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SANTA FE, NM-With 20% of the infrastructure done, the $100-million Santa Fe Railyard project will push into 2007 at full throttle. Work on the first ground-up building in the 500,000-sf mixed-use development will begin in the first quarter as the rest of the infrastructure goes down.

By this time next year, the bulk of the new and redeveloped office and retail space will be open for business, Richard Czoski, executive director of the Santa Fe Railyard Community Corp., tells GlobeSt.com. The 50-acre undertaking, in the works since 1995, will be fully finished by second quarter 2008.

Czoski says the redevelopment, situated one mile south of the city’s historic Downtown plaza, has been 80% ground leased to date. Four galleries have opened in retooled buildings, but the first new space to get underway will be a 30,000-sf Farmers Market.

With the stepped-up activity, the Railyard Co. LLC, a local development group, has reeled in the largest tenant to date. Seattle-based Recreational Equipment Inc., an outdoor equipment co-op, will take down 28,000 sf. The developer’s ground-leased site–planned for a 120,000-sf structure and 2,000-seat cinema–sits atop a 400-space underground parking garage, which is about half done. The cinema is scheduled to open in spring 2008.

Czoski says railyard infrastructure work will wrap up in the summer. At completion, the development will be roughly 20% adaptive reuse and 80% new space, with street-level retail and second-floor office. The tallest building will be 36 feet.

The first phase of development, starting at the northern end, will include 25 condos. And, Czoski adds, there are 300 names already on the waiting list. Another 60 to 80 live-work units will be built on a 10-acre tract at the railyard’s southern edge.

And it might be Santa Fe, but the only Pueblo structures will be the historic ones in keeping with city mandates. “We don’t want to diminish the significance of those buildings,” Czoski stresses.

The Santa Fe Railyard is the city’s largest commercial project in decades. The “vision” came about in 1995, when the city acquired 50 acres of the still-operational railyard with financial help from the Trust for Public Land. Seven years went into the master plan and $2 million into archaeological digs, producing artifacts from the 1880s railroad-building era. The non-profit Santa Fe Railyard Community Corp. was formed in 2002 to complete construction on the cleaned-up brownfield site.

The railyard makeover will come on line about one year in advance of the Santa Fe-Albuquerque commuter rail line opening. Although a multi-modal center will be built on state land about one mile to the south, Czoski says the railyard’s depot has a strategic edge because it’s within walking distance of several state office buildings.

The goal is to create a project that “will be every bit as active animated as the historic plaza Downtown,” Czoski says. “The fact is there are more folks and events that want to use the plaza Downtown than can be accommodated.”

The railyard project will include a 25,000-sf teen center for performing arts; 30,000-sf multi-media center operated by non-profit Site Santa Fe; El Museo Cultural’s theater and art combo; and a 10-acre park controlled by the Trust for Public Land. “We are trying to create an area that will appeal to locals of all socio-economic classes as well as visitors,” Czoski says.

To help build the project, the Santa Fe Railyard Community Corp. has received $6.1 million from state, city and federal land grants and is eligible for an additional $2.4 million. The project’s architects are Bohannan Hustin Inc. in Albuquerque and Santa Fe-based Design Workshop Inc. Klinger Constructors, also from Albuquerque, will be the general contractor.

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