ULI’s Rose Center Helping to Keep Sacramento’s Railyard Redevelopment Chugging Along

Sacramento Valley Station

Sacramento Valley Station

Two California cities have started acting upon recommendations made in October 2012 by Urban Land Institute experts for redeveloping a 17-acre section of one of the nation’s largest urban infill sites.

The cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento jointly applied for federal funding to replace the I Street Bridge over the Sacramento River based on the advice of ULI’s Rose Center for Public Leadership.

The experts visited Sacramento from Oct. 10 to 12 to tour the Sacramento Railyards, interview stakeholders, and present their findings, marking the third time that the Rose Center has arranged for a panel to advise local officials about redeveloping the 240-acre infill site. The partnership between ULI and the city began in October 2010, when Mayor Kevin Johnson was invited to participate in the center’s Daniel Rose Fellowship program. The city was seeking to explore options for Railyards because the city’s original private development partner had gone bankrupt, and the one-year fellowship yielded recommendations for building a vibrant mixed-use, mixed-income community anchored by a regional transportation hub served by light rail, bus and Amtrak.

Although its time in the Rose Fellowship ended in October 2011, the city asked ULI this summer for guidance 
on enhancing access to the Depot District in the southwest portion of the Railyards. Negotiations with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings to finance an entertainment and sports complex had fallen through, and city leaders wanted advice on potential transportation infrastructure projects that could enhance access to the transportation hub and make the area more attractive for private investment. The Rose Center was more than willing to return to assist Sacramento, especially because the city had taken action on many of its previous recommendations.

Besides recommending the replacement of the I Street Bridge, the panel of urban planning, development and transportation experts suggested that the city and its partners investigate the removal of I Street’s northbound entrance ramp to Interstate 5. It also identified relatively low-cost, short-term actions to improve access to the Depot District’s intermodal transportation hub and to attract transit-supportive development. The panel stressed the need to immediately improve the pedestrian access around the new Sacramento Valley Station in the hub and to communicate more effectively with the public about the Railyards’ history, infrastructure projects on the site, and the vision for the Railyards’ future.

Created in 2008 with a $5 million endowment by Daniel Rose, chair of New York City–based Rose Associates, Inc., the Rose Center’s mission is to encourage and support excellence in land use decision making by providing public officials with access to information, best practices, peer networks and other resources. The flagship program of the Rose Center—the yearlong Daniel Rose Fellowship—focuses on leadership, integrated problem solving, public-private collaboration, and peer-to-peer learning for city leaders. Each fall the Rose Center invites the mayors of four large U.S. central cities to select a team of fellows from their city who will work with the center on a local land use challenge under their mayor’s leadership. Austin, Charlotte, Detroit, Hartford, Houston, Kansas City, Louisville, Minneapolis, Nashville, Oakland, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Providence, Tacoma and Tampa have also participated in the program.

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