Debate heats up over proposed Santa Fe apartments

SANTA FE (KRQE) – Tensions are running high in Santa Fe over plans for a new apartment complex that a lot of people think will ruin their quiet old neighborhood.

City Council met at the convention center at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The City expected a massive turnout for the apartment discussion.

There has been a lot of feedback both for and against the project that is in its early stages.

“We don’t want piecemeal development. We want a plan,” said Anna Hansen, who opposes the El Rio apartment complex concept long the 2700 and 2600 block of Agua Fria to the north.

“I don’t think density is the enemy, I don’t think smart infill development is bad for neighborhoods,” said Daniel Werwath, affordable housing advocate.

Tierra Concepts wants to build El Rio in an old neighborhood between Agua Fria and the river in the heart of Santa Fe. They’re asking the city to rezone the land to make it happen.

Werwath says it’s a good idea, especially to attract young people to the city.

“I think about 30,000 people drive into Santa Fe every day for work that don’t live in our city and that’s primarily a housing issue,” he said.

Early plans are for a 399-unit complex with 60 low-income units.

But those plans have caused controversy among residents. A Facebook group called “El Rio Apartments Dialogue” captures a mix of opinions on the subject.

“This is agricultural land that we really need to preserve in the city, this is the last piece of agricultural land,” said Hansen.

Hilario Romero, who lives in near the open land along Agua Fria, said it’s an issue of keeping the environment as it is and preserving history.

One of his major concerns is increased traffic along Agua Fria with the apartment complex. He also cited a need to keep Santa Fe’s history alive by not allowing the land to be bulldozed-over.

“It really is this transition between the urbanization we see in downtown Santa Fe and this historically traditional village,” said Kim Shanahan, the executive director of Santa Fe’s Homebuilder’s Association, said.

Wednesday night was not the first time the developers came before the city. The company initially suggested a 450-unit complex, but scaled it back to 399 in an attempt to appease the public.

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