Between the photo ops, enthusiastic residents and speeches by city officials, there was a palpable sentiment that, more than just another road, this was really a link between the capital city’s past and it’s promising future.
But if you’re a Sacramentan, you’ll probably get very familiar with grand openings and civic ceremonies, as new landmarks will be unveiled at the Sacramento Railyards frequently over the coming years and decades, transforming the region.
“To get to this point…is a real big milestone for the city,” said Councilmember Jeff Harris. “This project essentially doubles the size of our city center. It’s the biggest infill project right now in the US. This is a big deal.”
A big deal, indeed, since advocates, developers, and city officials have been working tirelessly to make the Railyards project a reality for parts of three decades or more.
In order to keep you abreast of all the exciting happenings with the project, we’ve compiled this Sacramento Railyards fact sheet:
The Railyards is a 244-acre site located just north of downtown and south of the River District in Sacramento. Transforming the historic former site of the Union Pacific railroad hub, it looks to develop a state of the art mixed-use urban center, complete with a signature mass transit hub. With plenty of housing, hotels, retail spaces, office space, and entertainment venues like theaters, parks, and museums, the Railyards will be an economic boon for the city and a must-see destination for Californians and tourists alike.
History of the Railyards
At its inception in the 1860s, Sacramento’s rail yards were the central hub of the entire western United States, connecting the country and aiding commerce created by western expansion and the Gold Rush.
The first railroad in the Sacramento Valley was completed in 1856, and The First Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869 after several other railroads like the Central Pacific merged.
As early as 1883, Sacramento’s terminal was the primary point of departure and arrival for thousands of travelers, workers, and innumerable goods.
In fact, in the early 20th century, the Sacramento railroad network was the largest west of the Mississippi River and employed an astounding one-third of all Sacramento workers!
Plans for the Sacramento Railyards include:
6,000-10,000 housing units
405,741 square feet of retail space
2,757,027 - 3,857,027 square feet of office space
771,405 square feet of flexible mixed use
1,228,000 square feet of medical campus
1,100 hotel rooms
485,390 square feet of historic and cultural uses like museums
33 acres of open space for parks and recreation
A soccer stadium with 19,621 seats, and potential to expand to approximately 25,000 seats.
Once completed, the Railyards is expected to provide housing for an estimated 20,000 people, a community more populous than Land Park and Curtis Park combined.
The keystone of this redevelopment is the refurbishing of the former “Central Shops” buildings that originally served as the Southern Pacific Depot and maintenance facilities.
An expansive public market place will be at that site, as well as a railroad museum and performing arts center.
It’s estimated that new Railyards site will create 19,000 permanent jobs once it’s opened, as well as employ thousands of contractors and construction workers.
Developer Millennia Associates tried to buy 70 acres in the southern portion of the rail yard in 2003, with hopes of eventually purchasing and developing the entire property. The project stalled until Thomas Enterprises, Millennia’s financial partner, finalized the rail yard purchase in late 2006.
The first version of the Sacramento Railyards redevelopment that was officially on the books was registered as P05-097 and approved by the City Council on December 11 2007. It was a scaled-down version of the monumental project we now are familiar with, encompassing “only” 12,100 housing units, 1.4 million square feet of retail space, 1,100 hotel rooms, 2.4 million square feet of office space, 485,390 square feet of historic and cultural space, and 491,000 square feet of mixed use.
That 2007 proposal was updated in June of 2015, when a new proposal was submitted with a much larger scope, including a change of the land use plan that would incorporate two new additions: a soccer stadium and a Kaiser Medical complex with its 14-story hospital
The Railyards redevelopment has been portioned into five phases. The first phase, Infrastructure Building, is already underway.
Since the Railyards site contains soil and groundwater contaminants that are harmful for humans, environmental remediation has been underway since the 1980s in compliance with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Railyards land is owned by IA Sacramento Holdings, L.L.C., under the umbrella of InvenTrust Properties Corp. The project was master-planned by the Jerde Partnership firm. A local development team includes Larry Kelly, who was responsible for turning the MCClellan Air Force Base into a thriving industrial park.
Of course there are many city and municipal agencies and departments involved, but if you have any questions about the Sacramento Railyards or want more information you can contact Associate Planner Teresa Haenggi:
With the Golden 1 Center opened the fall of 2016, the Sacramento downtown revitalization is in full swing, and that includes the Sacramento Railyards project.
As well as continuing to develop the infrastructure at the Railyards and connect more streets, the city will look to finish construction on nearby F and G Streets, finish new retail and housing projects on the 7000 block of K Street, and break ground on a new county courthouse building.
Now that our downtown is linked to the Railyards by the new boulevard, the first hosing units are expected to be completed sometime in 2018.
The new 20,000-seat soccer stadium could be built as soon as 2018 or 2019 in hopes of attracting a MLS pro soccer team.
The Kaiser Permanente major medical campus is expected to take six to nine years to open.
The proposed Superior Court building at the Railyards does not yet have a firm timeframe for construction.
In the short term, the city of Sacramento is expecting to finish their rehabilitation of the train station that sits at the entry of the railyard some time this winter. The $34 million revitalization of the block-long former station will mark the start of the process to attract retail and office tenants, as well as establish a new Amtrak station.
“We are seeing a lot of momentum,” said Sacramento city official John Dangberg who oversaw the downtown arena. “But it still takes time for markets like Sacramento to mature.”
While we’d love to see that maturity come to fruition in the Railyards sooner than later, patience will be a virtue as the project marches on towards its epic finale, that will surely reenergize Sacramento.