The Southside teen center is nearing groundbreaking after decades in the making, with the City Council unanimously approving a $9.2 million agreement with Albuquerque-based contractor Jaynes Corporation at its meeting Wednesday evening.
“It’s absolutely an achievement that everybody should take some pride in and we should all recognize that it’s only a beginning to address the needs of our young people not only on the Southside but across all of Santa Fe,” Mayor Alan Webber said at the meeting.
The city expects to begin construction next month and open the center to the public in May 2023—about six months later than originally planned.
Officials extended the timeline from 12 to 18 months after contractors “alerted the city to persistent volatility in the construction market,” Sam Burnett, project manager and facilities division director for the Public Works department, tells SFR.
Construction companies have been grappling with labor and building material supply shortages, as have many other businesses in town. The pandemic-driven shortages have slowed down many projects and ground others to a halt.
With neighbors including the Southside Library and Zona del Sol Youth and Family Center, the teen center will be located on the corner of Valentine Way and Country Club Road.
Councilor Roman “Tiger” Abeyta has long pushed for the center. He says his community has been clamoring for it since the 1990s.
Unlike other districts, Abeyta’s District 3 lacks a place for local youth to call their own despite likely having the highest concentration of young people and families in the city, according to Abeyta.
“There’s no place for teens on the Southside to hang out,” Abeyta says. “District 4 has the Chavez Center, District 1 has Fort Marcy, District 2 has Salvador Perez. There’s nothing in District 3.”
Abeyta says he’s working with the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council and community group Earthcare to set up the center to also provide educational and health services.
“The teen center is going to be a place where teens can not only come and hang out but hopefully get services they need,” Abeyta says. “For example, driver’s ed could be something that could be offered there. You could have a health clinic in there. Different uses, so that it’s not just a recreational center but a resource center for the teens as well.”
Architectural plans presented to the community in May show a three-story, stucco building with a small courtyard, gym, game room, kitchen and several multipurpose rooms.
While it’s too early for the city to say how many kids the center might serve, according to Burnett, the maximum occupancy of the building will be 593 people, including eight to 10 staff members the Community Services department plans to hire.