Thursday, April 24, 2008

NM in the News: Two Big NM Projects Move Forward

Two big projects moved forward this week as Sierra County passed the Spaceport Tax, encouraging that to move forward, while up in Santa Fe, the county was able to purchase land from the state to move forward with development of the Santa Fe Studios. More info below.

from the AP via MSNBC:
NM Spaceport Tax wins Key Vote

updated 9:46 p.m. MT, Tues., April. 22, 2008

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. - Sierra County voters have approved a tax aimed at financing New Mexico's $200 million spaceport, according to unofficial results.

The tax passed Tuesday by 980 votes among 3,112 cast, the Sierra County clerk's office said.

Spaceport director Steve Landeene called the win "huge" and thanked the county for embracing the tax that will add a 25-cent charge to a $100 purchase.


Santa Fe Studios hopes to build eco-friendly film facility on 65-acre property
State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons grinned widely Tuesday as he signed the documents that finalized Santa Fe County's purchase of 65 acres from the state.

County Commissioners Jack Sullivan, Virginia Vigil and Mike Anaya beamed as Sullivan presented Lyons with a $1.8 million check for the property south of Santa Fe on N.M. 14 they hope becomes a movie studio.

The tract was appraised at $2.3 million, but the county received $480,000 in credits for infrastructure it had already installed.

Lance Hool, president of a company called Santa Fe Studios, smiled too. "We're glad your office has decided to sell the land," Hool said. "This is great news for us and hopefully for the county as well."

Hool didn't have an official role at Tuesday's closing. But his company's recent proposal to buy the land and build a multimillion-dollar, environmentally friendly film production facility there was the star.

Lyon's said the proposed deal represented an "opening of the highway to bring a world-class studio to New Mexico" and would likely increase the value of adjacent state-owned land.

Santa Fe Studios has expressed interest in the property since 2002, when the county first began leasing it in hopes of creating a business park there. But, Hool said, they company was never able to strike a deal with the county because it didn't own the land.

Santa Fe Studios' latest proposal, which came earlier this month, includes:

  • Santa Fe Studios will pay the county $2.3 million in cash for the property and will build a $40 million film production facility there.
  • In return for the potential increase of tax revenues and jobs, the county would support the project by granting Santa Fe Studios certain financial incentives. These include forgoing property taxes on the land for about 20 years and approving an infrastructure financing plan to generate $3.6 million for road improvements and water rights.
The county already rolled out the red carpet for this type of development last summer by designating the 65-acre property as a Media District, where buildings up to 80-feet high will be allowed.

Vigil praised the project as an ideal merger of public and private interests. "I can't think of a better business for Santa Fe or the state," she said. "I think its impact is going to be phenomenal."

County commissioners will officially consider Hool's proposal next Tuesday. Working out the exact terms of the collaboration may require a few more meetings after that.

But if the rave reviews of officials and staff are an indicator, Hool's company will soon land the lead in the county's economic development plans.

Even Sullivan, the only commissioner who asked any pointed questions about the project to date, seemed Tuesday to be viewing it as a done deal. "I look forward to ironing out the details," Sullivan said. "I don't anticipate any impediments."

Contact Phaedra Haywood at 986-3068 or phaywood@sfnewmexican.com.

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