Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Vote on Plan

The continuing saga of the railyard's redevelopment continues with a planned vote today.

'Historic' railyard plan goes to council today
$55 million deal called a key step for huge project
By Mary Lynne Vellinga - Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:00 am PST Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Sacramento City Council is scheduled to vote today on whether to pay Georgia developer Stan Thomas $55 million to gain control of the historic train depot downtown and of nearby acreage needed for a planned expansion of the station.

If the city approves the proposal, Sacramento could take the title to the I Street depot by the end of the year. The sale is contingent on Thomas closing his purchase of the entire 240-acre downtown railyard from Union Pacific by Dec. 29.

Thomas has submitted plans to build a new community of 10,000 residences, shops and offices on the land, once the largest industrial site west of the Mississippi.

"This is historic," said Assistant City Manager Marty Hanneman said of the plan before the City Council. "This is the first step in opening up this 240-acre Superfund site to development. It's a new chapter in our history."

The city would pay Thomas $30 million in cash as a down payment for the depot and the 9 acres surrounding it, and give him a $25 million promissary note payable in 2009.

The money would come from Measure A, the countywide transportation sales tax approved by voters in 2004. Obtaining control over the depot and nearby land is the first step in the city's plan to move the freight and passenger tracks about 300 feet to the north and create a new regional transportation center alongside them. The city is slated to receive about $78 million for this effort from Measure A over the next five years, Hanneman said.

Besides buying the land, the city staff has recommended that the council approve up to $40 million more for the track relocation, with Thomas and the city splitting any costs over that amount.

The final price for the depot and the entire 32.81 acres the city is planning to acquire from Thomas would be determined by further negotiations.

Thomas has asked for $5.5 million an acre. City staff members say that is far too high, and plan to commission their own appraisal. Both sides have agreed to submit to binding arbitration if they can't reach an agreement.