Midtown campus: The city of Santa Fe owns the 64-acre campus that once housed the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and has been working to find a new use for the property in a way that gets community buy-in. The city last year issued a request for expressions of interest in redeveloping the property. This was more about seeking ideas the city can shape into a project rather than deciding upon a traditional project proposal from a developer. Seven master developers responded, as did 14 applicants seeking to use smaller portions of the campus. The city is now evaluating the 21 applications to determine which ideas are suitable and if the city can find a developer with which it would like to collaborate.
Meow Wolf: Less than 4 years old as a full-fledged, full-time interactive art installation, Meow Wolf remains the local juggernaut that nobody saw coming. Meow Wolf announced its fourth new project in Phoenix in 2019, continued construction in Las Vegas, Nev., and Denver, and is getting started on planning an outlet in Washington, D.C. Meow Wolf also announced its desire to add a four-story, 68,000-square-foot office structure to its Creative Studios, where new exhibitions are designed and built in a former Caterpillar facility on the Santa Fe’s south side. The company in May announced it would raise its minimum wage to $17 per hour for all hourly employees, full time or part time. Meow Wolf also faced some criticism when it announced it would buy back crowdfunded WeFunder shares it had sold to 621 investors. The Santa Fe arts and entertainment collective had bigger fish to fry: In May, Meow Wolf sold $158,613,855 in stock to 87 investors. In October, Meow Wolf’s CEO, Vince Kadlubek, announced he was stepping down, saying a major factor in his decision was the stress of running the burgeoning business.
State minimum wage: The minimum wage across New Mexico increased to $9 per hour on Jan. 1, the first increase in the state minimum wage since 2009. The legislation is designed to take the statewide minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2023. This has minimal bearing in Santa Fe, where the minimum wage already is $11.80 and likely will top $12 when the annual adjustment is made March 1.
Apartment construction: Santa Fe has a housing shortage somewhere around 5,000 units. Specifically for affordable apartments, the shortage is 2,600 units for people earning less than $25,000 per year. To address that, an apartment boom has emerged, with 590 units under construction or recently completed and another 1,469 units in the approval process. The city had next to no apartment construction until a 2016 change to the affordable housing requirement that gave builders a choice to pay an in-lieu-of fee instead of supplying 15 percent of units at affordable rates.
Nambé: Santa Fe-based kitchen and home décor company Nambé LLC sold for $12 million in July to Portmeirion Group, a British manufacturer and world distributor of housewares. The Hillenbrand Family had owned Nambé since 1981 after it was founded in Pojoaque in 1951. Nambé has eight stores, all but one in New Mexico, but Portmeirion intends to open more stores in Southern California, Texas and Florida. Portmeirion also bought the Nambé headquarters building on De Vargas Street and distribution center in Española.
Christus St. Vincent-Mayo Health Network and Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center: Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center was among the first 40 hospitals to join the Mayo Clinic Care Network, which gives the Santa Fe hospital staff — and patients — direct access to Mayo Clinic physicians. This enables Christus St. Vincent to schedule procedures not previously done in Santa Fe and also gives patients access to Mayo Clinic facilities for second opinions. More than 160 patients already have received second opinions through the Mayo Clinic Care Network. Across town, Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center completed its first full year as Santa Fe’s second hospital.
Santa Fe Brewing Co.: Santa Fe Brewing Co. has long been the biggest craft brewery in New Mexico. This year the company doubled the size of its brewhouse, which multiplied its brewing capacity from about 35,000 barrels a year to 180,000 barrels. Santa Fe Brewing Co. also closed the year with the opening of its beer hall, which has a capacity of 220 people, who can drink beer and watch the brewing and canning process through a window.
Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce: Simon Brackley stepped down as president and CEO after leading the chamber for 13 years. The chamber didn’t look far for its new CEO: Bridget Dixson has been working for the chamber since 2010. She plans to largely follow Brackley’s model, but Dixson said she wants to focus more on the city’s south side and Airport Road and bring more Hispanics, women and young people to the board of directors.
Chipotle: Chipotle’s arrival in Santa Fe in December drew huge community attention and sparked a debate on whether the City Different needs a national chain burrito joint in a city with so many Mexican and New Mexican restaurants. Others welcome the predictability and the change of pace of the fast-casual eatery.
Smith’s Food and Drug and Albertsons: Smith’s Food and Drug went against the retail grain in April when it stopped accepting Visa credit cards due to “excessive interchange and network fees that Visa and its issuing banks charge retailers.” That didn’t last long — Smith’s restored credit card use in November. Meanwhile, Albertsons brought back self-checkouts after eliminating the feature in 2011. Albertsons also renovated its Zafarano and Zia stores.
Women’s empowerment: SCORE staged its first women’s business conference and drew 184 women. It was the largest event staged by the Santa Fe SCORE chapter, and Chairman Bob Gallatin said the conference helped the attendees build confidence. The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce has staged four annual Women’s Leadership Luncheons, with attendance growing from 20 to 360.
Kmart: Santa Fe lost its Kmart store in December. The store had been at its location on St. Michael’s Drive since 1976. Kmart had closed some 2,000 stores since its peak in 1994 and was down to 202 stores when Transform Holdco acquired the retailer in February 2019.
Market Station: A local ownership group acquired the Market Station building at the Railyard to end a four-year bankruptcy saga that resulted in considerable vacancies. New owner 500 Market LLC has announced Bernalillo-based Bosque Brewing, Wayward Sons Distillery and Opuntia Café will become prominent tenants.