By: Paul Weideman
Published online: Sunday, November 04, 2012
Appeared in: Home, Santa Fe Real Estate Guide
Edition: November 2012 Vol. 15 No. 8
The glorious, old neon sign for the Stage Coach Motor Inn will live on as the property at 3360 Cerrillos Road is redeveloped as a 60-unit apartment village. The only change will be the word “Apartments” replacing “No vacancy.”
“The Housing Trust is doing this, all affordable apartments,” said Steve Larson, project superintendent with Pavilion Construction. “It will be 44 units in nine new buildings plus 16 units in the three remodeled buildings of the motel.”
Integrated Design & Architecture, the Albuquerque firm that has designed the project, put together a history of the property. It begins by noting that the alignment of today’s Cerrillos Road shows up as the Camino de los Carros on a 1767 map of Santa Fe. A little over a century later, another map identifies this as a stagecoach route. “One could imagine that some of those coaches stopped at the property, only 10 miles from Santa Fe, to water horses and passengers from an old stone-lined well still located on the site.”
The old camino was absorbed into Route 66 in the mid-1920s, but that designation — which brought a number of distinctive motels to the Santa Fe stretch — only lasted 12 years. Route 66 moved south when a shorter road was established between Tucumcari and Albuquerque.
There have been lodgings at this site going back at least to 1944. Two buildings known as The Westerner were probably built at that time as a boarding house for visitors to, or employees of, the Bruns Hospital for World War II soldiers. By the 1960s, it was the Stage Coach Motor Inn, expanded to three buildings with 16 units.
Those three structures, all stuccoed concrete block, are known as the Big House, the Inn, and the Casita. All will be preserved in the remodeling effort now under way. The old ceiling vigas, fireplaces, and saltillo-tile bathrooms will be saved, but insulation will be added in both walls and roofs.
That’s just one of the sustainability features to be addressed in the Stage Coach project. The Housing Trust, Pavilion Construction, and the architects are going for top “Platinum” designation in the home category of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification.
When it’s complete, the Big House will have eight dwelling units, as well as a community hall, a common den and kitchen, and a management and leasing office. The Inn will have six apartments, a community laundry, and maintenance facility for the entire development; and the Casita accommodates two dwelling units.
The site is 4.4 acres, with access to Arroyo de Los Chamisos park and trails, but it’s also right on Cerrillos Road. High traffic volume and highway noise were considered in the site and building design of this compact infill development. The developers intend to provide “a playful and cohesive community for individuals with children, as well as people transitioning out of homelessness,” say the architects’ documents. There will be kitchen gardens, turf and sand interpretive play areas, and tree-lined outdoor seating. The historic well house shows up as a water feature with outdoor seating. Rainwater harvested from parking areas and rooftops will be stored to irrigate drought-tolerant trees, grasses, and other landscaping plants.
At the office of The Housing Trust, controller Justin Robison took out a site plan, showing how the new units will be clustered around courtyards/play areas, creating several mini-neighborhoods. He said the majority of the financing for the project — estimated to cost $13,354,000 — is from tax credits, awarded by the Mortgage Finance Authority and purchased by UnitedHealth Care. The apartments will be subject to limits based on area median income.
The new buildings, one and two stories, will be designed in “a modern reflection of Northern New Mexico vernacular style,” according to the Integrated Design & Architecture. They will feature a variety of stucco colors offset by recessed windows and areas of corrugated metal siding. “All the new dwellings units have direct solar access with weathered corrugated metal awnings above windows to ensure that residents have warm, comforting sunlight in winter, while minimizing unwanted glare and heat gain in the summer.”
The units also will have private back yards, balconies, and semi-private patios. The architects’ plans include a Community Building providing a meeting and gathering room, a day care center, a computer room, a kitchen, and an office for a social service coordinator.
Larson said his crews are aiming for completion of the Stage Coach Apartments in January 2013.