Developer proposes major new west side community

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — An enormous vision for a new part of Albuquerque has a developer pushing to turn thousands of acres of empty land into a whole community on the Westside and it has the attention of county planners.

In the next week, Bernalillo County planners will look at this proposed development called Santolina. The developers behind it envision nearly 14,000 acres on the Westside covered with homes, parks, schools, retail space, office space and more.

A look at the preliminary plans imagines a dense city all the way out in what is currently undeveloped mesa land.

“Look at something that has really not been spoken for,” said Enrico Gradi, Community Planning Manager for Bernalillo County Planning & Development Services.

Speaking of the Santolina development, Gradi says the development is designed as a “community master plan” for Albuquerque’s Westside. The development would begin just west of the current city limits and would be bordered by Interstate 40 to the north.

The current land owners, Arizona-based Western Albuquerque Land Holdings, now want to develop the property which they bought several years ago after the Westland Development Corporation pulled its application for the Zacate Community Master Plan.

“This is kind of the first large kind of snap shot for the entire area,” said Gradi.

Bernalillo County planners are now in the process of the first general, preliminary review of the project’s large scale ideas.

“Commercial uses, office uses, residential uses, industrial uses, recreation uses, open spaces, things of that nature,” said Gradi.

Those proposals could bring nearly 100,000 people to the area. Developers believe Santolina could be home to roughly 37,000 homes and apartments and 75,000 jobs from businesses located in the area. The plan is similar in theory to the big ideas that shuffled around at Mesa Del Sol southeast of Albuquerque.

“It’s an opportunity really to actually really think about planning where none has occurred before,” said Gradi.

There’s also a big anticipated impact on the surrounding Albuquerque community. Developers are tossing around the idea of making two new I-40 interchanges on the development’s north border.

Santolina would also butt up next to Atrisco Heritage High to its east-side and the Metropolitan Detention Center to the west.

“We hope people look at what’s been submitted,” said Gradi.

Planners say that’s why they’re doing a major evaluation on the project right now with public meetings scheduled throughout this summer.

Eventually though, the county will make a decision and this one is getting a lot of attention.

“There’s really an opportunity to create a semi-autonomous community so that people don’t have to drive across town,” said Gradi.

The Bernalillo County Planning Commission will meet on March 26th, 2014 to talk specifically about transportation related issues with the project. A decision on this preliminary plan, without fine detail, could come sometime in the fall.

Developers behind the Santolina plan say they’re looking to build the entire project over a 40 to 50 year period.

More information about the project can be found on the county’s website.

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