Re:Claiming St. Mike’s

18 Sep

By Jessica O’Brien

Booze, music, dancing, and people—one great big festive blowout to kickoff a weekend all about project RE:MIKE. That’s what will be going down at Molly’s on Sept. 21.

Molly’s Restaurant is located in the heart of the “wasteland” known as St. Michael’s Drive. The venue’s informal kickoff will be held in order to get people excited about the idea that this Santa Fean so-called wasteland has potential to become a wonderland.

“Where’s the vibrant nightlife?” asks RE:MIKE co-founder Daniel Werwath.

RE:MIKE wants to change the way Santa Fe thinks about the St. Michael’s Drive corridor.

Werwath works with fellow co-founder Zane Fischer on their RE:MIKE project, each putting in an insane amount of effort in hopes that St Michael’s may soon realize its potential.

When the dynamic duo are not RE:MIKEing, Werwath is a self-employed affordable housing planner and community developer while Fisher is principal partner at contracting with a background in journalism.

“And we’re meddlers,” adds Werwath.

RE: MIKE has been established to create a hub of activity around the retail-rotted corridor of St Michael’s. The area under reconstruction is capped by Santa Fe University of Art and Design on one end and Christus St Vincent’s Regional Medical Center on the other. Fischer and Werwath look to introduce a new energy into the middle stretch, while bringing culture to the area through venues, art displays, and businesses that will allow an environment for people to congregate–especially student life.

“There’s a new situation: starting fresh,” MeowWolf’s Vince Kadlubek says of RE:MIKE’s efforts to get college kids off campus. “How can we get students to realize that there’s something bigger to be a part of?” Kadlubek, who has been collaborating with RE:MIKE, views the project as a type of “motivation.”

“Here it’s kinda wide open,” says Werwath of St. Michael’s. Right now, the RE:MIKEable area consists of a high concentration of young people with a low income and nothing to do.

So, what can be done about it?

Part of the charm of St. Michael’s Dr. is its six-lane street and lack of sufficient sidewalk. Walkability, as well as bike-ability, is set as a definite problem-to-be-resolved. Once safe pathways are secured, the issue of enacting a positive nightlife in sleepy Santa Fe should be quick to resolve.

But wait—there are longterm goals too! Extending on the issue of transportation, the visionaries at RE:MIKE are looking to open up a trail to campus and possibly establish public transportation for the students of SFUAD. Fischer, Werwath, and others hope to occupy the surrounding buildings that are currently shut down, turning them into either booming businesses or affordable housing (as in 1,000 units of housing by building vertically).

Of course, these propositions depend on the acceptance of the public: during the weekend RE:MIKE event, citizens can expect to see a mock atmosphere of what RE:MIKE wishes to accomplish. There will be food, fun, design competitions, guest speakers such as Candy Chang, and live music from bands like A Hawk and a Hacksaw.

One of the mini-projects to be completed before the RE:MIKE launch festivities is the revamping of an arroyo between the SFUAD campus and a strip mall that contains Annapurna’s and OmegaMart.

Fischer refers to the arroyo as a “heroin tunnel,” for now. The ditch-like area has been frequented by gang members, drug addicts, homeless persons, and the like. But Werwath hopes for it to become part of a “simulated river walk,” similar to the one found in San Antonio. The goal is to transform the arroyo into an area that is student-friendly and accessible.

Werwath would like the RE:MIKE project to be a “transition from talking to actually doing.”

Though he envisions a lot, he stays reasonable. “Some of these ideas are easier to do if they’re temporary,” says the man with the plan. “If there’s a lock there—a gate—at least it’s a step.”