Albuquerque Netflix expansion begins as charter school on studio-owned land plans its own move


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Netflix is planning a big expansion in Albuquerque, but a local charter school still sits in the middle of the plot of land they plan to build on. Portables have made up the International School at Mesa del Sol for years, and soon, they’ll finally get a brand new campus.

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The massive expansion is now in the works for Netflix’s Albuquerque Studios. Plans show they’re adding more stages and backlots across hundreds of acres north and east of their current set-up.

“They actually purchased this land almost a year ago,” said Barbra Langmaid, Executive Director of The International School at Mesa del Sol. “They purchased 300 acres.”

However, there’s one hiccup. The school still sits smack dab in the middle of that plot of land Netflix bought.

“We have been here since 2009,” said Langmaid. “We started with 44 students as a K-4 school and at that point, we had six portables.”

Now, it’s a pre-K through 12th, with more than 20 portables. The school is planning to leave the plot now owned by Netflix and move into a new campus currently being built nearby on the mesa.

“Lockers for the middle and high school kids, and having a covered courtyard outdoor area to be able to eat and enjoy. They’re really excited about the ‘newness’ versus the swamp coolers or the older buildings or the carpet peeling up, those types of things,” said Langmaid, who says the school worked with a firm who specializes in charter schools. “They found us the land across the street because per our charter agreement, we have to stay up here on the mesa. We came up with a design of five buildings which actually represents our logo which is five different colored circles representing the international rings.”

But with construction delays because of the pandemic, the timetable for that move was extended by months. Now, Netflix is beginning dirt work and getting site plans in place with the city, but they have to work around the school, putting up a privacy fence in the meantime.

“They’re moving dirt, they’re moving utilities, they’re doing all of those kinds of things and once they get their permits, they’ll start building their buildings around us until we’re vacating this spring and they’ll take over this area here,” said Langmaid. “They have been very gracious in giving us time in this lease and not having us have to move or any of those types of things. I don’t think they were quite aware that we were going to be here for part of their build, so they’ve been helpful and been supportive and good neighbors.”

Leaders from the school – which serves students from a number of nearby counties – say so far, the streaming giant has been understanding of the delays. Langmaid says they even helped when it came to the school getting permits for their new site.

The International School at Mesa del Sol hopes to be fully moved onto the new campus by the end of March after spring break but will begin some moves before the end of this year. Representatives for Netflix say they plan to discuss the site plans more in-depth during the Nov. 3 Development Review Board meeting.

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