Transit hub, arena would fit in Sacramento railyard, report says

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 - 7:29 am

A report by the Urban Land Institute has found that both a new sports arena and the city of Sacramento's planned transit hub could fit snugly in the downtown railyard.

When designs for the proposed arena were unveiled in May, transit advocates and some city officials quickly noticed that the plans called for the facility to be placed directly on the site of the planned $300 million transit hub.

That drew some criticism, given the city's long-standing plan to one day construct a hub for high-speed rail, light rail and buses on the site. But the ULI report says the two facilities not only could fit in the railyard – they could work well together.

"Our first commitment has been to the intermodal (transit hub); it's a project we have obtained a lot of financing for," said Councilman Rob Fong, a member of a task force exploring the financing of a new arena. "We wanted to see if we could co-locate that (with an arena), and it looks like we can."

The ULI findings confirm the work of city staffers who have been reviewing the arena plan since downtown developer David Taylor and arena builder ICON Venue Group presented their concept for a $387 million sports and entertainment complex.

Some issues will need to be addressed in order to squeeze both the transit hub and arena into the railyard.

The ULI report recommended creating a "transit village" and moving the transit station slightly to the east, requiring the acquisition of land currently held by Inland Real Estate, which owns the 240- acre railyard. City officials are confident that Measure A transit funding could be used for the purchase of that land.

As a result of moving the transit hub, the city "can create the opportunity for a well-designed, functional public space between the entertainment and sports complex and the intermodal," the ULI report stated.

Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said that public space could create a "lively environment" and better pedestrian access to the area.

Dangberg said city officials are also working on a design for the transit facility that would avoid a large, boxy building. Instead, designers want a facility that creates clean "view corridors" from downtown to the historic shops planned for the railyard, Dangberg said.

"There is a sense that we should have something less massive and more linear," Fong said.

The ULI report also agreed with arena planners and city officials that there is enough parking close to the arena that large new parking structures are not needed.

City officials said there are 8,200 parking spaces in lots near the proposed arena that would be empty during arena events. By avoiding building a large parking structure adjacent to the arena, officials aim to encourage event-goers to walk to the facility and patronize nearby businesses.

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