Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Moving Along

Railyard land deal gets tentative OK
By Tony Bizjak - Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Sacramento City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a deal that will allow the city to purchase the Amtrak train depot and 33 acres of surrounding land in the downtown railyard.

The council is expected to give final approval next week on detailed financial terms and conditions of the site acquisition.

City officials have been negotiating the deal with Thomas Enterprises, the private company that expects to redevelop the now largely unused 240-acre downtown railyard into an urban village of residences, offices and stores.

Mayor Heather Fargo lauded the agreement as a huge step forward in allowing the city to expand the depot into a larger intermodal transit center capable of handling several million rail and bus passengers a year.

Councilman Kevin McCarty cast the sole no vote. McCarty said he is uncomfortable spending what may be up to $55 million in public money on the deal before the city has done a real estate appraisal.

"We could end up on the short end of the deal," he said.

City negotiators say they intend to commission an appraisal. The city and Thomas Enterprises have agreed that if they can't negotiate a set price for the purchase, the two sides will submit the issue to binding arbitration.