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Santa Fe seeks voice in planning for Garrett’s site

SANTA FE – A proposed resolution would put the Santa Fe City Council on record as asking State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn to follow the city’s zoning, land use and historic district codes when considering proposals to develop the Garrett’s Desert Inn site downtown.

The measure also asks that residential rental units be part of the redevelopment project.

Dunn, in a statement provided by his staff, responded: “We want to be good neighbors and we have urged potential lessees to work with the City’s Historic Preservation Division to address any concerns it may have, and comply with historic design standards to the extent that they apply and are appropriate.

“However at the end of the day I’m the land commissioner and I have a fiduciary responsibility to make decisions based on what’s best for the (State Land) Trust.” The trust managed by the Land Office generates funds for schools, universities and other entities.

The Garrett’s property, at 311 Old Santa Fe Trail, came to the Land Office through a recent land exchange with Cochiti Pueblo. Last month, Dunn’s staff received four expressions of interest from potential developers and expects to take formal bids in the summer.

But City Councilor Joseph Maestas’ proposed resolution says that “in the spirit of cooperation,” the city wants to assist the Land Office in reviewing plans for the 2.7-acre site and asks that a city staff member be part of Dunn’s committee that will review and rank development proposals. The measure also sets out “the Santa Fe community’s needs and desires” for the project. Those include that the development comply with the city’s development rules, “including its laws related to historic districts, affordable housing, and development water budgets.” The resolution asks that the project include of mix of commercial and residential uses, with residential rental units of various sizes, and with pedestrian amenities along the adjacent Santa Fe River.

Maestas said in an interview that there’s broad agreement that Santa Fe needs more multiunit housing downtown. He acknowledged that the results of past litigation appear to prevent the city from requiring the Land Office to follow city rules, but he described his resolution as “extending an olive branch to the land commissioner” and said the council will collect input from interested parties such as the Old Santa Fe Association that can become part of the discussion about what should happen at the Garrett’s site.