Rail Yards redevelopment chugs forward

Stephanie Guzman Albuquerque Business First

We’ve spent the year reporting mostly on the Railyards in Santa Fe, as Albuquerque’s Rail Yards hasn’t made many headlines since the city decided in January to allow the Rail Yards Market to continue to operate on Sundays.

But city officials say their planning staff and the project’s developers, Samitaur Constructs, are working to move the redevelopment project forward. Most of the activity is processes that must be completed before any construction can begin.

Last year, the Albuquerque City Council approved a master development plan with California-based Samitaur Constructs to redevelop the 27-acre Rail Yards site. Plans include a mixed-use project, with light industrial areas, a museum, housing and cultural activities. There was no activity on the site for many years, and the city envisions a revamp that could help revitalize the area and bring lots of commercial opportunities. The price tag for the redevelopment wasn’t immediately known.

This year, the developer has been conducting predevelopment activities, said Melissa Perez, a public information officer with the city’s planning department. Those activities include meeting with potential lenders, investors and tenants.

In July, Samitaur Constructs gave an update to the Albuquerque Development Commission for its annual performance review.

“The ADC gave a positive assessment report for the developer and confirmed Samitaur had made ‘reasonable diligence’ as set forth in the Master Development and Disposition Agreement in the past year,” Perez said.

The city and Samitaur Constructs have been negotiating with the state historic preservation office on a memorandum of understanding. The memorandum will establish the working relationship between the developers and the state office in regard to historic preservation of the site.

The city also hired two firms to assess the property.

The city contracted with TRC, an archaeological compliance firm, to perform an archaeological assessment at the Rail Yards. The city also contracted the geosciences and engineering consulting firm Intera to write a plan that addresses the site’s environmental conditions. The Rail Yards property reportedly has lead and other contaminants in the soil. The plan will be submitted to the New Mexico Environment Department for review.

The redevelopment of the Rail Yards is expected to be a complex and long process. Perez said the next steps include finalizing the archaeological study, submitting the environmental cleanup plan, executing the memorandum of understanding and continuing predevelopment activities.