Owner of Sac railyards site reaches agreement with developer

SACRAMENTO, CA - After years of development talks and changeover in ownership, the dormant 244-acre railyards site in the heart of the city is on the verge of being sold.

"The Sacramento railyards is probably one of the most prominant urban infill sites in the country, one of the most desirable," said Jared Ficker, spokesperson for Inland American Real Estate Trust, the investment company that owns the railyard site.

"It's time for someone who has a vision for Sacramento and wants to import that experience as a developer to do that," Ficker added.

Ficker said Inland American Real Estate Trust is in final talks to sell the property to a group led by Larry Kelley, who built the Stanford Ranch community in Rocklin in the 1990s and redeveloped the former McClellan Air Force Base into a business park in the 2000s.

"We had probably 30, 40 or 50 different developers who had ideas on how to redevelop either portions or all of it," Ficker explained.

He said they chose Kelley's group, Downtown Railyard Venture, LLC because of their local connection and experience.

The railyards site expected to be transformed into a mixed-use site for retail and office space, as well as a housing community. There are also plans to restore the old train station and enhance transit and railyard connections.

"The railyards is the largest infill development site in the entire country, so it's a tremendous opportunity," Sacramento Councilmember Steve Cohn said. "[Downtown Railyard Ventures] have the experience, they have the local connections. I think it's a great fit."

A great fit at a great time. With the new Sacramento Kings downtown arena set to be complete in late 2015, Cohn said plans to transform the railyard site will bring billions of dollars in economic development to the state's capitol.

"It's an exciting time for the central city," said Michael Ault, Executive Director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. "Once you get the railyards underway, you begin to tie in not only synergy, but something that makes this downtown core a regional destination."

But before DVR can move forward to purchase and develop the site, the Union Pacific railroad needs to complete its environmental remediation responsibilities. Clean up is expected to cost about $118 million, some of which has already begun.

"Most of the toxic materials, contamination have been cleaned up, but there still is a ways to go," Cohn said.

While work on infrastructure and roadways has already begun, it may be years before groundbreaking gets underwayon the site. Ficker said the sale to DVR may not officially go through for some time.

"This is an extremely complex transaction, I would say it's something we want to see a lot of progress in the next few months, but it's not a one week thing," Ficker explained.


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