A ‘WELL Building’ pilot at Las Soleras
he Housing Trust is poised to develop a bright, contemporary-design apartment complex with a strong wellness component at Las Soleras. The project named Soleras Station will offer housing for a range of residents, including disabled persons, the previously homeless, and those with limited income; it will serve households earning from 30 percent to 80 percent of median income.
The Housing Trust has partnered with the city of Santa Fe, Pulte Homes, and the architecture firm Dekker/Perich/ Sabatini Architects on what is planned as a pilot program for certification through InternationalWELL Building Inc.
This is perhaps the only multifamily WELL Building project in the nation,” said the trust’s director, Sharron Welsh. “This is a new U.S. Green Building Council certification based on the fact that well-designed buildings can have a positive impact on human health.”
Welsh pursued theWELL Building aspect of Soleras Station after seeing a presentation by DPS intern architect Hannah Feil Greenhood. “Hannah’’s a big devotee of WELL Building. There are seven elements to it, including air, mental heath, lighting, and water. Our apartments will have a lot of daylighting, better water filters on the faucets, and also a bicycle repair station and bicycle garages, just a few examples.”
The Soleras Station site is about 1,000 feet east of Cerrillos Road, across Beckner Road and a bit east of the new VA clinic. There will be 87 units in six 3-story buildings and five 2-story buildings, plus a community building.
On Jan. 7, the Planning Commission approved the project’s preliminary development plan. Six days later, the Santa Fe City Council adopted a resolution agreeing to accept a donation of at least $1.4 million from Pulte Homes for a 4.5-acre parcel of land for Soleras Station as well as necessary work to bring utilities to the plot. Pulte also is donating six lots in its single-family project to Habitat for Humanity.
Welsh said that readiness to proceed is always important under the low-income housing tax credit program, and that city planners “have fast-tracked the development plan review to accommodate the need for alacrity.”
“Soleras Station isn’t just an affordable roof thrown up. This is a newway of doing affordable housing,” said Alexandra Ladd, special projects manager in the affordable housing division of the city’s Housing and Community Development Department. “For very-low-income persons, the lack of housing is not usually their only problem. They often have many things going on that makes them vulnerable to housing instability. For years and years the thought was, Well, you just get them under a roof and it’s up to them to get their lives together and I think we’ve realized that doesn’t work very well.
“These projects that Sharron is doing are innovative in a lot ofways and one of the ways is that there’s a whole variety of incomes within that one project. People tend to think, Oh, it’s horrible, you’re segregating all these poor people in one site, and it’s not like that. There will be people who are transitioning out of homelessness all the way up to people who are almost ready to buy a home.
“The community also will have all sort of things that don’t happen in a normal apartment complex,” Ladd said. “They’ll offer GEDclasses and ESL classes and homebuyer training classes and residents will be able to access services onsite. It’s just a more holistic approach to affordable rental housing.”
The Housing Trust is making a setaside for 20 percent of the units to be occupied by persons emerging from homelessness or folks with disabilities, and providing a preference for veterans,” she said. The project incorporates design elements to accommodate people with vision and hearing impairments and the disabled. “At the end of the day that means we have a great collaboration ongoing with
At top, an architectural rendering shows new apartment buildings flanking one of several courtyards. Right, the Soleras Station site plan. Also, three sketches for the development’s community building.