Thursday, September 03, 2015

Preliminary Sacramento Railyards Plans Released

If you have been reading the Sacramento Business Journal lately, it appears the grand urban vision of the Railyards that’s been hyped over the last decade has now been scaled back in many ways. Developer Mark Friedman has asked the city to reduce amount of housing from the target goal of 10,000. The drop in housing goals comes from the reality that high-rise residential towers in Sacramento don’t add up meaning there is no clear track record in Sacramento for high-rise condo success.
Current state of  proposed Railyards area

Later this month LDK Ventures will formally acquire the Railyards from IA Sacramento Holdings, L.L.C., a subsidiary of InvenTrust Properties Corp. While reading another Sacramento Business Journal article on the Railyards, LDK Ventures suggests that most mid-rise offices will have big footprints filling a corporate campus on the northwestern corner of the site. Larry Kelley from LDK Ventures is quoted saying “I think what you’d get is something similar to the lifestyle centers you see in the suburbs, but in an urban area,” he said. After reading this, apparently the new owners gonna turn much of the area into something you find in the suburbs, pretty disappointing considering we have been told for years the Railyards would become the “New Downtown”. 

The only highlight I could find was that Kaiser’s plan for a medical center for the northwestern corner has preliminary plans for a high-rise medical tower on the eastern portion of the 18 acre project. Because of how other projects have gone in downtown over the years, I’m sure this high-rise tower will be scaled down too. Kelly also said that before the existing roads to the site can be opened to the public, another $100 million of infrastructure and several tons of fill dirt need to be delivered to the site.
Proposed Sacramento Republic FC stadium

Larry Kelly did tease the idea that 5 acres along the Sacramento River could be used for high-rise residential development with river views. Although I would love to see this, I’m highly skeptical the final vision will turn out like this.
A little background, last January work was competed on $68 million worth of streets, bridges and sidewalks in Sacramento's downtown Railyards. State bond funds paid for $56 million of the project's cost, and private developers paid for the remaining $12 million. The infrastructure project, which broke ground in 2009, is meant to allow private development of the 240-acre former industrial site. The state court system has already chosen part of the downtown railyards for the site of a future courthouse near the Federal Courthouse on I Street. Currently the New Sacramento Criminal Courthouse has been reduced to $300 million from its original budget of $552 million five years ago. The size of the project has also been reduce from a 16-story mid-rise to now a 12-story building and from 44 courtrooms to 35. Somehow with all the reductions of cost, the square footage of 405,500 has remained the same. As stated above, UC Davis has expressed interest in building a satellite campus on the site and the owners of the Sacramento Republic FC have said they would like to build a soccer stadium if the city is awarded a Major League Soccer franchise.

Sacramento Railyards boundary with the Kaiser proposal on the left
and Republic FC stadium on the right

Central Pacific Railroad established the Sacramento Railyards during the steam locomotive era. The company, which later became Southern Pacific, built the first shop in 1868 — before Sacramento gained fame as the western start of the first transcontinental railroad with the driving of the last spike on May 10, 1869.

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