Santa Fe has the reputation for being a first-class tourist destination, but it’s not just tourists the city planners have in mind when they begin developing new attraction areas. The Santa Fe Railyard – made up of the North Railyard and the Baca Railyard – is a shining example of what can happen when the local community is kept in the loop. Within its 50 combined acres, there are not only restaurants, museums, boutiques and art galleries, but a wide selection of attractions with both visitors and locals in mind.
Overseen by the Santa Fe Railyard Community Corporation (SFRCC), The Santa Fe Railyard is owned by the City of Santa Fe and is home to a diverse mix of businesses. Included are deeply rooted non-profits, such as the Santa Fe Farmers Market, SITE Santa Fe, and El Museo Cultural. These organizations stand proudly alongside performance art spaces, contemporary art galleries, and even the cutting-edge 11-screen Violet Crown Cinema.
“We have so much going on here,” says Director of Events and Marketing Sandra Brice. “We’ve got the Farmer’s Market, the Artist’s Market, free outdoor concerts and movies, festivals, two trains coming through, multiple restaurants, breweries and shops, museums, and art galleries. There’s something for everybody, from parks and play areas to the trains and amazing shops.”
The reconstruction of the historic Railyard has been decades in the making, beginning in 1987, when the city began taking stock of what had become a blighted area, due to the decline of the railroad system. From the outset, the city made it clear that this would not become just another shopping mall.
“From the beginning, the community let the city know what their priorities were,” Sandra says. “They wanted it to be a home for some of the significant non-profits in the area. They also wanted the emphasis to be on local businesses, not national chains. In addition, they wanted at least one set of railroad tracks to remain, just in case rail service ever returned. Thank goodness that was worked into the plan, because just after the first phase of development was completed in 2008, the Railrunner came to town.” This year, the Sky Railway excursion train has added its schedule to a very active rail line.
This explains why it took years to complete the project. The development was curated by the community from the start, something of which the citizens of Santa Fe are very proud. As a result, according to Sandra, “You won’t find another center quite like it anywhere else in the country. The Railyard is totally unique and is the new community gathering place for locals and visitors to Santa Fe alike.”
Included within the 40 acres of the North Railyard are such notable art houses as Art Vault, Blue Rain Gallery, Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Evoke Contemporary, LewAllen Galleries, and Tai Modern. There are several specialty retail shops and numerous food and drink establishments to choose from including Altar Spirits, 2nd Street Brewery, Boxcar, Opuntia Café, La Lecheria, Violet Crown Café and the Farmers Market Café Fresh. Need to work out after all that good food? Check out Railyard Fitness. Soon to open are Nuckolls Brewing Co. and Restoration Pizza. The 14 acres of public space offer a robust schedule of events that are open and free to the public, including a free Family Movie Series in the Railyard Park, free concerts at the Water Tower, art markets, festivals, performances and more.
“We even have a couple of very high-tech scientific labs here, including Specifica and Descartes Labs,” says Sandra. “It’s pretty amazing. People are often shocked by the variety of activities here in the Railyard.”
The Baca Railyard has developed into a unique design & residential community, home to designers such as David Naylor Interiors and Serquis + Associates and architecture firms including dnca, Needbased Inc, and DaSilva Architecture. Also included are a host of individual artists and designers, the Santa Fe Art Auction, Justin’s Frame Design, Undisputed Fitness, Raven Fine Consignment, software firm EMR Bear, Pie Projects Contemporary Art, and the charming Argentinian-themed Cafecito Restaurant.
At the moment, the Railyard has just two more parcels left to build up in the North Railyard, and two small parcels in the Baca Railyard. Those remaining parcels are already under lease and SFRCC is currently looking at design development proposals. Though they appear to be closing in on the final stages of the decades-long project, Sandra knows better than to give exact dates for such an organic project. “I like to say we’re on the verge of completion,” she says.
To get a full picture of what the Santa Fe Railyard has to offer, one need only visit their amazingly comprehensive website. A full list of the events taking place in just the next two weeks can be found on the home page, as well as monthly calendars packed with event information stretching well into the end of the year.
“There’s no way we can cover everything here that’s happening at the Railyard, but the website is as comprehensive as we can make it,” says Sandra. “We include parking information, maps and directions for both the North and Baca Railyards, history and awards, as well as videos telling the story of the early planning process and the people who made it happen. We take a lot of pride in keeping our website up-to-date and full of life.”
This article was posted by David Salcido