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October 29, 2021
Governing Body Considers Phase 3 of Tierra Contenta

Governing Body Considers, Phase 3 of Tierra Contenta

Santa Fe’s preeminent planned community is reinventing itself with a range of affordable and workforce housing, innovative street design, green infrastructure features, and a trails network with easy access to the Southside Library, schools, the future Teen Center and SWAN Park.October 26, 2021 – On Wednesday, October 27, the Governing Body will consider an amendment to the Tierra Contenta Master Plan that will launch the development of Phase 3 of the master-planned community. Since the mid-1990s, 2,300 homes have been built in Tierra Contenta, of which over 40% were provided at subsidized prices for income-qualified renters and homebuyers who earn less than 80% of the area median income (AMI).


Tierra Contenta was initiated when the City of Santa Fe purchased 1,400 acres from a bankrupt developer in the early 1990s. Working closely with the Enterprise Foundation (now Enterprise Community Partners), the City created a master plan for the property that envisioned Santa Fe-style neighborhoods connected by pedestrian-friendly streetscapes to schools, commercial nodes, and an extensive network of open space, parks, and trails. Most importantly, the overreaching goal for the new community was that at least 40% of its units were affordable to those with low and moderate incomes.

To ensure that its vision was achieved, the City also created the Tierra Contenta Corporation (TCC), a nonprofit development corporation that continues to serve as master developer. TCC develops the spine infrastructure for each phase of development, negotiates land sales to individual builders, and enforces the affordability goals of the master plan. The City holds a mortgage on the property which is paid off incrementally every time land parcels are sold.

The amended Master Plan for Phase 3 proposes several innovations. Rather than designating entire parcels with homogenous zoning categories, the master plan amendment will allow density to be flexible between parcels and encourage a mix of residential housing types. Incentives such as density bonuses, relaxed stepbacks and setbacks will be available to support the creation of “missing middle” housing – row houses, duplexes, and courtyard apartments – housing at a scale between a single-detached home and a multi-unit apartment complex.

“For many families, this ‘missing middle’ provides an affordable option, either as a starter home to buy or as a rental option that offers more space for kids and pets than a standard apartment,” says Daniel Werwath, Acting Executive Director for the Tierra Contenta Corporation. “This kind of housing is not currently available in the new housing marketplace, but you see it in the older, historic and most desirable areas of Santa Fe. Our goal for Phase 3 is that it won’t look like a stereotypical ‘cookie cutter’ kind of neighborhood.”

Other incentives will be offered for energy-efficiency features, sustainable infrastructure design, and access to outdoor amenities.

This final phase of development encompasses approximately 400 acres, of which 288 (Phase 3A) are owned by the Tierra Contenta Corporation and are the sole subject of the proposed amendment to the Tierra Contenta Master Plan. The remaining acreage (Phase 3B) belongs to the New Mexico School for the Deaf, which has no immediate plans to develop its portion. 

Interested parties may observe tonight's Governing Body proceedings here.




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