Redevelopment of Albuquerque Rail Yard Planned

Historic Barelas railroad yards to undergo revitalization. Work space, restaurants, and performance venues planned, Mayor Richard J. Berry and City Council Isaac Benton announce.

Mayor Richard J. Berry and City Councilor Isaac Benton announced the next steps in the future of the Albuquerque Rail Yards.

Through a competitive procurement process, the City selected Samitaur Constructs and their partners, New Mexico-based BUILD New Mexico, as the Master Developer team to lead the redevelopment of the city’s historic Rail Yards, located just south of downtown.

“The decades-long wait to find the team to lead the restoration and renaissance of this important site is finally over,” Mayor Berry said. “This diamond-in-the-rough that we call the Rail Yards will become a vital part of our city and region once again. We have a real gem in the Rail Yards and it’s time that we make this area more functional and add on to the beauty of these neighborhoods.”

Work Space, Restaurants & Entertainment
Samitaur is known for its redevelopment of blighted urban areas, such as Conjunctive Points, a mixed-use neighborhood of work space, restaurants, and entertainment and performance venues in the industrial area of Culver City and adjacent Los Angeles, California. Frederick and Laurie Samitaur Smith have more than 35 years of experience in urban design, development, and property management, mostly in Southern California.

“I look forward to working with the Samitaur Smiths and Samitaur Constructs to take this project to the next level,” Councilor Benton said. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but we’ve just taken an important step by selecting a partner with as much experience and similar priorities to ours as the Samitaur Smiths have.”

Neighborhood Anchor
Residents of the historic Barelas and South Broadway neighborhoods, many of whom grew up in the area, have been closely involved in efforts to redevelop the site, including the selection of Samitaur. Barelas neighborhood representative and selection committee member Ron Romero said of the redevelopment opportunity.

“We are thrilled to be chosen to take on the exciting challenge of redeveloping this amazing site,” Frederick Smith said. “Our ambition is for the Rail Yards to become a community focal point for all of Albuquerque.”

Help identify the men who worked in the Shops

“We have a photo of many of the men who worked in the shops. They’re on a locomotive, and we would love to identify the men,” said Leba Freed, the president of the WHEELS Transportation Museum in Albuquerque. “Sadly, they’re gone now, but we are hoping many of the family members would be able to identify them.”

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Greasy, covered in their hard work, the men were machinists and boilermakers who kept the railroad running from 1920 through the 1960s.

“They restored as many as 40 locomotives, and each one weighed as much as a million pounds,” Freed said.

Freed said the men’s work brought bigger things to Albuquerque.

“The railroad came and it built Albuquerque,” Freed said. “Had the railroad not come, we really think that Albuquerque would never have become a city.”

Leon Padilla of Bernalillo said his grandfather and uncles are in the photograph.

“I remember seeing the locomotives in the shop over there when I came to visit my grandfather,” Padilla said.

Dennis Baca, a retired railroad worker from Los Lunas, said he wants to know who the men are so their stories can be recorded.

“Once that history is dead, we will never see it,” Baca said.

Baca said the group has had some success identifying people in the photo.

“At the rail market one day, I saw a man who picked up the photo and he had tears in his eyes and he says, ‘I know this guy,’ and I said, ‘Who is that?’ He said, ‘That’s me,’” Baca said.

“Some people may have the old railroad records. They may have a lantern. They may have a photo of their grandpa,” Freed said.

Items that might be buried in a box could be pieces of history that belonged to the railroad or evidence of someone who played an instrumental role in keeping the trains running, Freed said.

The picture is at a booth every Sunday at the rail yard farmers market.