The story behind the neighborhood: According to Tom, it was "a very scary place" when he moved here in 1989. Since then, it has evolved slowly and on a house-by-house basis. Now it's a friendly, ethnically mixed neighborhood of younger families and longtime residents, and the downtown is being revitalized.
Want in? Average price runs about $400K ( www.rammedearth.com). The cost of new or remodeled housing runs $200 to $300 per square foot, including land. Demand is high, and housing stock is limited. A nearby planned development called Rio Nuevo, which is just beginning construction, also celebrates colonial Mexican architecture.
Other new city places we love
• Conover Commons in Redmond, WA, is one of Northwest architect Ross Chapin's and Cottage Company's "pocket neighborhoods." The award-winning answer to the challenge of small-scale development features a dozen well-designed two-bedroom, two-bath cottages surrounding a garden courtyard. www.cottagecompany.com
• Downtown Albuquerque is enjoying a loft boom, and the most intriguing project is at the Gothic-style 1914 Albuquerque High School. Located in the EDo (or East Downtown) neighborhood, the in-city village will feature 180 "on-campus" lofts, 54 of them in the former gym. www.abqhigh.com