Sacramento’s massive downtown railyard, hidden for decades behind train tracks and berms, is on track to have a public coming out party this fall.
The development group that took ownership of the 200-plus acre site a few months ago has been showing it to prospective future tenants, and plans a public unveiling late this year when roadblocks are removed and people will be allowed to drive, walk and bike on site. The goal is to open the site when the downtown arena opens in October, to allow arena-goers additional routes to and from downtown.
That includes new sections of Fifth and Sixth streets, which vault over the tracks on bridges onto the railyard, as well as Railyards Boulevard, which will connect to Jibboom Street, offering a new route to Richards Boulevard and Interstate 5 north of downtown. Railyards Boulevard is the main east-west street in the railyard. It currently stands empty with traffic signals blinking.
Alan Hersh, a project principal with the Downtown Railyard Venture LLC, said he and others in the new local ownership group have been showing the site to potential employers and other businesses, often from the top of the closed Fifth Street bridge. The company, headed by McClellan Park developer Larry Kelley, bought the railyard redevelopment site last fall from an Illinois-based investment company.
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Downtown Railyard Venture is expected to present the latest site plans to the city Planning Commission in late March. The development company this week invited residents to go its website and Facebook page to view updates of plans and to offer opinions and questions as part of a “virtual community conversation” about the site.
“It’s to introduce ourselves and to help define the vision for the railyards,” Hersh said. “This is such a significant part of the future of downtown, that we want to be in sync with the community. That’s going to take a dialogue.”
The site was used for more than a century by various railroad companies. UP closed its maintenance and repair operations in the 1990s. City officials have been working to get the property redeveloped ever since. The city owns about 33 acres at the southern end of the railyard, including the historic train station, which is undergoing a $30 million renovation.
The first construction on the portion of the site owned by Downtown Railyard Venture is expected to be a housing complex, likely to go up in 2017. The state also plans to build a new Sacramento Superior Court courthouse on a corner of the railyard in the next few years.
Developers say it will take decades before the railyard is fully built out. Hersh said his company envisions millions of square feet of offices, as well as 6,000 to 10,000 moderate to high-density housing units on site, including possible residential towers along the river. The site also will be home to a rail technology museum.
Kaiser Permanente recently announced plans to build a medical center at the northwest corner of the railyard, replacing the Morse Avenue hospital. The northeast corner of the railyard could serve as home to a 22,000-seat, $100 million-plus soccer stadium if the city’s minor-league club, Sacramento Republic FC, can gain admission to MLS.