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Plans afoot for old Canyon Road school

The former Manderfield School on Canyon Road would become art studios, a coffee shop and apartments under a proposal shown to neighbors Wednesday night. (Eddie Moore/Journal)
The former Manderfield School on Canyon Road would become art studios, a coffee shop and apartments under a proposal shown to neighbors Wednesday night. (Eddie Moore/Journal)
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SANTA FE — The old Manderfield School on Santa Fe’s Canyon Road may be getting some new life.

A tentative plan for the property by a private developer calls for art studios, a coffee shop and 10 residences.

The old school building would be kept intact and house the commercial space and six apartments. Four new casitas and accompanying carports would be built along the property’s western and southern boundaries.

The plans were unveiled last week at an early neighborhood notification meeting at First Presbyterian Church on Grant Street that attracted more than 20 people.

Manderfield, located across from Cristo Rey Church, was designed by famed architect John Gaw Meem and built in the 1920s. After years of operation as a grade school, Manderfield began housing the Santa Fe County Head Start program in 1968. However, Head Start departed several years ago and Manderfield has since been empty.

Santa Fe Public Schools currently owns the 1.48-acre property but plans to sell it to Clare and Michael Maraist. Clare Maraist, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, said the sale is contingent on city approval of the new development.

Conceptual plans call for about one-third of the old school, roughly 4,000 square feet, to be dedicated to art studios and the coffee shop. Apartments will be built out in the remainder of the building.

Jennifer Jenkins of Jenkins Gavin Design, an agent for the project, said four requests will be submitted to the city: to rezone the property from five residential units per acre to a residential arts and crafts district; for a general plan amendment to go from public/institutional zoning to residential medium-density; for a variance allowing for 1,000 more square feet of commercial space than would otherwise be permissible; and for a special-use permit for the coffee shop.

Jenkins said a tentative schedule calls for public hearings before the Planning Commission in July and City Council in August or September. The project’s design will also eventually need approval from the Historic Districts Review Board.

A groundbreaking probably won’t occur until at least summer or fall of 2014, Jenkins said.

Several people at the ENN meeting gave tentative support to the project but expressed concerns about traffic, density, parking and other issues. Neighbors of the property said they hope the new development won’t cause privacy, drainage or other problems for the surrounding homes.

Maraist said she envisions the coffee shop, in particular, as a neighborhood-type spot and not a high-traffic hangout.

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