Another Downtown Drama?

Well, it looks like the railyards project is entering into that rather bizarre territory that has plagued K street for so long; one idea after another with none really working—the jury is still out on the latest K Street mermaid venture.

I really love this town, but we live in the suburbs and rarely venture downtown where all the drama seems to be occurring, so we’re not impacted much; but for those folks who are trying to make a business work or who live there, it must be frustrating.

An excerpt from the Sacramento Bee article.

“Sacramento’s two-decade quest to turn its empty downtown railyard into a bustling community has seemed a slog at times, marked by false starts, failed schemes and foreclosures.

“This week, though, the project got a double shot of momentum, suggesting the city’s dreams are not as unlikely as appearances sometimes suggest.

“The city put out for bid Wednesday a long-stalled project to move the rail tracks that separate the railyard from downtown, a key step to opening the site for development.

“And, on Friday, city leaders pronounced themselves energized after a national urban planning group offered ideas on how to make the site an attractive regional destination – and how to start sooner by starting smaller.

“The panel’s most dramatic idea: Ditch plans for a block-long, multi-story bus and train concourse between downtown and the center of the railyard.

“It may be more of a divider than a connector,” said Danny Pleasant, transportation chief for the city of Charlotte, N.C. “We’re afraid you’re going to lose that visual connection” to the railyard.

“Instead, panelists advised turning the area behind the existing I Street depot into a transit village, where commuters would walk short distances from bus to light rail to train stations in an urban setting, possibly centered on a green open space.

“The panel, sponsored by the Urban Land Institute, made its recommendations after touring the railyard and interviewing local officials, developers and real estate experts.

“Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said he was relieved by the transit idea. The city’s current concept for a $300 million transit center had been the product of numerous political compromises over the past decade, but its size is “disconcerting,” Johnson said.

“He said future Sacramentans might view it as a mistake, similar to how people now perceive Interstate 5 as cutting off downtown from the Sacramento River.

“Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said the transit neighborhood and the group’s other ideas would help break down railyard development into more easily financed, bite-sized chunks, incrementally knitting the site and downtown together.

“I love it,” Dangberg said. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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