Sunday, January 28, 2007

Big Development

It often doesn’t matter if the developer on a major development is hometown or not, what usually matters is the company big enough to handle the common setbacks that occur in big developments; though often the love of the area is crucial in seeing a development through, in spite of those often occurring setbacks.

Just now we have two, one local developer’s towers project seemingly going south, shuttered up with piles driven into the ground like the aftermath of the twin towers bombing; and a huge mess in the hands of an Atlanta developer obviously possessing the wherewithal to complete it.

We’ll watch and see.

Railyard developer makes the big play
Former fullback Thomas runs projects in 8 states.
By Mary Lynne Vellinga - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, January 28, 2007

Stanley E. Thomas, the Atlanta developer who proposes to double the size of Sacramento's downtown, tends to make a big impression on people.

"When he walks into a room, there's some presence. You know he's there," said Sacramento's assistant city manager, John Dangberg.

The former University of South Carolina fullback makes big plans, too. He's juggling projects in eight states, including the development of a 26-square-mile ranch in Florida and an 800-acre mixed-use shopping, hotel and housing project on a former rock quarry in San Antonio.

Thomas, 52, sells embryos from the prized breeding cattle on his ranches and gives thousands of dollars to Republican candidates, including President Bush.

In December, Thomas did what many doubted he could pull off: He bought Union Pacific's 240-acre, abandoned downtown railyard where he plans to develop 10,000 housing units, and shops, offices and hotels.

It took nearly five years to complete the complicated purchase of the Superfund clean-up site from UP, a company known for focusing on trains, not real estate sales.

"It's because of his vision and his determination that we got to the finish line with Union Pacific," said Suheil Totah, the Sacramento lawyer hired by Thomas to run the railyard project. "If it weren't for Stan Thomas, this property would still be owned by the railroad."

Aside from a handful of high-level city staff members and elected leaders, few people in Sacramento have met the developer. He remains an unknown quantity, even though his firm is the official shepherd of one of the largest urban redevelopment sites in the nation and a major focus of the city's civic hopes for the future.

So far, Thomas has not talked to The Bee despite numerous attempts to contact him.