The Sacramento Railyards (or Railyard Specific Plan) is an urban infill brownfield project of approximately 240 acres (97 ha) at the western terminus of the First Transcontinental Railroad in the Richards Boulevard neighborhood of the city of Sacramento, California. The property is owned by IA Sacramento Holdings, L.L.C., a subsidiary of Inland American Real Estate Trust, Inc. The Sacramento Railyards was master-planned by the Jerde Partnership firm. Construction will take 15 to 20 years with a projected build-out to last until the late 2020s.
The site is equivalent in size to the existing downtown central business district and holds significant historical and cultural importance to Sacramento. The project features the preservation and partial reuse of the "Central Shops" buildings originally used for railroad maintenance and the Southern Pacific Depot. One of the Central Shops will be refitted into a public marketplace. A railroad museum and a performing arts center is also planned.
Overall, the project is expected to include 12,000 housing units, 2,400,000 square feet (220,000 m2) of office uses, 1,900,000 square feet (180,000 m2) of retail, hotel, and other commercial uses, 29 acres (12 ha) of parks and open space and create 19,000 permanent jobs.
The first railroad in Sacramento as well as California was the Sacramento Valley Railroad finished in 1856 and engineered by Theodore Judah. Judah's efforts to realize a transcontinental railroad was transferred to the power of "The Big Four" investors, who created the Central Pacific Railroad. The First Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, when Central Pacific's line joined Union Pacific's at Promontory Summit. Sacramento's terminus was the primary departure station for the railroad until 1883.
Central Pacific merged with Southern Pacific in 1870, and the former's maintenance yards were expanded with the addition of the Southern Pacific shops. The shops were used for locomotive repairs, general maintenance and, occasionally, creation. The yards steadily expanded, becoming the biggest railroad facility west of the Mississippi River and employing approximately one-third of all Sacramento workers in the early decades of the 20th century.
Railroad usage in the United States gradually declined over the century, and by the at beginning the 21st century, railyard upkeep had become less economically viable and laid largely dormant. In 2003, developer Millennia Associates vied to purchase the southern 70 acres (28 ha) of the railyards, hoping to eventually obtain the entire railyard from Union Pacific. Millennia’s financial partner, Thomas Enterprises, eventually finalized the railyard purchase on 2006-12-29.
Environmental remediation on the site has occurred since the 1980s. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the Environmental Protection Agency have identified numerous soil and groundwater contaminants on and near the development area. The nearby Jibboom Junkyard was listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) and identified as containing metal contaminants in the soil. After remediation and NPL deletion in 1991, a 2007 review of the site assessed that while the contaminants still persist, their levels remain protective of human health concerns. Similar metal contaminants are found in the Sims Metal Recycling property in the project area. A 2007 Memorandum of understanding gives DTSC oversight over remediation procedures and ensures the site is remediated to target levels.
The redevelopment phasing has been allotted into five phases; the first phase, infrastructure building, is currently under construction.
- " PDF (19.6 KB)", Redevelopment Agency of the City of Sacramento (January 2008). Retrieved on 2008-08-10.
- The Railyards: Facts. Thomas Enterprises, Inc. (2007). Retrieved on 2008-08-10.
- "UP Railyard Plant Development Plan Expected", Jerde Partnership (2003-01-17). Retrieved on 2008-08-14.
- "Thomas Enterprises buys downtown railyard", Sacramento Business Journal (2006-12-29). Retrieved on 2008-08-14.
- Superfund Site Progress Profile - Jibboom Junkyard. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved on 2008-09-30.
- " PDF (1.76 MB)", United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2007-09-28. Retrieved on 2008-09-30.