The Siler Yard: Arts + Creativity Center is envisioned as affordable live/work/creation space where Santa Fe’s creative workforce can develop individual and collaborative projects and learn entrepreneurial skills as they transition from training to independence in the art markets.

The Siler Road Public Works Yard is the most desirable and feasible development site for the Arts + Creativity Center. Rather than attempting to generate a new creative hub in our community, Siler offers the opportunity to strengthen an existing identity and resources, while also providing long-term affordable space in a steadily gentrifying area.

Siler Yard will primarily serve emerging creative professionals, as well as provide a major asset for underserved groups. The purpose of the facility is to retain Santa Fe’s creative and entrepreneurial talent, despite the challenges of its high-rent market. Affordable rents allow residents to pursue their own work, while shared facilities allow for greater collaboration. Especially important is the potential to share equipment and tools of production that individuals cannot afford on their own. The program for the facility will also provide mentoring opportunities to prepare young creatives for the challenges of the market in Santa Fe and beyond. Siler Yard is planned as a cluster of buildings located in the heart of the community. It contains 60 units of live/work rental housing, and in the shared resources building to be managed by MAKE Santa Fe may include exhibition/venue space, space for community use, entrepreneurial training and resources, and commercial micro-retail space. This proven national model benefits the cultural and economic development of the community.


Santa Fe’s high cost of housing and commercial spaces is pushing our workforce out of the city. The city currently lacks over 3000 units of affordable rental housing, rental vacancy rates are under 3% for the third year in a row, pushing rental rates up over 30% in the last three years. As a result, Santa Fe is exporting its creative talent, young workers, and our future community leaders instead of exporting their creative products and services. The affordability crisis in Santa Fe is not just about housing. The shortage of affordable space also affects artists, performers and creative workers looking for studio, performance, commercial creation and sales spaces.


The pathway forward requires demonstrating that an affordable live/work space has value for Santa Fe as a whole. In Santa Fe, a deep local understanding of the power of the arts drives the momentum for creating affordable spaces for artists. The city’s historic roots in arts and culture have made Santa Fe what it is today, and maintaining the arts and culture economy is a powerful step toward preserving the spirit of Santa Fe. The community is also broadly aware that though the population of Santa Fe is growing, growth is gray and graying. Santa Fe needs a multi-tiered strategy to attract and retain young people, starting with local youth and extending to newcomers who have fallen in love with Santa Fe while attending one of the local colleges and universities. There is also a desire among community leaders in Santa Fe to redevelop and improve neighborhoods in the city by investing in arts, culture, and innovation.


  • Represent our Diversity: resident and user population should be at least as diverse as our low income communities
  • Create an Innovative Intersection: affordable housing + work space + economic development support+community interaction
  • Empowering A Broad Definition of Creative Entrepreneurs: artists, applied arts, trades, and craftspeople
  • Neighborhood Catalyst: responding to the needs of the Siler district and its future
  • Preservation Strategy: long-term low-cost production and living spaces in a transitioning neighborhood
  • Shared Community Resources: developing assets to amplify existing creatives and businesses within the district
  • Replicable Model: create an approach for community engagement and responsiveness that is replicable locally and nationally
  • Residences: 55 units of very affordable live/work rental housing | 9 market rate units | 1-3 bedroom configuration with flexible floor plans
  • Resident Amenities: On-site agriculture | Residents community building | Meeting spaces | Computer lab | Laundry | Grant writing library
  • Community/Resident Resources: Acre+ of parks/open space | Workshops for loud/messy/dirty | Exhibition space | Micro retail spaces | Outdoor mercado space | Intimate performance venue


  • Supports early-career artists in their transition from training to self-sustainability in the market. Young artists often need time after art school to develop and refine their style.
  • Retains young creative workers and their families in Santa Fe. Siler Yard will be a major factor in addressing the progressive aging of Santa Fe’s population. By addressing affordability issues, and by connecting young artists to markets, it counters the exodus of young creative workers from our city.
  • Enhances the diversity of the city. The distinctive character of Santa Fe derives from the contributions of Hispanic and Native American culture. Yet many young Hispanic and Native artists are economically disadvantaged. Helping these professionals to transition to the market preserves and enhances the vitality of our community.
  • Anchors its local community. By drawing creative professionals to the Siler Rd./Rufina St. neighborhood, Siler Yard supports local businesses, and contributes to the attractiveness of the community for families.
  • Builds entrepreneurial skills. Many young creative professionals do not fully understand that they are starting a small business, and need entrepreneurial and business skills as well as artistic skills.
  • Creates jobs. Art is not a luxury. For the artist it is an occupation. The successful artist not only supports him or her self, s/he supports suppliers of materials and creates a highly valuable product for the market. As in all industries, the producer is the foundation on which jobs are built all the way to the final consumer.
  • Strengthens the local arts economy. If Santa Fe can retain and train its young artists, they in turn renew the foundation of our arts economy. They pay rent and buy necessities. As they produce market-worthy art, they provide work for local galleries, and contribute to Santa Fe’s attractiveness for cultural tourism, which in turn supports hotels and restaurants. In time, as they progress from renting to home ownership, they support the local housing market.
  • Generates tax revenue for local and state government. The economic activities of artists generate Gross Receipts Taxes, and state and national income taxes, repaying any public investment in the Center.


The Siler Yard: Arts+Creativity Center started in 2012 when Creative Santa Fe engaged with Artspace to investigate the possibility of an affordable live/work rental project in Santa Fe. The Artspace Market Study paved the way for an analysis of potential sites for Siler Yard, which identified a portion of the 53 acres of city-owned land on Siler Road as the best fit. In 2013 New Mexico Inter-Faith Housing joined the project team to serve as the lead developer and applicant for affordable housing development funding. In August of 2015 the project was awarded a prestigious “Our Town” planning grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In April of 2016 the City of Santa Fe agreed to donate five acres of land to the project on Siler Road.


Past Work:

  1. Artspace Affordable Space Workshops: May 2012
  2. Artspace Feasibility Analysis: March 2013
  3. Artspace Market Study: January 2014
  4. Developer Selection: August 2014
  5. Sites Analysis: September 2014 – February 2015
  6. City Resolution Supporting Site Due Diligence: March 2015
  7. City Council Creates “Siler Study Area”: August 2015
  8. Site Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Analysis: September – October 2015
  9. Site Density and Design Analysis: November 2015 – January 2016
  10. City Council Vote on Donation: March 30th, 2016
  11. Architecture Request for Proposals: March – April 2016
  12. Site Planning, Charrettes and Architectural Design for Live/Work Units: June 2016 – December 2016
  13. Community Engagement and Prototype Programming: Fall 2016 – Fall 2017
  14. Conceptual Design of Shared Resources Building: March – May 2017
  15. Shared Resources Program Planning: June 2017- December 2018
  16. Application for Low Income Housing Tax Credits- February 2018

Next Steps:

  1. Fundraising for Housing and Shared Resource Space: 2018
  2. Notification of Award for Tax Credits- April 2018
  3. Construction Starts: February 2019
  4. Project Opening: 2020

This project is funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

Learn more about our architectural design process here




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