Los Alamos County Council Chair Sara Scott Issues Update On COVID-19; Housing And Commercial Projects

By Chair Sara Scott
Los Alamos County Council

With this note I’m providing an update of development efforts across our community – even during these challenging times – there is a lot going on.

These projects will have an important impact on our business environment, our ability to provide needed housing options, and our quality of life.

Remember that each one of us also can have an impact both on the health and well-being of our community and the safe and expanded operations of our businesses: please continue to avoid unnecessary travel, wash hands frequently, avoid gatherings and wear a multilayer face covering while maintaining a minimum of 6 feet from others when in public. Small actions have made and will continue to make a big difference.

Multiple housing projects are currently underway and include apartments, townhomes, affordable housing projects and single-family homes. Recall the results from our first independent Housing Market Needs Analysis (completed in 2019), which showed an immediate need for 1,310 units of rental housing and 379 units for homeownership across all income ranges in addition to the developments already in process.

Current projects include:

  • Hilltop House. Purchase has been finalized; planned demolition and re-use for residential development.
  • Mirador Subdivision in White Rock. Approximately 21 homes (of 161) have been constructed and occupied and as they become available are selling quickly. Additionally, a formal application is anticipated in the next month for a mixed-use development (about 57 apartments and 1,100 square feet of commercial use space).
  • Bluffs and Canyon Walk on DP Road. Both are affordable housing development, the Canyon Walk apartments (70 units) are under construction and the Bluffs site is being cleared for a senior housing rental development of 54 units.
  • North Community Residences. Located at the old Black Hole property, 44 market rate townhomes are being built; building permit submitted and under review.
  • The Hill Apartments. On 35th Street (at the old LASO site) east of the hospital 149 market rate apartments are slated for construction by the fall of this year.
  • 3500 and 2201 Trinity. Properties have been purchased; an application for redevelopment is anticipated.
  • Ponderosa Estates Subdivision. This project is for 49 single family homes; the site plan application is expected in late summer.
  • Visiting Nurses Site. Canyon Road property has been purchased and site plan and building design in development for approximately 140 units.
  • Sombrillo Senior Housing. Twelve units for-sale to those 55 and older will be built on the empty lot next to Aspen Ridge; development agreement planned for County Council for consideration in June.
  • North Mesa Housing Study. Final draft proposed strategy for workforce housing is under development based on community engagement and discussions; findings and recommendations to be presented to County Council in June.

There is also a significant amount of commercial development underway. Because so much of both commercial and housing development will be taking place in our downtown areas, we have an opportunity to make sure these areas are developed in a smart and responsible way that serves our community’s needs. To take advantage of this opportunity, we’ll be undertaking downtown planning efforts for both White Rock and Los Alamos. (A contract for the code update and planning services will be considered for County Council approval May 26.) We’ll start with the goals laid out in the Comprehensive Plan and get to the next level of detail regarding what we’d like these areas to look like.

We want to have a good vision for and how they are laid out while considering new options for mobility, transportation, and parking. This will be undertaken in the context of a County-wide initiative to develop an updated and integrated trail and transportation strategy.

In addition, the County code which governs commercial development and redevelopment will be updated and reconfigured to allow us to achieve our downtown goals and be easier to use and apply for all stakeholders. Community outreach and engagement will be critical components of the downtown planning to begin this summer (so we can assure that we integrate with and inform development). We anticipate undertaking these efforts in the context of the Public Health Order, which will require some creativity.

Examples of commercial development projects include:

  • Natural Grocer. Under construction; expect to be open September of this year.
  • Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. Site plan submitted; Planning and Zoning Commission hearing targeted for late June.
  • Wendy’s. The County is anticipating a building permit application in summer 2020.
  • Los Alamos Public Schools Credit Union. Application for site plan anticipated within the next month.
  • Flex Laboratory at the Research Park. The site plan for this Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation project that includes approximately 83,000 square feet of office and laboratory space was approved; building permit application in preparation.
  • Demolition of the Longview property in White Rock. Completed in 2019; will facilitate identification of redevelopment opportunities.
  • County Owned DP Road Lots. Funds to install and upgrade infrastructure required to sell 10 new lots approved as a part of the FY2021 budget process. Work will be initiated in 2020.  In parallel, the County is working with NNSA to resolve contamination discovered on part of one of the DP Road parcels.
  • CB FOX. This property was purchased, and the new owner is making plans for the use of the space for retail and potentially some offices.

To help address the limited land available for development, a formal request was made for additional land transfers from the Department of Energy to Los Alamos County. This request proposes the transfer of approximately 3000 acres of land located southwest of White Rock for development of housing, retail, mixed-use, industrial and recreational purposes.

In addition, there are a number of open space, recreation, cultural amenity and infrastructure projects in the works. I’ll save those details for another day, but our County staff is busy and energized; I appreciate all the hard work they’ve put in to get us to this point and what it will take to keep us moving forward.

Please take care of yourselves and please continue to commit to the actions that will keep our community members, our businesses, and service providers safe and healthy. Your efforts are appreciated!

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