Coming to a rail yard near you

Courtesy Of California State Railroad Museum

The old Union Pacific rail yard will become home to a mixed-use village and an intermodal transit facilityUnion Pacific finally has sold the toxic, dilapidated and still eerily beautiful site of the original western terminus of the 1869 Transcontinental Railroad to Thomas Enterprises.

During Mayor Heather Fargo’s 2007 state of downtown address, she said, “The purchase of the former UP Downtown railroad yard by Thomas Enterprises and the acquisition of the depot and surrounding land by the city was a truly historic moment and dream come true.”

But now that the long-awaited deal’s gone down, the real work begins.

Thomas Enterprises bought the 238-acre rail yards with help from the city of Sacramento. The historic depot and surrounding parking lots passed into the hands of the city, which is planning to develop a new intermodal transit facility to connect light rail, trains and busses. Eventually, the city plans to control a total of nearly 32 acres.

Thomas Enterprises plans to develop a mixed-use village that will reuse historic buildings and offer housing, shopping, office, entertainment and lots of usable outdoor space—after extensive environmental clean up. The development, when completed, will knit together the downtown and Richards Boulevard areas. The plans include:

• 10,000 mixed-use high-density housing units. Some will be available for sale and some for rent.

• A public marketplace in one of the historic buildings that will feature California foods and wines; Thomas Enterprises envisions something like the revitalized Ferry Building in San Francisco

• Lots and lots of restaurants and retail

• A new Railroad Technology Museum that will inhabit two more historic buildings

• Pedestrian and bike access to the developed waterfront

Plans for a new sports arena, with supporting shops and restaurants, are still up in the air. The plan calls for an entertainment district with or without an arena.