The future of the sprawling Rail Yards property in downtown Albuquerque may finally be coming into focus now that a team of consultants has been tasked to provide a redevelopment roadmap.
The home to a one-time thriving Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad complex, the 27-acre site has for years been the subject of discussions and studies regarding its housing, retail, and office space potential.
Last year Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller canceled the city’s contract with Samitaur Constructs, a Culver City, California-based urban development firm, which for six years had been in charge of the redevelopment project.
In a public event at the Rail Yards, Keller ripped up the Samitaur contract after the Albuquerque Development Commission said the California firm had for the second year in a row failed to exercise reasonable diligence regarding the project.
Now a new consultant team, made up of three separate firms, has been brought in to put together a new vision for the Rail Yards.
A member of that team, the Leland Consulting Group of Portland, Oregon, has just released a draft report recommending the development of up to 20,000 square feet of retail space at the site over the course of the next ten years.
Leland has additionally suggested keeping in place and renovating two existing structures at the site, the old machine and boiler shops, to be used for special events, concerts, and festivals.
Seen as a possible linchpin to the redevelopment is a proposal to build a film production center that would be operated by Central New Mexico Community College.
That part of the redevelopment plan could see the creation of a full-scale 35,000 square-foot film production facility and student training center with classrooms and studio space.
Earlier this year, the City of Albuquerque and CNM entered into a Memorandum of Understanding allowing for the further study of how much it would cost to establish the center.
A final report looking at structural renovation and site remediation issues, among other items, is expected to be submitted by Leland to the city later this month.
By Garry Boulard
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