When you step off the Rail Runner at the Santa Fe Railyard, what awaits at the end of the line?
A short walk away, art galleries and retail stores are the meat and potatoes of the Railyard District. Restaurants with New Mexican, Italian and American fare compete for visitors' dollars as well. SITE Santa Fe and Warehouse 21 round out in the neighborhood, and the Plaza is a short trek from the train stop.
Coyote’s Paw Gallery co-owner Ann Lehman says mom-and-pop stores, and not big chains, should be the ones benefiting most from the Rail Runner. “I would hope that they keep the unique quality of the neighborhood,” Lehman says. “If more businesses come in, I’d like to see that they be small businesses that are locally owned.”
REI is so far the only major chain taking up residence in the Railyard.
The business owners the Alibi spoke with say they’re pleased the Rail Runner is coming to Santa Fe. But grumblings have surfaced about the train’s schedule, which may cater to commuters more than tourists. Tague says he hopes more midday trains will eventually get penciled in. “Tourists wanting to travel to Santa Fe are generally going to be traveling during the day,” Tague says. “I’ve heard a lot of negative remarks about the lack of trains during that time.”
If more businesses come in, I’d like to see that they be small businesses that are locally owned.
Ann Lehman, co-owner of Coyote’s Paw Gallery
The Railyard sports a more modern look than other parts of Santa Fe. Brick and concrete beat out adobe, and bright red, purple and green buildings speckle the district. Structures tend to stand two or sometimes three stories high; the Railyard favors building up over building out.
The compact neighborhood invites heavy foot traffic. But aside from a handful of passersby, few pedestrians stroll from store to store. Residents say they wish more people would take advantage of what the area offers.
Santa Fe resident Fawn Delgado says the Railyard District is one of the most visitor-friendly parts of the city. “This is probably the spot where there’s the most going on,” she says. “There’s plenty of galleries and shopping right here and at the Plaza.”
Jeff Croy, owner of The Reel Life fly-fishing store says the Rail Runner should give businesses’ profits a shot in the arm. “It’s going to be efficient, fun and good for commerce,” Croy says. “I’m looking forward to using it.
Business owners and Santa Fe residents wait eagerly to see passengers and their cash come rolling down the tracks. Many promise to return the favor. Most of the folks the Alibi gabbed with say they’ll ride the Rail Runner to visit the Duke City more often. They mentioned shopping, catching an Isotopes game and visiting museums as reasons for taking the trip. Others say they’ll board the train to get to the airport and not much else.
Santa Fean Joe Baca’s interest in venturing to Albuquerque hasn’t grown an inch, even though the Rail Runner stops right by his work. “I guess I hadn’t really thought about it,” Baca says. “I would say no.”