An ongoing battle over a lease arrangement for the city-owned railyard has concluded--though not to the satisfaction of its longtime tenant, the Santa Fe Southern Railway.
Today, in a letter to the Santa Fe Railyard Community Corporation, the nonprofit responsible for implementing the city's master plan for the Railyard, Santa Fe Southern President Carol Raymond declined SFRCC's latest offer in a lengthy round of negotiations over leasing a portion of the downtown railyard.
For 18 years, Santa Fe Southern has run historic trains out of the Railyard under a lease agreement with the city. But Raymond says SFRCC's latest offer makes a renewed lease impossible.
"With this last proposal, we are forced to reconsider our business model," Raymond writes in her letter to SFRCC President Steve Robinson. "It does not include the depot."
"We have been presented with less and less desirable options, and each time we have watched ourselves operate out of the fear that we will lose something if we don't deal," Raymond's letter continues. "This is no way to do business, much less to live."
According to SFRCC President Richard Czoski, negotiations between the city and Santa Fe Southern broke down around the amount of rent SFSR would have to pay and whether the railway could retain use of the lobby in the small building it currently occupies near the platform.
After several months of attempted negotiations between City Manager Robert Romero and Raymond, Czoski says, "it became obvious they weren't going to come to an agreement."
Czoski says SFRCC stepped in with an offer for Santa Fe Southern that included $600 in monthly rent and shared use of the lobby.
Today, Santa Fe Southern rejected that offer.
"We're very disappointed the offer, which we felt was reasonable," Czoski says.
But Raymond sees it differently. She says that rather than acting as a neutral mediator, SFRCC seemed to act mostly on the city's behalf. The city wants to use the building to house an extension of its convention and visitor center.
"When we were talking to the city about issues, instead of the Railyard [Community Corporation] being the neutral, non-political body it's supposed to be, we would oftentimes be double-teamed by the city and the Railyard [Community Corporation] together," Raymond says.
Both parties said this development means the end of Santa Fe Southern's presence in the Railyard, at least as an office. Read Raymond's letter below (but give it a moment to load...).