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Neighbors Object to Thornburg Expansion


By Sean O'Hara
New Mexico Business Weekly
January 23, 2004


While many businesses applaud Thornburg Companies' plan to build Santa Fe's most
eco-friendly designed office building, some residents are unhappy about
its planned location.

The mutual fund and financial management company is hoping to build a
100,581-square-foot complex for its 150 employees who now work in two
buildings in downtown Santa Fe.

The new "green building" would be built in Santa Fe Estates, located near
a mostly residential area on the south side of North Ridgetop Road between
the N.M. 599 bypass and Avenida Rincon. Thornburg's current location is
located in commercially zoned downtown.

The new office complex could house up to 400 employees and received the
green light in November from the city's Planning Commission. It now awaits
approval from City Council on Jan. 28.

The proposal is expected to face harsh criticism from neighborhood
residents who oppose the company's plan to build a commercial building in
the area.

The master plan calls for office and retail space located on 10-acre,
commercially zoned site.

Critics say the new design does not conform to the New-Old Santa Fe Pueblo
or Spanish style architecture but, instead, is a contemporary
interpretation of Spanish architecture. The complex will include two
buildings initially and a third is planned for some point in the future.

Thornburg founder, Garrett Thornburg, says he has been searching for land
in the city for for four years, and he is excited to have an
environmentally friendly and energy efficient building.

"It is really interesting to be using one of the best architects in the
world and to achieve a green building," Thornburg says.

President of Santa Fe's Chapman Companies, Mike Chapman, whose company is
building homes in Santa Fe Estates, likes Thornburg's plans to build the
commercial office buildings in the area.

"We like the whole idea of that being the master planned community and
having the community campus they're proposing as well as the housing that
we are working on all involved in the same area," Chapman says.

"This is a smart way to develop that area and make a great project."

Chapman also hopes Thornburg employees will buy homes from his company.
However, neighbors say the corporate center has no place in a residential
neighborhood.

Lewis Pollock, a member of the Concerned Residents of Santa Fe North and
resident of Tano Road, says the area is only zoned for retail and not for
commercial use.

"I personally would work hard to get these types of buildings in town," he
says. "I like the building and architect a lot, but we're talking rule of
law here." Pollock says.

He says the parcel of land is meant for small businesses that sell goods
and services and says the building design does not reflect New/Old Santa
Fe style architecture.

Thornburg maintains that the building would be a good neighbor and points
to states like Connecticut, which has office buildings that blend in with
"very expensive homes." He says the company has even taken into
consideration the parking element of the project and plans to spend a
considerable amount of money on vegetation to hide cars in the parking lot.

Thornburg hired Richard Legorreta of Mexico City to develop the building
with state-of-the-art cooling and heating systems, toilets that will use
recycled gray water, and windows that open. The building and grounds will
also have systems to capture runoff water.

According to Thornburg officials, The Thornburg Campus will use 70 percent
less water than the average office building. It will also use 50 percent
less energy than an average office building by using passive solar design
features and other mechanical and natural ventilation systems.

 

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