-in-lieu a better option for DeBartolo.
"We have no problem with creating affordable housing," Hartline said. "But in going through and using our consultant and analysts, we decided to go the fee route."
Traffic concerns were also raised. A traffic impact report provided to commissioners issued failing grades for two Cerrillos Road intersections linked to the development.
Mike Gomez with Santa Fe Engineering said the intersections failed based on old modeling from the city that doesn't account for any right-on-red turns at the intersections. Once those turns are accounted for, Gomez said, the intersections pass.
Gomez said he has been in contact with the city's contracted traffic engineer to update the documents.
Commissioner Dominic Sategna warned the developers about veering too far from the "Santa Fe style." The project includes green accents made out of wood, while the remainder of the building is stucco.
"This building is definitely giving me a Capitol Flats vibe," Sategna said. "In the city of Santa Fe, there have been plenty of objections to tall buildings and not necessarily following the Santa Fe style."
Capitol Flats apartments opened in 2020. City residents had raised concerns about the development's metal sheeting, height and location.
City senior planner Lee Logston said while the development aligns with city code, staff members have communicated similar concerns to DeBartolo Development.
Hartline said DeBartolo is not trying to bring a "Southern California chic" to Santa Fe and the final product will mesh with other Santa Fe developments.
"We can't show it in this presentation, but as we start to apply all the wallpaper and textile and art and everything else we bring into it, it's not meant to create a new Santa Fe; it's meant to honor what you guys put forth."