Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Zia Station. Fail

I about peed my pants when I read about the scale of this project. $200 million and 620,000 sq. ft. on 28 acres. That's no ABQ Uptown in terms of cramming buildings into a land parcel, but after phases I and II, I thought this project might blow the Duke City project out of the water. A true transit oriented development and true mixed use! Could this finally be my urban village nirvana in northern NM?

Upon further research of the details, my ephemeral hopes were completely and utterly destroyed.

First off, the architect is none other than the same group that brought us sprawling ABQ Uptown. Don't get me wrong, I love the Apple store and Borders but I hate constantly dodging traffic while giddily racing to fondle the latest Mac gadget or purchase the latest Metropolis magazine. The entire design, while neat, was poorly executed and failed to deliver what was intended.

In similar fashion, the plan view appears to contain a thousand lines representing parking spaces that line every building. I'm not referring to parallel, on-street parking, either. See for yourself.1,600 parking spaces? Wow. Isn't the intent of transit oriented development to lend itself to a citizen's ability to use leg power for meeting one's basic needs? The scale of this development does not suggest there will be any major retail that might have a regional draw. Therefore, its only patrons will be the living/working population. Potentially, Santa Fe residents may park in one of the convenient parking options and ride the bird to the Duke City. But 1,600 parking spaces? Where's the incentive to not drive?

Lastly, the cost. How much for the residential units and what rates for the offices and retail? The NMBW states that office rents will be at the upper end of the Santa Fe market. It also states that apartment rentals will be around $1000. We're left to assume that retail rates will be high as well. It will be interesting to find out who's willing to shell out the dough for this site. I have no doubt this project will lease up rapidly, none the less. Retailers will want to be a part of this in an effort to suck money out of the employees of companies paying the high lease rates.

Ramble, ramble, ramble. It's another step in the right direction. I often place a lot of blame on DPS Architects for poor design but I know our archaic building codes are hell to work around (like placing 1,600 parking spaces in this site). Santa Fe is a cut above the rest when dealing with such issues. I like what it's attempting to do but I think it falls short in providing the Santa Fe area what it truly needs in the way of lower to middle class housing. I'm utterly envious Santa Fe is attracting this type of development ahead of the RailRunner's completion to the site, whereas Albuquerque is still awaiting a developer with the cojones and $ to do the same.


ABQist said...

Where's the condos? Seems like just another fancy apartment building like ABQ Uptown. It's hard to take these projects seriously without true mixed-use for-sale residential. I agree Tim, very disappointing. Could have been something special.

Tino said...

Presumably the city has some rules regarding the amount of parking required, and the developer isn't seeking an exception to the rules.

Anonymous said...

don't blame the developer for the amount of parking - that's what the City Different code requires. Do you think the developer wants to build parking spaces at over $20,000/space for the proposed underground parking?

Also useful to keep in mind that this is a concept plan - nothing has been submitted to the City yet. these comments are 180 degrees from the comments of neighborhoods (too dense, not enough parking, etc.)