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Rail car, container development on track for SF Railyard

SANTA FE – A new railroad-themed dining and retail development may be pulling into the Santa Fe Railyard district as soon as next summer, if it all stays on track.

The Santa Fe Railyard Community Corp. announced Wednesday that it had signed a letter of intent with Menaker Development and All Aboard Dining Cars to fill the last of the available parcels for lease in the North Railyard with a business center including dining in an antique rail car and space for shops in retrofitted shipping containers,

The letter is an agreement to review design plans and potentially negotiate a lease. According to Richard Czoski, executive director of the community corporation — the nonprofit that oversees development of the city-owned Railyard — his organization still needs to review a final site plan to ensure compliance with the Railyard Master Plan and city codes before there’s a done deal.

If everything is approved, Czoski said the target is to have a lease signed no later than March 1 and for the space to be under construction by the second quarter of 2019.

“We’re excited to see a railroad-themed project in the Railyard after all these years,” said Czoski. “It’s challenging from an engineering perspective, which is why it hasn’t been done before.”

But he said if all is approved, he thinks the project has the potential to become a local “destination.”

“I feel like its a great opportunity for a local restaurant to have a unique venue and we’re excited about the ability of this project to generate more foot traffic in the Railyard,” he added.

The 10,000-square-foot site on a lot on Paseo de Peralta next to the Warehouse 21 teen art center would be anchored by a 10-foot-by-85-foot 1927 Pullman train car restored to function as a restaurant.

In addition, the plan is to incorporate as many as 30 20- and 40-foot shipping containers converted to suit such businesses as clothing boutiques, jewelry shops, art galleries, coffee or wine bars or specialty food outlets.

Mitch Menaker, who now makes his home in Orlando, Fla. but plans to move to Santa Fe in 2020, said he hopes to build similar developments around the country. “This is the first (of this kind), but I’ve been a developer since 1983,” he said in a phone interview. “I’d like to do 25 projects around the country in the next three to five years.”

Menaker said that Bunny Terry and Paul Duran of Keller Williams Realty in Santa Fe will handle the leasing and management of the property. Any tenants occupying the dining car or shipping containers would be subject to approval by the Railyard Community Corp. Czoski said all tenants would be local businesses.

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