SANTA FE — Meow Wolf, the wildly successful Santa Fe arts business that has announced plans to expand to four major American cities, is now planning to build a four-story, 68,000-square-foot office addition at a former Caterpillar plant on Camino Entrada at the south end of town.
At a public meeting Monday night, Elisa Montoya, arts corporation’s vice president of operations, said the addition would help accommodate Meow Wolf’s growth and serve as the company’s headquarters.
Meow Wolf has announced that it will build interactive exhibits in Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.
“But Santa Fe is our heart. We’re always going to have a huge fabrication presence here, and a creative presence here,” she said.
Montoya said Meow Wolf is currently using about eight different office sites to house about 100 employees.
Alexander Dzurec, of Autotroph, the architect hired to design the addition, said once completed the expanded building could accommodate 500 or more employees.
Meow Wolf, which opened its interactive House of Eternal Return exhibit in a former bowling alley on Santa Fe’s Rufina Circle in March 2016, purchased the old Caterpillar plant the following year to serve as a manufacturing and fabrication site to build its exhibits.
While details of the new addition are still being formulated, it would likely be located at the southwest corner of what is now a 52,000-square-foot building on 4.7 acres of land. Part of the site for the expansion is an approximately one-acre strip owned by Santa Fe city government.
Jennifer Jenkins of JenkinsGavin property management, who led Monday’s Early Neighborhood Notification meeting at the city’s southside branch library, said Meow Wolf intends to purchase the piece of land, which would require City Council approval, at market value and construct a parking lot that would accommodate about 150 vehicles.
The existing building is about 35 feet tall, Dzurec said, and the addition could be built up to 65 feet and still be within the city’s limitations for structures within industrial zones.
Meow Wolf is seeking an amendment to a development plan approved in 2011 while the Caterpillar plant was still in operation to would allow for offices, according to Jenkins.
Because plans are so preliminary, there is no cost estimate.
“It’s going to be an expensive building,” she said, acknowledging the cost would be in the millions.
Jenkins said the next step is to conduct traffic studies, which will take place the week after Labor Day, to measure traffic volume at more than a dozen nearby intersections.
“So this is a pretty robust traffic study,” she said.
She said she expects Meow Wolf to submit its amendment application by mid-October. The application would be reviewed by several city departments before it is considered by the Planning Commission, she said. If everything stays on track, she said the Planning Commission could consider the amendment at its Dec. 5 meeting.
If approved at that time, construction could begin in the spring, she said, and construction of the addition could take as long as two years.