Saturday, August 6, 2016

An Evening with Fred Harvey

When circumstances forced Rob and Susie Easterling to relinquish their tickets, Bonnie and I were able to partake of "An Evening with Fred Harvey" in Las Vegas, NM on Friday, 5 pm on 5 August 2016.  It began with a self-guided tour of the once fabulous Castaneda Hotel with each room highlighted by Harvey Girls in full costume.  
Bonnie and the dapper Fred Harvey (or a replica thereof, since Fred passed from this world in 1901)

A Harvey Girl outlines the kitchen techniques 
The bakery of the Castaneda would provide fresh baked goods (delivered by train, of course - sometimes in refrigerated cars).  The kitchen of the Castaneda would receive the orders for lunch by telegram by passengers on the train, and have them ready to serve by the time the train reached the station.

Once we completed the tour of the Castaneda, we headed over to the other end of Allan Affeldt's bookends in Las Vegas:  the Plaza Hotel where we enjoyed artichoke heart dip and duck quesadillas while we listened to a presentation by Dr. Nick Gerlich of West Texas A&M University, based on the book "Appetite for America" by Stephen Fried.  

Prof.Gerlich taught us two new words:  hiraeth (Welsh:  yearning to go back to a place or time you once experienced; similar to nostalgia); and anemoia (yearning to go back to a place that you never actually experienced).  

Why can't the restoration of the Castaneda proceed?  Turns out that all the finance pieces, including the elusive tax credits, must be in place before work can commence.  Here's a recent response from the Executive Director of the New Mexico Tax Credit Authority:

Thank you for letter regarding the Castaneda Hotel.  We fully understand your excitement for the project and have great regard for Mr. Affeldt and his experience with historic hotels.

The New Mexico Finance Authority operates a company called Finance New Mexico, which is one of many federal New Markets Tax Credit providers in the nation.  Our program utilizes established criteria to rank applications seeking financing.  To date, the applications filed on behalf of the Castaneda/Plaza Hotels have not reached the required points necessary to move on.  Given the way our program operates and the way in which Mr. Affeldt is developing these projects, it’s possible that there may not be a fit.  However, it’s possible that the project can move forward with another NMTC provider.  The New Mexico Finance Authority expects to open another round of applications in September and all projects located in qualified, rural communities are encouraged to apply.

Thank you again for your letter.