The Siler Yard: Arts+Creativity Center began 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.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Santa Fe is likely the highest need urban rental market area in the state. According to CBRE’s September 2016 market analysis the occupancy rate for multi-family housing in Santa Fe is 97.8%, the highest level ever recorded in their history of tracking market conditions in the city. Santa Fe has also experienced two years of double digit rent increases and a staggering year-on-year rent increase of 12.83% between September 2015 and September 2016.
Santa Fe’s high cost of housing and commercial spaces is pushing our workforce out of the city. The city currently lacks more than 3,000 units of affordable rental housing, rental vacancy rates are less than 3 percent for the third year in a row, pushing rental rates up over 30 percent in the last three years. As a result, Santa Fe is exporting its creative talent, young workers, and 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 and sales spaces.
WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
The pathway forward requires demonstrating that an affordable live/work space has value for the city as a whole, while representing it’s values. 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 the city.
The community is also broadly aware that though the population of Santa Fe is growing, it is 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 the city while attending one of the local colleges. 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.
WHAT IS THE SILER YARDS ARTS+CREATIVITY CENTER?
The Siler Yard: Arts + Creativity Center is an 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 their respective fields.
Specifically, the project will include 65 units of live/work rental housing. In addition, a shared resources building managed by MAKE Santa Fe may include exhibition and venue spaces, as well as areas for community activities, entrepreneurial training, and commercial micro-retail opportunities. This proven national model benefits the cultural and economic development of the community.
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 and previously 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. Shared facilities allow for greater collaboration. Shared equipment and tools make work possible for individuals who cannot afford on their own. On-site programming will also create mentoring opportunities to prepare young creatives for the challenges of the market in Santa Fe and beyond.
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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Generates tax revenue for local and state government. The economic activities of artists generate Gross Receipts Taxes, and state and national income taxes.