As published in Scotsman Guide's Commercial Edition, May 2008.
As the nation's oldest capital city, Santa Fe, N.M., holds its roots hard.
What the Locals Say _____________________________________
"We're building all that we can. We can't go east anymore because of the mountains. North of us are [American] Indian reservations. To the west is [U.S. Department of the Interior] Bureau of Land Management property. So we're limited to the south of town. Inside city limits, buildings are primarily zoned for residential, and it's hard to get zoning changes."
-- Rusty Wafer, Santa Fe Properties Inc., commercial division
Witness its Historic Districts Ordinance, which mandates that new downtown developments meet a specific Southwestern architectural style. Or the city's tourist appeal, which draws more than 1 million visitors -- 13 times Santa Fe's population -- annually.
This year, Santa Fe is laying down some new roots, despite hurdles facing area developers. The $125 million, redeveloped Santa Fe Railyard -- a former brownfield site -- officially opens this summer. Thirteen years in the making, it will include a museum, shops and multifamily housing.
A new convention center should open this fall, accommodating larger groups than Santa Fe could before. And officials say the New Mexico Rail Runner Express train and its roughly 75-minute trip to Albuquerque, N.M., will start running by year's end.
All this constitutes a building boom for a city of Santa Fe's size -- and one similar towns will watch closely. A tight office sector, high cost of living and a staunchly tourism-based economy present a challenge for investors and developers hoping Santa Fe's markets will branch out.
↑ Population: 72,056
Population in 2000: 62,203
Metropolitan-area population: 142,407
Metropolitan-area rank (U.S.): 281st
↓ Average commute: 16.9 minutes
Average commute in 2000: 17.5 minutes
U.S: 25 minutes
↑ Median household income: $46,584
Median household income in 2000: $40,392
↑ Median age: 41.2 years
Median age in 2000: 39.8 years
U.S.: 36.4 years
↓ Unemployment: 2.3 percent
Unemployment in January 2007: 2.9 percent
U.S.: 4.9 percent
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