Santa Fe New Mexican –

By Paul Weideman

The commercial-market scene during the past year has been an improvement over the previous October-to-October period. Santa Fe lost some beloved businesses, but not at such a drastic level. A year ago we reported the closures of Tony’s Rental Sales & Service, Leishman’s of Santa Fe, Bert’s Burger Bowl, Antique Warehouse, J. Crew, and Flying Star Restaurant — a collection with nearly 175 years of Santa Fe history among them.

Starting in July, Hastings Entertainment began selling off all inventory at the DeVargas Center store that opened in a former Albertson’s space. All 123 Hastings stores in the United States were set to close their doors by Oct. 31 as the Amarillo company fell victim to changing consumer trends regarding videos, music, and books. The 16,320-square-foot space is the mall’s fourth largest, after Office Depot, Sprouts, and Ross Dress for Less.

On the other end of town, the Santa Fe Place location of Sports Authority joined a similar nationwide going-out-of-business bankruptcy drama when it closed its doors last spring. The sporting goods retailer was in one of the mall’s anchor spaces, more than 60,000 square feet, that previously had a Mervyn’s until the end of 2008, when that retailer also suffered a bankruptcy liquidation.

At Coronado Center, the spaces at the east end remain vacant with the loss of Santa Fe Baking Co. last March and Leishman’s in 2015. But owner Phillips Edison & Company had good news in an Oct. 27 press release. Best of all is the imminent return of the coffee shop as Phillips Edison secured a 4,500-square-foot lease with The New Baking Company. That will reopen in the former Santa Fe Baking Co. space under new ownership with a facelift of the restaurant, almost all of the previous employees returning, and one of the new owners a former, 17-year employee of the restaurant.

First National Bank moved from the center’s Suite 516 to the satellite pad at the corner of St. Francis Drive, next to Subway. The 2,640-square-foot Suite 516 space will be an Orangetheory Fitness center. Orangetheory offers group personal training workout broken into intervals of cardiovascular and strength training. Coming in to fill Suite 510 is a locally owned business called Sleep & Dream. Innovated by Mary “Mattress Mary” Domito and Sharon Scott, the store will feature mattresses by Hästens, Vispring, Hypnos, A.H. Beard, and Posh & Lavish displayed on 27 model beds. Sleep & Dream is scheduled to open in December.

Also coming to Coronado Center is a Nutrishop outlet, offering vitamins and sports nutrition and weight-loss products.

One of the biggest stories downtown is the pending occupation of Sanbusco Market Center by New Mexico School for the Arts, which purchased the shopping center and will move the school from its current digs in the old St. Francis Cathedral School. The school is working with Studio Southwest Architects, Albuquerque; and Lake Flato Architects, San Antonio, on plans to remodel most of the 88,000 square feet of spaces, including the large former quarters of Borders Books and Cost Plus World Market.

It is logical to think that one of those big buildings may be used for a performance space. “Not at this time,” said Julie Bernard, the school’s director of institutional advancement. “However, we are developing flexible and multi-purpose spaces which can accommodate performances and exhibitions throughout the campus.”

The school serves 220 students from over 60 communities throughout the state.

“Once NMSA’s new campus is completed, we will be able to provide opportunity and access to more students from throughout the state and we will be able to expand our programming,” Bernard said. “Contingent upon funding, NMSA has always dreamed of adding two arts concentrations — creative writing and literature, and cinematic arts — to our existing programming in dance, music, theater, and visual arts.

The NMSA-Art Institute administrative offices were set to move to Sanbusco by Nov. 1. The anticipated timeline, subject to city design review, permitting process, and fundraising, is to begin construction around May 2017 and begin school at the new campus in Fall 2018. Bernard said an Economic Impact Study carried out by O’Donnell Economics & Strategy revealed that NMSA, with full enrollment of 300 students at its new campus over the next 10 years, will benefit the local and state economies to the tune of $80.3 million, including in jobs and tax revenues that the construction of the campus will create.

A number of Sanbusco’s merchants have moved their operations to DeVargas Center. op.cit. books relocated in November 2015, followed in the next six months or so by Kioti, Santa Fe Pens, Teca Tu, Bodhi Bazaar, Dell Fox Jewelry, and Rock Paper Scissors. “All the tenants have been doing better than they were at Sanbusco,” said Katy Fitzgerald, senior project manager with Fidelis Realty Partners at DeVargas Center. “Baskin Robbins moved across the mall, right next to Panda Express, where we’ve wanted them to be forever because it’s just a better fit.”

The mall’s Ethiopian restaurant, Café Roha, closed recently because of illness, but Fitzgerald is bringing in a Peruvian restaurant called Sabor Peruano to the same space in early November.

DeVargas Center is a lively place, in spite of the departure of Hastings. “That is our focus now and we’re working on another kind of anchor shift that I can’t talk about yet,” the manager said. “We have a really strong lineup of people who want to be here, so we’re trying to make it work for everybody’s size requirements.”

There remain too many vacant buildings on Guadalupe Street, but the situation improved when Tom Stark brought his Array shop into the 322 S. Guadalupe building in June. It features gifts, stationery, books, porcelain, art, antiquities, greeting cards, candles, bath & body, accessories.

Array was previously at the Design Center (418 Cerrillos Road), and what took its place there? Nothing yet. But, across the street (at 428 Sandoval Street), Lauren Hunt opened Hunt Modern, which features wonderful 20th-century furnishings, mostly European — like a great Art Deco day bed by Hynek Gottwald. “I buy at auction in Copenhagen and Germany and I have a partner in Poland and he checks for me in France and Italy and the Czech Republic. He rounds everything up and does restoration,” Hunt said. “I’ve been on [the online marketplace] 1stdibs for a while, but this is my first brick-and-mortar place.”

The other half of the 428 Sandoval address is occupied by Ashlyn Perry’s Lux business. During an October visit, she said, “We thought Santa Fe was kind of lacking in an industrial and modern mixture of some furniture pieces. We have a combination of modern, industrial, and rustic.” She picked up a copy of the Ellen DeGeneres book Home and said, “She’s kind of an inspiration for what we do.” Perry walked over to an old, 79-inch workbench and said it would make a great bar. Also inhabiting this interesting place are a big paper-wasp nest, antlers, birdcages, postcards, a rocking horse, antique C-clamps, chairs, tables, lamps, and artworks. In November Lux will be featuring works by painter Alexandra Eldridge.

Ken Joseph, owner of Luna, 505 Cerrillos Road, has an operator for his stylish restaurant space. He declined to reveal more, except to say he expects it will open the first week in January. “During the past year, New Mexico Hard Cider doubled in size, and we have Artisan Minds brand and communication design, then I have two leases out for signature on the last remaining spaces,” Joseph said.

In other restaurant news, the family that owns the Plaza Cafe planned to open their new restaurant, Café Sonder, on Nov. 4 in the 326 S. Guadalupe Street building formerly occupied by Zia Diner, which closed in February. During a visit, Daniel Razatos showed the new wood bar, new furniture and chandeliers, and new seating, including in what was the waiting room at the Zia. “Everything but the shell is brand new,” he said.

Café Sonder’s menu is contemporary American. I noticed roast chicken and New Mexico bison burgers, then asked the question. “No milkshakes, no pies,” Razatos answered. “It’s the same concept you get downtown, a huge variety at a medium price point, the kind of place you can come and eat two or three times a week, just like the Plaza Restaurant. This is three businesses in one. In the morning, it’s counter service, a coffee shop, light breakfast. Then at 11 we have the gastro pub and, in the main room, dining from 11 to 2 and 5 to 10 p.m. with a separate menu.”

Architect Suby Bowden said the new restaurant will officially open the first week of November, with new lettering on the Zia’s old neon sign outside. “The interior has a new softened-contemporary finish, with brightened colors, and furnishings. There is a community breakfast bar to sit and read the paper, as well as community tables in the lunch and dinner-bar area. Most importantly the kitchen already smells great, with dishes being made and tested, and staff buzzing around preparing… amazing fresh foods coming to Santa Fe soon.”

A newly renovated El Nido is set to open in Tesuque this month in the hands of Enrique Guerrero: steaks, seafood, and now also pizzas and pastas, all made fresh. El Nido closed in January 2010 after some eight decades of operation by several different owners. In August, Andrea Clover moved her French creperie Chez Dré from the Agora shopping center in Eldorado to the former Ecco Espresso & Gelato space at 105 E. Marcy Street. In the next block, Greg Menke opened Hive Market at 101 W. Marcy Street almost a year ago. Inside: lots of honey, beeswax candles, personal-care products full of “honeybee magic,” as the proprietor calls it, and also chocolates and New Mexico pecans and pistachios.

Eldorado-area folks got back an eatery as Upper Crust Pizza opened a second location this summer at the site of the former Blue Moon Café, across U.S. 84/285 from the main Eldorado entrance and next to Philllips 66 gas station.

Lucia’s New Mexican & Mexican Food restaurant opened in Februrary at 2411 Cerrillos Road, next to the Lamplighter Inn. The spot was previously home to Café Olé (2009-2012), PD Bean Coffee House (2006-2009), and the Lamplighter Liquor Store (at least back to the early 1970s).

Steve Duran and Rick Jaramillo, Railyard Brewing, planned to open Strike Bowl & Brew at Market Station at the end of October. The business above the vacated Flying Star spce will offer food, drink, and eight lanes of bowling.

New at Pacheco Park: a wealth of colorful folk-art pieces in Que Tenga Buena Mana. Patricia La Farge founded her Latin American import business in 1969. And Lette Birn no longer has her lighting business, Form + Function, in its own quarters at the Pacheco Park commercial complex. She remains engaged as a lighting consultant, and her inventory shows in a common shop with Nedret Rugs & Textiles and Design Connection fabrics.

The big, former Santa Fe Baillio’s building at 3294 Cerrillos Road now has a big, popular thrift store after Savers opened there last spring.

Santa Fe’s Honda and Subaru dealerships moved this summer from the Auto Park to a pair of new, architecturally interesting buildings at 7311 Cerrillos Road, next to Newman’s Nursery. Two other substantial businesses that moved south were Cost Plus World Market (from Sanbusco Market Center) and Bed, Bath & Beyond (moving from 3320 Cerrillos Road), both building new spaces at Santa Fe Place Mall. Santa Fe Place is now looking forward to new tenants Boba Tea Company, a Crunch gym, Skechers shoes, H&M clothing, Forever 21 fashions, and Lids athletic headwear.

Another stunning piece of architectural design is the new Del Norte Credit Union branch building that’s taking shape at 604 W. San Mateo Road, next to Coca Cola. Designed by SlagleHerr Architects, Albuquerque, the new branch, remodeled from an existing building, is set to open early next summer. Credit Union president Chuck Valenti said it will eventually replace the Cordova Road branch. “We have outgrown this location and are in the process of converting from leased space to credit union-owned space. We now own the buildings for our branches in Los Alamos, White Rock (which opened this summer), Española, Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe, and now San Mateo.”

Staffing will be similar to the Cordova office, DNCU chief operating officer Deborah Salazar added, but the San Mateo branch will also house a segment of the credit union’ administration, overflow from the Cerrillos Road offices. San Mateo will be equipped with approximately 400 safe-deposit boxes — a welcome addition for members who have been on a waiting list for the boxes — and with NextGen ATM services.

On May 31, Kris Hendricks, D.D.S., opened Dentistry for Kids at 1459 St. Francis Drive. Hendricks combined three existing dental offices, the largest at Rodeo Road and Sawmill Road, for the new 7,200-square-foot clinic. The new building, designed with architect Wayne Lloyd, won a Mayor’s Sustainability Award for new construction. “I think the big orange wall scared some people,” Dr. Hendricks laughed, “but it has kind of toned down. And we wanted something whimsical.” The office’s other dentists are Kelly Hendricks, Stephen Tanner, and James Burneson.

A $44 million renovation and expansion of Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center began in May. Designed to provide private rooms for all patients, and comfortable sleeper chairs for overnighting family members, the project will be complete in late 2018.

In April 2015, a Presbyterian Primary Care clinic opened at 454 St. Michael’s Drive and Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center opened its southside clinic, Entrada Contenta Health Center, at 5501 Herrera Drive. Now Presbyterian Healthcare Services is working on a new $135 million hospital on the Las Soleras parcel in the northeast quadrant of the I-25/Cerrillos Road intersection.

Tom Linton’s Mallard Motorplex had an open house for its newest building on Oct. 30. Linton, who is passionate about vintage Porsches and other beautiful automobiles, incorporated Collector Cars of Santa Fe in 1998 with 26 storage units. He added 18 more in 2005 and his brand-new buildings were designed to hold a fancy tour bus and a dozen cars, as well as offer space for other tenants. The new facility was designed by architect Don Dudley of Albuquerque, and Linton built it with Santa Fe architect Steve McCormick. “The anchor building is already sold, the white porcelain-tile building, which I sort of custom-built for one of my tenants who is a big car collector. And I’ve been talking to a woman who may rent two of the buildings for art storage,” he said.

The contractor on the Mallard Way project was Sarcon Construction. Peter Brill, Sarcon’s president, said the company is also building a climate-controlled storage building nearby for Santa Fe Spirits; is also involved in a new construction phase at Santa Fe Botanical Garden; is making improvements to the Santa Fe Municipal Airport terminal; and will break ground in January or February on Railyard Flats, a 3-story apartment building behind and adjacent to SITE Santa Fe.

Sarcon is also currently busy with a $6 million expansion project at SITE Santa Fe, both significant interior improvements and dramatic additions that have been designed by SHoP Architects, New York. Work on the rear addition is now under way; the entire project should be complete next fall.

Another new building with strong design values has been added at Wagon Self Storage behind Santa Fe Place. Additional storage units, all temperature-controlled, should be ready in December, according to Dave Ligon, manager of the facility for owners Tracy Northington and Steve Reid. The existing storage units are almost six years old. But the most dramatic feature is the adjoining building for the new business Santa Fe Wine Storage, also at 4684 Wagon Road. The wine facility boasts an industrial-grade refrigeration system in a range of wine lockers and vaults with fingerprint access, an onsite manager, acceptance of wine deliveries, and monthly wine tastings.

“The corner atrium has a mezzanine and office space and there’s conditioned wine storage and a tasting room,” said architect Jeff Seres, Studio Southwest Architects. “It’s not your average self-storage facility.”

Two major construction projects are planned at the new intersection of Jaguar Drive and N.M. 599 on land owned by Richard Cook. Scott Hoeft, Santa Fe Planning Group, said a new construction phase is beginning on the Jaguar extension. The two projects are the Santa Fe Commercial Center on the west side near the airport, which will be about 1.3 million square feet of office and light industrial users; and Village Plaza at Tierra Contenta on the east side of the interchange, adjacent to the Tierra Contenta subdivision and the city’s new Southwest Area Node (SWAN) regional park. Village Plaza will be mostly retail and other commercial. The entire 420-acre property has been on the market since July. “It is on the market for $50 million,” said Jeremy Gonzales of The Brokerage Realty, “and we’re offering build-to-suit/land lease on individual tracts. I just put a gas station site under contract. Probably next will be the hotel site on the east side of the property and we have two drive-through sites that should lease pretty soon; that could be fast-food, a Starbucks, or a bank.”


Mark Bertram, SF Brown Real Estate, is most enthusiastic about the office market right now. SF Brown recently completed an 18,000-square-foot building — all pre-leased — in Rodeo Park. “One tenant is a law-enforcement agency and the ground floor is occupied by Hub International Insurance Agency. That is the first new office building we’ve built in seven years or so. And I would argue it’s probably the largest private-sector-developed building done in Santa Fe in the same time period.

“We’re seeing tremendous strength in the downtown office market. In fact, Marcy Plaza is now 100 percent leased. Our other building, 215 Lincoln, is in the high 90s in terms of the occupancy level. We’re getting a lot of interest in the second floor of 130 Lincoln Avenue, where Garduno’s was. It has been completely gutted and tenant improvements for offices will begin there in the next 30 days.

“We have office people who have expressed interest in our former ground-floor retail spaces, J Crew and a portion of the Blue Rain Gallery. The point is that we have enough interest in office downtown that office users are even looking at retail spaces. We also recently purchased the building right next to 130 Lincoln, 142 Lincoln (directly across from City Hall), which is residential condos on the top floors and retail on the bottom, and we have had office-user interest in the ground floor there as well.

“I really think that because of the fact that most people, if they can get it, would like to go downtown first, now as it’s getting absorbed, we’re seeing the next level looking at retail spaces and then we’ll begin to absorb more space in the St. Michael’s Drive Corridor and that will next be pushed out to Rodeo. People don’t believe me when I say this, but I think we could, in a few years, actually see a shortage of office space in the city of Santa Fe.”

SF Brown owns the property on which, several years ago, the Zia Station stop for the New Mexico Rail Runner Express was built. The trains may soon be stopping there. “We’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on improvements,” Bertram said. “I think they will be completed maybe the first week of November and I hope to see Zia Station open it shortly after that.”

His company expects to build a mixed-use center on the parcel at some point. “What we’ve always said to the city and the neighborhood is that we want to open the station, gauge the ridership, and then figure out how much parking we will have to attribute to the train portion so that when we bring our development proposal to the city, we will have enough spaces to accommodate that use.”

Bertram said SF Brown is as busy as its ever been. “The thing that I see in the market that’s really positive is few new businesses coming in but a lot of existing businesses expanding, for example Hub International. And my forecast from that is that next we’ll see new businesses coming in. The challenge is that if the existing spaces that we have on the market don’t satisfy demand, some of it will be forced into new construction and that will be another net positive.”

He called that new, fully leased Rodeo Park building “the canary in the coal mine, and let’s hope that bodes well for the future.”