Fresh from opening the doors to a new women’s ritual bath in the nation’s second-oldest city, a New Mexico Jewish center is moving forward with plans to build a 10,000-square-foot complex in the historic downtown of Santa Fe.

A deal that is set to close at the end of the month will see the Chabad-Lubavith Jewish Center purchase a 1.2-acre lot for $330,000 near the city’s Plaza, a one-block square in the heart of downtown, said the center’s director, Rabbi Berel Levertov. The same architect who built the center’s new ritual bath – it opened May 13 – will also design the new center, a Spanish-pueblo style building with adobe walls and a 200-person social hall.

For Halley Faust, a bio-ethicist who moved to the city four years ago, more luxurious facilities are the ideal way to attract more people to the 14-year-old Jewish Center.

“Our current center is not large enough for our congregation now,” said Faust, who is helping to fund the project. “We especially need more space for holidays, when we get larger numbers. The new space will afford greater comfort for large crowds.”

Levertov said that plans call for the sale of the center’s current facility to raise additional money. The move is designed to strengthen a larger Jewish community of about 4,000 people, and allow the Chabad center to develop its Hebrew school, weekly prayer services, women’s circle and improved holiday celebrations. The most attractive aspect of the property, he beamed, is its location.

“It sits in a really prominent position,” explained Levertov. “The fact that people can see a prominent Jewish center will reinforce for them that Judaism is alive and well. Just seeing such a prominent building can affect how they see themselves and their own practice. Seeing that we exist in such a prominent location can encourage them slowly to participate as well.”

While the project is still in its infancy, Levertov is researching the possibility for the new center to be constructed as a net zero-energy building. Using cutting-edge technology, such buildings function autonomously from the energy grid supply, instead harvesting their energy needs on-site.

“We’re really looking forward to having a beautiful new building,” said Jeffery Krenzel, who moved from California more than four years ago. “Our center will be in a more prominent location than any other synagogue in town and will have a really beautiful design. The move is going to be really beneficial for our community and we can use all the help we can get to make it a reality.”