The city of Santa Fe held the first of three "open houses" today to give the public the chance to comment on design ideas for the redesign of St Michael's Drive.

The event, held at Cinema Café a little south of the St Mike's / Cerrillos interchange, showcases the design elements suggested by contractor Urban Advantage. It continues until 7 pm tonight and is also open tomorrow from 3 to 7 pm and this Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm.

In order to beautify St Mike's and make it more hospitable to pedestrians, the design elements strive to create a "building frontage, rather than a parking lot frontage." That means buildings would ideally have multiple tenants with a lot of window space in their storefronts and entrances off the sidewalk, rather than a drive-up parking lot side entrance. Buildings would be closer to the sidewalk and car-centric features like drive-thrus would be kept on the back side of buildings, away from the sidewalk.

The new St Mike's is envisioned as a promenade with four traffic lanes total, instead of the current seven, and a wide landscaped median. Trees on the sidewalk and New Mexican style covered walkways and portals would enhance the experience for window shoppers.

Open house attendees can fill out comment sheets evaluating the ideas and pepper city long range planning director Reed Liming, city senior planner Richard Macpherson and project specialist Maria Vigil with questions.