Home » Railyard near Barelas loses media shop


Railyard near Barelas loses media shop

By Mike Tumolillo

February 3, 2006

It could be take two for a digital media production facility planned for construction on the site of the old Santa Fe Railway yards.

The facility will be built somewhere else, maybe the Mesa del Sol development in southern Albuquerque, said Ed Casebier, president of Forth Worth’s Renaissance Development Co. Inc., the managing member of a local company that owns the 27-acre railyard site.

“We’re going through some replanning of how we will use the property or if we will retain it,” he said. “Right now, we’re probably leaning toward returning it to industrial use. We may just sell it.”

Nick Smerigan, director of acquisitions for Pacifica Ventures, a firm involved in the digital media facility project, said a confidentiality agreement barred him from commenting on the facility’s fate.

However, he said the railyard is “not abandoned.”

At one point, the production facility was to include sound stages, digital insert stages, a construction mill, a food service area and space for child care. It was to employ between 300 and 500 people. Projects it could tackle included TV shows, films, medical imaging technologies and virtual reality.

Casebier said plans for the railyard site would be reviewed over the next 30 days. On the list of possibilities is a mixed-use development of stores, residences and office space. Industrial and commercial development is also possible.

Turning the site into a conference center – an abandoned plan that might be revived – appeals to Cathy Garcia, president of the association for the nearby Barelas neighborhood.

“A quick flashy solution, i.e., the studios, was really not the trick,” she said. “We need to have a deeper look at things. There needs to be some realistic possibilities that have depth.”

But any development needs to respect the railyard’s history, she said.

“There are so many people here – you talk about the railyards and . . . it’s almost like a religion to them,” she said. “They say, `The whistle would blow in the morning to start work; we knew what time it was. They blew the whistle at noon; we knew it was lunchtime. They blew the whistle at night, and we knew when our family workers were going to come home.’ “

“You hear that time and time again,” she said. “It’s almost like this neighborhood was built around the railway project.”

Even if the studio goes to Mesa del Sol, it would still be a gain for the city, said Fred Mondragón, director of the city’s office of economic development.

“We really wanted them to come Downtown, but we’re pleased they’re coming to Albuquerque and they’re still going to be within the city limits of Albuquerque,” he said. “The mayor’s excited we’re getting film studios.”

Other partners in the digital media facility project could not be reached or were unable to comment on the facility’s next step.


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.

Saturday, September 30 and Sunday October 1, 2023. One of the nation’s largest operating steam locomotives, former Santa Fe 2926, will be on the move and park next to the Albuquerque Rail Yards on Saturday, September 30 through Sunday, October 1. WHEELS will have a booth at the site. Please come and visit us. For more information go to: www.2926.us

Saturday, October 21 2-4 pm. “The Great Wheels Museum Train Robbery!” Dr. Ronald Lah of the Wheels Museum with a group of local history reenactors will present the program. It will include:
Screening with discussion of the 1903 film, “The Great Train Robbery,” and the “Lawmen Train Cars” that were developed for rapid deployment after a robbery.

Discussion of the historic Socorro and San Marcia, New Mexico train robberies, and the accuracy of train robbery depictions in movies like “Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid.”

Reenactment of an Old West train robbery staged in and around the Wheels Museum’s train coach car.

Donors to the Wheels Museum Fundraiser are encouraged to take a seat in the train coach and present your donation when the "Train Robbers" go through the car. Visitors are encouraged to wear some period style Old West apparel like bowler and feathered hats and bonnets, pin-stipes, vests, and boots.

Only non-functional firearm props will be used in the re-enactment. Admission is Free: Donations gratefully accepted. Phone: (505) 243-6269 to RSVP.

Saturday, October 28, 2-4 pm. Headset Dance Party. Dance wearing headsets to a great variety of musical choices. Admission Free, but donations are gratefully accepted.

Saturday, November 4, 11 am. “A History of Albuquerque Comedy or How I Got My Kicks on
Route 66.”
Ronn Perea. Ron's presentation will give you a unique insight into a part of Albuquerque
Culture and we promise you that you will laugh out loud throughout his talk. Admission is Free: Donations gratefully accepted. Phone: (505) 243-6269 to RSVP.

Saturday, November 4, 2 pm. "Albuquerque History Challenge: Education and Fun" Roland Pentilla is an Albuquerque historian who frequently conducts downtown walking tours on behalf of the
Albuquerque Historical Society and Historic Albuquerque, Inc. Come to experience our own “Jeopardy” version of Albuquerque history complete with raffle prizes for the correct answers. Admission is Free: Donations gratefully accepted. Phone: (505) 243-6269 to RSVP.

Saturday, November 25, 10 am. “Walter steps up to the plate”. Author Sue Houser discusses her book about twelve-year-old Walter wants to spend the summer of 1927 watching his beloved Chicago Cubs play baseball. Instead,Walter must leave everything he knows and loves to accompany his mother to Albuquerque, New Mexico, a place he has never been to live with relatives he has never met. Admission is Free: Donations gratefully accepted. Phone: (505) 243-6269 to RSVP.

Railyard Worker Commemorative Plaques. Honor a loved one who worked on the railroad, honor a WHEELS volunteer or honor the WHEELS Museum. WHEELS is now selling plaques with name plates for $100.00 per name.  Keep the memory of these people alive in perpetuity with a gorgeous wooden plaque with brass name plate. Thank those who made our city and state successful, built the railroad, continue to work to preserve our history and create our future. The plaques will be displayed in the Community Room at WHEELS.

Contact Paulette Miller Weir who is graciously supporting the project and has volunteered to orchestrate this work. Her phone number is (505) 227-3270.  Please send checks for $100.00 per name and a few other words such as dates of birth or death or job held to WHEELS Museum, PO Box 95438 Albuquerque, NM 97199 or contact Ms. Miller Weir for any questions.  We can also accept credit cars payment by calling WHEELS-6269.