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British-Backed Megadevelopment Slated for...Albuquerque

A master-planned community proposed for land owned by the British bank Barclay's on the outskirts of Albuquerque would be New Mexico's second-largest city on full build-out. Opponents say it would also be a major water hog in a painfully arid state.
May 31, 2015, 7am PDT | Josh Stephens | @jrstephens310
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Not much is growing in New Mexico these days. With a historic drought hammering the state's farmers and a relatively anemic growth rate of only 0.1 percent in the past year in Albuquerque, a mega-development of up to 100,000 people seems far-fetched. But the British bank Barclays seems intent on developing a vast holding of 13,700 acres on the city's western flank. 

The community/city of Santolina would be a progressive version of the master-planned communities that took the country's suburbs by storm starting in the 1970s. It would include schools, retail, and even offices. No matter how well designed it is, infill it is not. In fact, it was once a holding of SunCal, which built sprawling communities all over the West before going bankrupt in the late 2000s. Barclays is trying to succeed where SunCal failed. 

"For Barclays, this is a strategy to make this huge swathe of desert holdings profitable. Santolina’s developers say it’s a project that will help deal with long-term growth in the Albuquerque region over the next several decades: “While infill may accommodate some of the growth, other options are required,” says the development’s website, pointing to estimates that the area’s population will increase by more than 400,000 by 2040. But critics question these projections and say the development is not needed: in the 12 months to 1 July 2014, the Albuquerque metro area grew by just 0.1%, adding only 1,242 people."

If Santolina's tens of thousands of residents do materialize, it's unclear that they'll have anything to drink. 

"But members of the Contra Santolina group remain unconvinced amid warnings that New Mexico is facing a “megadrought” worse than anything experienced in the last 1,000 years. A study released in February by researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute points to 2050 as a time when the drought will begin to worsen dramatically, right around when Santolina planners predict the development could approach full capacity."

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 in The Guardian
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