ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – One of the next multi-million-dollar projects the city’s eyeing for the Rail Yards property seeks to fix up the primary ways people get on to the site.
The City of Albuquerque now has millions in new local, state and federal funds earmarked for the rail Yards just south of downtown. In the coming year, about $2.4 million dollars will be poured into the road, sidewalks and landscaping leading up to the north side of the facility.
“Obviously we want to make the connection with downtown,” said Lawrence Rael, chief operating officer for the city of Albuquerque.
Rael is one of the main administrators overseeing the Rail Yards redevelopment under Mayor Tim Keller. He says the city recently closed a “request for proposals” for developers to revamp First Street. “The entire First Street corridor will be redeveloped,” Rael said.
Wednesday, the connection the Rail Yards has to downtown Albuquerque is relatively bleak with limited and broken sidewalks, no landscaping and an older roadway.
Half of the sidewalk leading up to the property’s main entrance at First and Hazeldine is covered with large jagged rocks. The rocks were put in in early 2015 after Mayor Richard Berry’s administration evicted a “Tent City” that lined the formerly unpaved, dirt sidewalk on First Street.
Rael says the city in part wants to make a “nicer entrance” into the property, but that’s not all. “There’s also some real practical things we’ve got to do, for example, we’ve got to expand the water and sewer system,” Rael said.
The utility expansion is another sign of what’s to come at the Rail Yards, as the city is preparing people to finally begin regularly using the site in the next few years. Rael says CNM is underway with planning for film classes to take place in the Blacksmith shop. The city has also asked developers to submit ideas for private businesses that could go in the old fire station building and the “pattern house” building along Second Street.
“There’s going to be a lot of activity happening here and you’ll start seeing some of that here as we get closer to the summertime because we have funding available to move forward,” Rael said.
The city says it’s also about to start a structural study of the “Boiler Shop” building, which is one of the biggest buildings on site. That building is the same one someone set on fire in 2018, causing a lot of damage to the roof and supports.
The city doesn’t have a start date for the Rail Yards road work. About $1 million of the $2 million project is being paid for with a federal grant.