Tesuque Pueblo makes plans for old casino

December 6, 2018

An indoor flea market is among options Tesuque Pueblo is considering for the old casino it closed last month before opening the new Tesuque Casino just north of Santa Fe.

The new 72,000-square-foot casino, located off U.S. 84/285 adjacent to the Santa Fe Opera, was built on land previously used for an outdoor flea market.

John Kubiak, chairman of the Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corp., confirmed Wednesday that an indoor flea market is among potential uses for the old Camel Rock Casino, located farther north on U.S. 84/285. But Kubiak emphasized that it’s one of several options on the table.

“We are exploring all kinds of different alternatives at this point in time,” he said.

“But they are all so premature I’d hate to have something in the newspaper that sounded like things were firm,” he added. “Nothing is firm at this point in time, but I can tell you we’re very firm on wanting to bring family entertainment to that property.”

After Tesuque Pueblo’s flea market closed, another one popped up on neighboring Pojoaque Pueblo.

“We lease the land,” Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. Joseph Talachy said. “We don’t run the operation.”

Talachy said he didn’t know how another flea market would affect the business on Pojoaque Pueblo, but he said he wished Tesuque Pueblo success in everything the tribe does.

“We promote economic development for all tribes,” said Talachy, who recently was re-elected to another two-year term. “We support our sister pueblo Tesuque and hope that they do well, whatever they do.”

Kubiak said he hopes to “have some plans firmed up within the next maybe two to three months.”

“We’re not intending at this point in time to convert it into industrial use or a hospital or a clinic — no government stuff,” he said. “We’re really looking at primarily a theme of family entertainment and maybe cultural stuff, too, like maybe a museum showing the history of the pueblo as being part of that entertainment venue.”

Kubiak said an engineering study found that the old 50,000-square-foot casino building is still in good shape.

“It’s a sound building, so there’s no plans to raze the building,” he said. “She may be old, but she’s got a lot of life left in her.”

The new casino, Kubiak said, is off to a good start. He said the pueblo had a “very, very successful” opening the day after Thanksgiving.

“We’re absolutely pleased with the amount of customers that came to us on that day and since, so we’re very pleased with everything that’s happening at that casino,” he said. “They’re going better than we planned.”

The casino’s proximity to the open-air opera theater raised concerns about noise and light pollution.

Daniel Zillmann, an opera spokesman, said recently the opera and the pueblo enjoy a mutually respectful relationship. The key players have maintained regular communication over the last two years and met regularly, he said.

The pueblo has shown consideration for the opera’s concerns in the design of its parking lot lighting and landscaping and also has been mindful during construction of the opera company’s daily outdoor rehearsals, which occur during the opera season adjacent to their shared property line on the opera’s lower campus, he said.

“The Santa Fe Opera is an engine of economic vitality for Northern New Mexico, a major employer in the state, and a cultural gem for the entire country as the nation’s leading summer opera festival,” Zillmann said in an email. “We trust that the Pueblo will continue to be considerate of our concerns as an outdoor performance venue that relies on the unamplified human voice. The attraction of the opera-going experience at The Santa Fe Opera, after all, is founded on the perfect marriage of art and nature.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

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