Bill Would Have City Buy Santa Fe Railyard Land

By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer

Thursday, November 18, 2004
The city of Albuquerque would try to acquire up to 27 acres at the old Santa Fe railyards under a bill proposed by City Councilor Eric Griego.

Griego said he hopes the proposal will ignite redevelopment efforts in the Barelas and Downtown area. The site has been the subject of a lawsuit over who controls the property and disputes among different groups planning projects there.

“It’s an ideal site for the city to begin to invest in,” Griego said Wednesday. “This (proposal) will finally say, ‘Everyone come together, or we’ll take over the site.’ ”

The railroad yards south of Coal Avenue could be a great spot for a Downtown arena, the Wheels Museum, a film studio, a hotel, an exposition center, or some combination of those, Griego said. Land costs there are less expensive than the Downtown land previously eyed for an arena, he said.

The rail land is now privately owned, Griego said. At least some of it is at the center of a federal lawsuit by an Ohio developer against the Urban Council of Albuquerque Inc. The Urban Council is a nonprofit redevelopment group that controls the property.

Griego said his resolution may not be needed if the groups involved in the site work out their differences and allow redevelopment to go forward.

The bill is to be formally introduced to the City Council next month. It calls for the city to either buy the railroad property or take legal action to get it.

Griego said the mayoral administration already made about $15 million available this year to acquire or improve property Downtown for an arena. Some of that money could be used for the railyards site, he said.

Any redevelopment should preserve historic buildings, Griego said.

Ann Lerner, director of the Albuquerque Film Office, said she was concerned about the timing of Griego’s bill. She said Digital Media Group is already in “sensitive negotiations” with the Urban Council for a film studio on some of the railroad property.

“The timing seems off,” Lerner said.

Mayor Martin Chávez had no immediate comment on the proposal.