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Rail Yards: What now? City weighs future options

by: Stephanie Chavez Posted: Jun 15, 2022

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After more than a decade of work, and millions of dollars spent, the city is now trying to figure out what’s next for the Rail Yards, after they scrapped their original master plan.

“We all know how hard this site has been to be developed,” said City Councilor Isaac Benton, who also serves as the Chair of the Rail Yards Advisory Board. “I think we’re finally in a position where maybe something could happen,” Benton said about the decades-long project.

The redevelopment really started in 2019, after Mayor Tim Keller terminated a contract with Samitaur, a California-based developer, who wasn’t making progress on the project. Since then, it’s come a long way. The city installed utilities, resurfaced the parking lot, replaced the roof, and ripped out contaminated creosote blocks.

“If we’re too restrictive it’s going to put more pressure on getting the site developed and we could be here for another ten years,” said one of the board members, during that meeting. They know one thing for sure, they want the property to remain a public place for Albuquerque residents to enjoy.

There’s a requirement for at least 30 permanently affordable housing units on the property, but the board has a few questions, like if they should allow for more, and where the housing would go. It may take some time to come up with a new master plan, but for now, they’re keeping an open mind.

“We each have a vision of what the site could be,” said Benton. “That applies to everybody who’s ever seen that site because it’s an inspirational place,” he said.

One of the other requirements is bringing one of the original locomotives back to the site. The board is trying to figure out if it could go by the original turntable, or if there’s another place to put it on display.

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New Lego exhibit at the Wheels Museum. View The New Mexico Lego Users Group has
partnered with WHEELS to have a beautiful Lego Train layout for children of all ages to enjoy. The exhibit will vary from season to season and we invite you to come see this new Lego train exhibit.

January 8, 15, 22, 29 – Sunday morning admission free from 9 am-1 pm at the Albuquerque Museum and the City’s International Balloon Museum.

Do you have a few hours each month to help the Wheels Museum? Volunteers are needed so the Museum can be open more; run the model railroad trains, also help needed with events, marketing, fund raising. Call Leba Freed at (505) 243-6269.

Febuary 16, 11 am. Bob Bovee Long Steel Rails concert. This program for all ages presents songs and stories about the famous trains, rail workers, hobos, train wrecks and train robbers. Call or email Leba Freed for reservations at (505) 243-6269 or leba4@aol.com.

March 17, Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at WHEELS. Movie, tours, train ride and food celebration.

April 1, 1 pm. Doug Figgs and Badger. Back by popular demand. By reservations only (505) 243- 6269. Doug’s show was sold out last year, so call early! Donation: $10.00.

April 8, 11 am. “Historic Albuquerque” Ronn Perea will present old Albuquerque anecdotes including delightful stories about our beloved Alvarado Hotel and the politicians, actors and entertainers who stayed there. This is a free event but, of course, donations are always appreciated.

April 22, Wheels Museum Day trip to Rancho De Chimayo Restaurante, El Santuario de Chimayo and the Santa Fe Plaza. Call Leba or Janet at (505) 243-6269 for more information. The museum is a 501C3 non-profit community organization whose mission is to create a transportation museum at the downtown Albuquerque Steam Locomotive Repair Shops.

May 19-May 23, Train trip to the Grand Canyon. Only a few spaces left.Scheduled through Amtrak Vacations, call Leba or Janet at (505) 243-6269 for reservations and more information.