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Mayor Tim Keller’s Efforts to Take Back Rail Yards Clears First Hurdle

City ends contract with out-of-state company, moves forward with ‘placemaking’ economic development agenda

September 16, 2018

Today, Mayor Tim Keller attended the Rail Yards Market to provide the community with an update on the status of the site. Mayor Keller’s efforts to take back the Albuquerque Rail Yards cleared the first hurdle with the termination of a contract between the City of Albuquerque and out-of-state developer Samitaur Constructs, the long-time contractor of the Rail Yards. Now, efforts to redevelop the area as part of a ‘placemaking’ economic development agenda can begin.

The City entered the contract with the Culver City, California-based company in 2012, with plans to develop the historic site. The project has since stalled and the Albuquerque Development Commission found that Samitaur had not employed reasonable diligence over the past year on the project, for the second year, allowing the City to break ties with the company.

“Our work to take back Albuquerque, block-by-block, is coming right here to the Rail Yards. We took back the keys from the out-of-state developer so we can work with the community in Barelas and the surrounding areas to bring the vision for the heart of our city to life,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “By invigorating the talent, history and resources we already have in Albuquerque, we can finally make sure the Rail Yards reaches it’s full potential as a place for people to gather for all kinds of community activities.”

The City purchased the 27.3-acre site in 2007 with plans to convert the site into a multi-use development with office space, cultural spaces, retail and light commercial facilities and housing. Since the acquisition of the property, the City has spent $1.5 million on improvements and due diligence reports.  Thus far the City has updated one building, the former blacksmith shop, housing the seasonal Rail Yards Market since 2014.

Following the proof of the success of the Rail Yards Market as a family and business friendly event, one of the first tasks the City plans to take on is doubling the size of the market.

Alaska Piper, the manager of the Rail Yards Market said, “For the past few years, we have made the market a destination for families, friends and neighbors to come and enjoy many of the things our City has to offer. This place is part of our history, our creativity, and it has the potential to be part of a brighter future for Albuquerque.”

The initial task for the City in the redevelopment project is to begin with environmental remediation.

“In the past, no one wanted to take responsibility of the cleanup that needs to happen before anything else can begin,” Mayor Keller added. “We’re not going to waste any more time by shirking that responsibility, and are finally getting the ball rolling.”

Redeveloping the Rail Yards is part of Mayor Tim Keller’s ‘placemaking’ initiative, one of six components of the long-term economic development plan he announced this summer.