A 500-acre tract of land west of Kirtland Air Force Base intended originally to become a 55+ community at Mesa del Sol is now destined to house new employers. The land use change was approved unanimously by City Council on Wednesday.
“What we’ve found is we have a great need for more of an employment area that is adjacent to the existing employment area,” said Mesa del Sol CEO David Campbell.
Changing the land use from strictly residential would allow for the construction of such facilities as office, industrial, and research and development spaces.
Since Netflix originally moved into the development, its footprint has exploded from 30 acres to 330. The Albuquerque studio is expected soon to support approximately 2,500 employees, Campbell said.
Campbell said it’s too early to say how many employers or employees could be supported by the new 500-acre space. “First, we need to make this change on the map,” he said.
Campbell said the goal is to attract additional employers to the area, joining such companies as Netflix, Fidelity Investments and United Poly Systems, which all lease or own property within the development.
In Mesa del Sol’s master plan, drafted 15 years ago, the tract of land was intended to include age-restricted housing, about 60 acres of open space, and a civic, fitness and recreation center.
Campbell said that the housing and resources still have a home at Mesa del Sol — just not on the original land parcel. Instead of sectioning off a specific area for 55+ residents, Campbell said the new plan is to incorporate several multi-story housing areas throughout existing Mesa del Sol residential areas.
The proposed land use change has already overcome some hurdles, passing the Environmental Planning Commission unanimously in November.
In addition to filling a need for a larger employment area, the change reflects a shift in thinking about developments. When the Mesa del Sol master plan was originally written, Campbell said, developers generally sectioned off senior communities. But, in the years since, that thinking has changed.
“Seniors would like to live in the same communities as their grandchildren, and their grocery stores and their yoga studios,” Campbell said.
There are currently 400 occupied dwellings at Mesa del Sol, with 100 additional dwellings and a 314-unit apartment complex under construction.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated following a Wednesday City Council vote.
More from Alaina Mencinger