The Amarillo City Commission voted Tuesday to buy the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown for $2.6 million, including renovations, despite some objections from residents over the cost, reported the Amarillo Globe-News.
The newspaper said:
Commissioners spoke of important factors considered in the purchase real estate — its relatively large size, proximity to the Civic Center that is on track for expansion, the possibility of using it as an Amtrak station and its historical value.
“I think an opportunity like this comes around every 100 years and this is 100 years,” said Commissioner Lilia Escajeda. “We’re not hanging our hats on Amtrak. We don’t know about that. It’s out of our hands.”
Commissioner Ellen Robertson Green agreed.
“I think purchasing the depot is imperative,” she said. “It’s important to have a historic structure like this in public hands.”
According to the report, Amarillo may get back Southwest Chief train service sometime next year for the first time since the 1970s if Amtrak can’t reach a deal with Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado for $100 million in rail repairs and $10 million a year in maintenance.
Commissioner Brian Eades told KFDA-TV a few things the city also was considering with the depot:
“Long term, we would ultimately like to turn our Civic Center into a Convention Center. We would really love to consider an expanded so Coliseum we can bring in bigger events that are now going to Lubbock. There is a lot of property there for that. But also, the building in it’s own right is a great jewel for a center for inter mobile transportation,” Eades told us.
Eades was keeping things close to the vest, but I suspect the city was looking at what is going on with other repurposed Harvey Houses in the Southwest — La Posada in particular — and thought it would be wise to have Amarillo’s preserved and redeveloped into a tourist destination.
According to the Harvey House site, the
Amarillo depot Harvey House opened in 1910 and closed about 1940. It isn’t on Route 66, but sits just a few blocks from it in downtown. And this is just the thing — if properly renovated — would gain keen interest from Route 66 travelers.
(Hat tip to Nick Gerlich; postcard image of Santa Fe Depot from 66Postcards.com)