St Michael Drive the New Creative and Cultural Corridor? by Kris Swedin

Could this new creative and cultural corridor become a vibrant neighborhood and not just a place to drive through after picking up groceries? Kris Swedin calls for participation in the discussions and the sharing of your ideas…

“What? The center of the city is St. Mikes?”

Imagine a vibrant and innovative community stretching along St. Michael’s Drive in the center of Santa Fe. You can help choose the design. The city’s Long Range Development Division has come up with ideas to develop the neighborhood of the future in the corridor from Cerrillos Road east to St. Francis Drive.

The population center of Santa Fe is somewhere on the campus of Santa Fe University of Art and Design. An equal number of people live north and south, east and west of that location, according to recent census data.

Anyone who drives through this area witnesses creative driving experiences all day long. Six lanes of traffic – seven with the turn lanes popping up here and there – dozens of hidden driveways, and cars trying to negotiate left-hand turns through the maze makes for an quite an adventure. Add in a few bicyclists and pedestrians darting across the road and there is real danger out there, as we sadly know from recent traffic accidents.

The mayor and city council have directed staff to present a plan that will create community connectedness and improve safety. The project has its roots in the economic development strategy the city adopted several years ago that focused on expanding creative industries – arts, culture, design, new media and film, to name a few.

A year ago the city showcased the work of seven urban designers who presented visions of what “St. Michael’s Boulevard” could look like in the future. Their visions included a focus on a safe and lively streetscape, pared down traffic lanes, affordable apartments and mixed-use spaces to house creative enterprises.

City Councilors Rosemary Romeroand Rebecca Wurzburger introduced and passed Resolution 2011-18 in March of this year to further shape this project and move it along.

Patience and persistence is required to help shape city projects and see them through to completion. This planning process has moved forward relatively quickly. The city invested $35 million in keeping a university focused on nurturing our number two industry – arts and culture – in our community. The growing student body and graduates will need places to live, jobs, transportation and entertainment.

Could this new creative and cultural corridor become a vibrant neighborhood and not just a place to drive through after picking up groceries? You can help decide. Participate in upcoming discussions and share your ideas.

Kris Swedin is a writer, community activist and Chairman of Creative Santa Fe. 505.989.9934,,

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