ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - After years of debating and planning, work is finally set to begin on part of the historic rail yards in downtown Albuquerque.
The city is just two weeks away from starting construction.
"We'll have designated parking spots. We'll have power outlets. We'll have lighting. We'll have a fire suppression system in here as well," Mayor Richard J. Berry said.
The former Santa Fe Railway shop complex has been sitting vacant ever since the city bought the 27-acre property for more than $8 million under then-Mayor Marty Chavez in 2007.
Earlier this week the mayor, city planners and the project contractors toured the facility including the old blacksmith shop with blueprints in hand . The approximately 27,000-square-foot area is where more of the work will take place.
Berry told KRQE News 13 the first round of construction will not be anything drastic. Instead, the rail yards will pretty much look like they do now; they will just be safer.
"Everything above 8 feet we're going to leave the original glass in place because it's interesting and it adds to the character," Berry said. "But we'll take all the broken glass and loose glass out of that."
The city is spending $750,000 approved by taxpayers for the renovation.
The mayor said the goal is to be able to have growers markets, car shows and even concerts at the site once the construction is finished.
"We think we can have our first events here in August if things go as planned," the mayor said.
That, though, is just the start of what Berry envisions for the historic area. Eventually he hopes to attract businesses and even residents.
"This is a big project, and it's going to take decades to get done," he said. "It's really one of the crown jewels of the Southwest. They don't make places like this anymore."
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