TV network moving to Tucumcari

Oct. 8—The Fast TV Network announced during a news conference Wednesday it will move from Albuquerque into the vacant Kmart building in Tucumcari that will be home to a television and movie production facility, a New Mexico Route 66 museum and welcome center.

In all, the $8 million project eventually will create between 30 and 70 jobs after its soft opening on July 1, 2023, said Mike Lee, Fast TV's president and CEO, during the briefing inside the Tucumcari Railroad Depot. Lee said his company is under contract to close on the purchase of the property at that time. He projected the facility would generate $300 million in revenue over 10 years.

Lee said if the facility draws movie productions as expected, it will create another 30 to 250 jobs, depending on the film's budget.

The crowd of about 30 people, many of them city or county officials or business owners, applauded the news.

"This is a monumental day for Tucumcari," said Connie Loveland, the city's MainStreet director.

Lee said part of the 42,000-square-foot building will be used for two sound stages, film- and video-editing bays and audio studios.

Fast TV Network produces original shows about racing, road trips and Route 66 for online and streaming platforms. Its "Tucumcari Rising" program, one of several shot in the city, has attained 31 million views, Lee said.

Johnnie Meier, owner of Classical Gas in Embudo, also announced he would move the contents of his museum containing gas station and neon-sign memorabilia inside the Kmart building, along with an operational Valentine diner.

In a follow-up question, Meier said he would like to see a merger of the current collection of the New Mexico Route 66 Museum inside one wing of the Tucumcari Convention Center, but he indicated negotiations are ongoing. City officials long have wanted the Route 66 museum there moved because it prevents more rentals of the convention center.

Melissa Beasley-Lee, president of the New Mexico Route 66 Association, also said the nonprofit organization plans to move there, as well. She is the wife of Mike Lee, who mentioned the association would take up 10,000 square feet of the building.

The Kmart store in Tucumcari closed in April 2018 amid a long, inexorable shutdown of the retail chain. As of this year, three Kmarts remained in the United States. At its peak in the mid-1990s, Kmart operated almost 2,500 stores.