As a big supporter of Amarillo’s effort to revive its downtown district, I am intrigued by the city’s consideration of purchasing the Santa Fe Depot across the street from the Civic Center.
The City Commission will consider this purchase at its next meeting, on Tuesday. The city might plunk down $2.6 million for the deal.
Then what? That’s the big question.
I was most intrigued by the quotes attributed to City Commissioner Lilia Escajeda, who seems to be suggesting something different from her colleagues. Commissioner Ellen Green noted the building’s historical significance and said that Amtrak might want to use the depot to bring passenger train service back to Amarillo.
Escajeda, though, said the depot’s purchase would make it easier for the city expand its Civic Center in the future. Is she suggesting the city could, um, knock down the depot — since it might own the property — to make room for a Civic Center expansion? I hope that’s not what she’s saying.
My own sense is that the city purchasing the depot has the potential for contributing to a successful downtown revival. My hope would be for the city to pull out all the stops to find a suitable — and successful — tenant who could put the building to the kind of use that would attract visitors to the downtown district.
Who or what would that entail? Well, I’m not a commercial real estate marketing genius, so I’ll leave that discussion to the experts. What’s more, the city has no shortage of resources to find someone who knows something about marketing buildings such as the Santa Fe Depot.
The building is beautiful and has at least as much potential as the “other” Santa Fe Building downtown, the one that Potter County transformed from a rotting hulk into a glorious office structure.
Go for it, City Hall.