Smart, urban development is transforming Truckee

{ SF Chronicle | April 15, 2018 }

One of California’s hottest development projects can be found in one of its coldest towns. In an era of neighbor-bites-neighbor fights against big developments, perhaps it’s fitting that an antidote should emerge from Donner Pass. Tiny Truckee — a snowy municipality of 16,300 — is doubling the size of its downtown. The Railyard Project — it’s a converted rail yard — shows that communities can overcome NIMBYism, environmental litigation, and other California obstacles in pursuit of transformational development. The project also shows just how difficult such transformations have become in a state once famous for dramatic change. Truckee’s ambition is startling. First, it’s starting with affordable housing — often the last type of housing to be added to a project, given the political and financial challenges. Second, it’s exactly the sort of dense, urban development that draws fierce opposition in the state’s biggest cities. While the project has gotten little notice outside the Sierra, that seems likely to change as construction continues. The project used innovative financing mechanisms, including dollars from the state’s cap-and-trade program. It is likely to employ factory-made housing as a way of reducing the sky-high costs of construction. And gubernatorial front-runner Gavin Newsom has praised Truckee… Read more »

Law Review: Railyard Project underway — hooray!

{ Sierra Sun | September 15, 2017 }

The question I get asked more than any other — more than “Porter aren’t you retired by now?” and even more than “How did you manage to have such a wonderful family?” — is: “So when is the Railyard Project going to get started?” GROUNDBREAKING Well, this just in — brace yourselves — after a dozen years in planning and permitting; after hundreds of public meetings and input from citizens; longtime second homeowners Rick and Nancy Holliday’s Railyard Project on the east side of downtown Truckee is financed, and believe it or not, just broke ground. You heard it here first. The much heralded and long-anticipated Railyard development has equipment on site; infrastructure improvements and rail track realignments have begun. Hip hip hooray! The missing piece fell into play when the Holliday’s new financial connection Tom Engberg, also a longtime Truckee second homeowner, fell in love with the Railyard and brought his company, the Loja Group, in to finance the creative downtown project. Who doesn’t love Truckee? KMART CONNECTION Without knowing it, Tom and one of his former partners Doug Wiele played a role in recent Truckee history. You’ve no doubt heard about the infamous Kmart project up by the… Read more »

On Track and at the Front of the Pack – Truckee Railyard Finally Moves Forward

{ Moonshine Ink | November 17, 2016 }

The Truckee Railyard project heralds a lot of firsts. It’s the first time the Town of Truckee has partnered this closely with a developer. Likely the first time a developer convinced Union Pacific to accept commercial development within a balloon track. The first time this site will diverge from a history of industrial uses. The first Truckee project for Holliday Development, which has been building mix-used communities in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. While exciting, being out in front of the pack means any headwind hits you straight-on. After spending 12 years and counting on the Truckee Railyard, owner and developer Rick Holliday acutely feels the pain of being a pioneer. In addition to the pocketful of firsts, the site offers up issues of environmental cleanup, significant infrastructure updates, airplane flight paths overhead, a railroad running through, and a heap of expectations from the Town. Truckee Development Associates, LLC (led by Holliday Development) is in charge of the Railyard Project. The parent company specializes in public-private partnerships and sustainable infill projects, and so is no stranger to complicated projects. Overall, the field of infill redevelopment is not for the “faint of heart,” Holliday says, but “[the Railyard]… Read more »

Truckee, California Wins the Curbed Cup Ski Town of the Year

{ Curbed Ski | February 17, 2016 }

Sixteen ski towns entered, but only one emerged victorious: Truckee, California is officially the 2015 Curbed Cup winner! The battle for the Curbed Cup Ski Town of the Year was fierce, but in the end Truckee beat out Sun Valley by a margin of 369 votes. Everyone had a lot to say about the final match up, with one commenter arguing, “Sun Valkey is amazing. As much as I’d like to keep this secret to myself, I think it needs to be shared.” There were plenty of Truckee fans too, one writing, “With Lake Tahoe being the most amazing backyard to it how could it not be number one?” There were over 3,700 votes cast in the final round alone, so the Curbed Cup definitely struck a nerve. In the end, Truckee took home the final prize. It’s a good year for it too, with monster El Niño snow dropping plenty of fresh pow for skiers to enjoy at nearby Northstar, SugarBowl, Donner Ski Ranch, and Squaw Valley. Cheers to Truckee and congrats on the win!

Truckee, California Earns National Honors for its Infill Growth

{ Curbed Ski | January 15, 2016 }

In addition to claiming the title of Curbed Cup Ski Town of the Year, Truckee also topped a nationwide ranking of communities using strategic steps to increase infill development. In the latest rankings from Infill Score, a website dedicated to logging and promoting communities’ infill development achievements, Truckee was the top performer nationwide, increasing its score from 25 to 85 from 2000 to 2015. That level of improvement was not only good enough for Truckee to rank as the top small community, but it also was the most improved of any town or city using Infill Score to benchmark its success. The credit for Truckee’s success largely falls to the community’s tenacity in following through on plans, some of which date back to the town’s1993 incorporation, to redevelop tracts of land that would otherwise only represent the scars of past industries. One of the great coups of Truckee is that its master plan focused on infill growth starting in the late 1990s. That laid the groundwork for the town to find incentives to revitalize its downtown instead of building out the surrounding areas. The sites of an old sawmill and railyard, in particular, were key areas for the town to… Read more »

Truckee Railyard Master Plan Amendment and Rail House Theater Project Submitted

{ | October 19, 2015 }

The Truckee Railyard Master Plan, which encompasses 75 acres directly east of Historic Downtown, was adopted by the Town Council in 2009. The 2009 Master Plan was created to formalize the Town’s vision for the Railyard Area and to guide its future redevelopment. The plan addresses building architecture and character, desired land uses, and private/public spaces including roads, sidewalks and parking among other aspects. Following the adoption of the 2009 Railyard Master Plan the developer continued to refine site and building layouts, permitting, project costs and terms with Union Pacific Railroad. However, it became clear during this time that relocation of the balloon track—a major existing site constraint—would not be feasible and was no longer the preferred option. As a result, a revised Master Plan is proposed to reflect the changed circumstances. The amended Railyard Master Plan was submitted to the Planning Division on October 5, 2015 and is current under review. A joint Town Council/Planning Commission study session will be scheduled in the near future to present revisions and changes and also to present the first building to the public and decision-makers: The Rail House Theater. Use the link below to access the proposed amended Railyard Master Plan, the adopted 2009 Railyard… Read more »

$8 million grant to kick-start multi-acre Truckee Railyard development

{ Sierra Sun | July 9, 2015 }

TRUCKEE, Calif. — With enough funding aboard, the much delayed Truckee Railyard project is on the verge of leaving the station. Last week, the California Strategic Growth Council awarded the project an $8 million grant, bringing its total secured funding to $14 million, said developer Rick Holliday. The Railyard development was one of 28 housing and transit-friendly infrastructure projects that received $121.9 million in grants and loans from the council. “This funding will kick-start infill development and smart growth adjacent to our historic downtown consistent with the vision that this community created 20 years ago as part of Truckee’s General Plan,” Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook said in an statement. Funds will be used to install infrastructure — sewer, utilities and roads — at the Railyard site located immediately east of the town’s Commercial Row, Holliday said. That work is estimated to cost $15 million to $20 million. The secured funds will be used to leverage the final remaining balance, said Holliday, founder and president of Holliday Development. Preparation of the site for construction is anticipated to start later this summer or early fall, he said. The following spring, infrastructure work would begin in anticipation for construction of the multi-phased… Read more »

Truckee Railyard project eyes summer 2015 groundbreaking

{ Tahoe Daily Tribune | January 22, 2015 }

TRUCKEE, Calif. — After being stalled for years due to a lawsuit and the economic downturn, the Truckee Railyard project is picking up steam. On Oct. 2, 2014, Truckee Development Associates submitted preliminary applications to the town of Truckee, said Denyelle Nishimori, planning manager for the town. The Phase I land use application outlines a roughly 30,000-square-foot, independently owned and operated eight-screen movie and performing arts theater, a brew pub restaurant, a retail building with an office above, mixed income housing, a 32,000-square-foot grocery store, and downtown workforce housing for property east of the town’s Commercial Row. “The Railyard is a great in-fill project for Truckee,” said Lynn Saunders, president and CEO of the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce. “It takes an unsightly parcel of land that is set in a highly desirable location right beside our historic downtown, and recreates it into an innovative mixed-use development that will only expand our assets.” Yet, project details continue to be modified, Nishimori said. “Although we have a preliminary application, we have not done much work on it because the concepts, plans, diagrams are continually changing,” Nishimori said. “… The preliminary applications are basically at a standstill.” Recent changes include location of… Read more »

Full Steam Ahead

{ Moonshine Ink | November 14, 2014 }

More than five years after the Truckee Railyard Master Plan was approved, and a number of obstacles later, the developer of the railyard project submitted a preliminary application to the town on Oct. 2. The conceptual plans include some notable changes, including keeping the balloon track, which would require a master plan amendment. The pre-application for Phase I development in the Downtown Extension District includes a 30,000 square foot movie and performing arts theater, a distillery or brew pub, a grocery store, artists housing, and workforce housing. Rick Holliday, developer of the project, said it will take three to six months to secure developers and funding for the project, but he hopes to break ground next summer. After town planners review the application and submit their feedback, Holliday will have to submit a formal application for approval. “This is a very important project,” Holliday said. “I think we are going to get going this year.” After California Gov. Jerry Brown dissolved all of the state’s redevelopment agencies in 2010, funding for initiatives like the railyard project dried up. Holliday needs $16 million for infrastructure alone. The project was awarded $4 million in grant funding from the state, so he’s looking… Read more »

Adaptive Reuse Keeps on Truckee

{ Real Estate BisNow | November 11, 2013 }

Oakland-based Holliday Development pioneered the urban, industrial-to-residential, mixed-use conversion in projects like The Clocktower in SoMa. Now, it’s embarking on a similar transformation in the Sierras, at the 35-acre Truckee Railyard. The project is an incredible canvas to expand on Truckee’s historic downtown and a rare model for smart, infill development in a mountain town, Holliday’s Kevin Brown told us yesterday. (And you thought Truckee was just a place to fill up on the way to Tahoe.) Nearly 900k SF of development is coming, including 600 residential units (both for-sale and apartments), office space, the first movie theater screens in downtown Truckee, a boutique hotel, grocery, and more. The company has constructed one small mixed-use building—a two-story townhome over a cupcake bakery—as an example of modern downtown living and to show folks what’s to come. The site is a former Union Pacific rail yard that Truckee officials have eyedfor years. (Now that there hasn’t been a gold rush in a 150 years.) Holliday bought the property from Union Pacific and then entered into a partnership with the town on a joint planning process to figure out downtown’s missing elements, capitalizing on the town’s potential as the gateway to Tahoe. Kevin says downtown Truckee contains very little housing stock. He expects the office space will appeal to a growing number of tech entrepreneurs who love… Read more »

10th Annual Mountain Home Awards – Mixed Use Award


Contemporary Meets Rustic in this Truckee Live-Work Space By Jackie Ginley The project taking this year’s Mixed-Use Award blends so well with Truckee’s historic downtown that one has to ask on seeing it the first time if it isn’t just one of the town’s old landmarks, renovated with a fresh face. From the street, it looks like a modest building sided with old barnwood and supported by exposed steel beams reminiscent of the town’s railroad days. Below is the Cake Tahoe bakery. Above is a small, sunny deck that hints of residential space. But climb the steep flight of stairs to the second story and you’re in for a surprise. The space opens to a two-story condo with contemporary design features artfully woven into the rustic finishes long associated with Old Tahoe style. The main flooring is fashioned from reclaimed oak so rich in character one would guess it might have been salvaged from the Victorian building that stood in this same spot 120 years before. Here, contemporary meets mountain to flawless effect in a design combining the sleek elegance of blue steel and Scandinavian-inspired cabinetry designs with the earthy feel of pickled barnwood. “Our innovative approach and modern design… Read more »

Economic Engine that Could

{ Comstock's Magazine | May 9, 2012 }

Truckee’s railyard redevelopment faces its toughest hill yet, but supporters think they can A town long known for its quaint historic authenticity, Truckee in the past five years has evolved from a sleepy hamlet to a city with the promise of vibrancy. But it’s a town mostly seen through car windows or during a quick stop as people make their way to the famous lake and ski resorts beyond its boundary. In marketing lingo, Truckee is the gateway to Tahoe’s North Shore. But plainly stated, it’s a base camp for its surroundings, and that’s the label the town is committed to with the redevelopment of its downtown railyard. When first approved in June 2009, the Truckee Railyard project was to be the largest downtown development since the town’s founding in 1868. Despite its magnitude, the project received a concerted 5-0 vote of approval from the Town Council and overwhelming public support, including that of every living Truckee mayor, the Truckee Donner Railroad Society and the Truckee River Watershed Council. Rarely does a project enjoy such broad public support, yet three years after approval, this one remains at a virtual standstill. There are “25 million” small problems in the way, and… Read more »

ULI Advisory Panel Helped Keep Tahoe Blue

{ Urban Land Institute Magazine | February 29, 2012 }

Lake Tahoe, the largest, highest-elevation alpine lake in North America, is one of the most treasured natural wonders in the United States. But its pristine natural beauty and abundant recreational opportunities have also put pressure on the area by bringing in growing numbers of vacationers and year-round residents. With its jewel-like fresh-water lake cradled by snow-peaked mountains even in the summer months, Lake Tahoe is one of the top international attractions in California. In the early 1980s, regional officials became increasingly concerned about the prospects for the area’s long-term sustainability—both environmental and economic—and brought in a ULI Advisory Services panel to provide guidance on several key fronts. The ensuing report and implementation of many of the panel’s recommendations have been seen as a case study for how to improve regional planning. Once a sleepy resort area, the Tahoe basin boomed after the 1960 Winter Olympics. The games introduced millions of viewers to the area’s natural beauty, and Olympics-related infrastructure upgrades, including major freeway access, facilitated the rapid increase in the number of permanent residents from 10,000 to more than 50,000 in two decades. The summer population has swelled from 10,000 before the Olympics to nearly ten times that amount today,… Read more »

Truckee Railyard Lawsuit: Suprerior Court Judge Rules in Favor of Town, Developer

{ Sierra Sun | May 28, 2010 }

TRUCKEE, Calif. — A Nevada County Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of the town of Truckee and Holliday Development regarding the planned residential and commercial development at the Truckee Railyard. In a Wednesday order, Judge C. Anders Holmer denied a petition from the Friends of Truckee, a group who sued last year to stop the Railyard development, a project approved by town council a year ago that is planned for the eastern end of downtown Truckee. “I’m ecstatic,” said project owner Rick Holliday in a Friday interview. “I do feel we had won in the court of public opinion five to zero in the planning commission, five to zero in the town council, and felt the public’s voice was loud on this.” Town Manager Tony Lashbrook agreed. “It’s nice to have this hurtle behind us. A lot of time and effort was spent in the community process addressing these issues, and I guess the court confirmed we handled it appropriately,” Lashbrook said. He said the town has been working on the Railyard site since 1995. Next up, Lashbrook said the town and project owners Holliday Development will likely meet to discuss options moving forward. Donald Mooney, representing the… Read more »

Letter to the Editor: Community’s Railyard Plan Approved

{ Sierra Sun | August 13, 2009 }

The approved Railyard master plan is the community’s plan that was shaped with input from hundreds of participants through an extensive public process. The plan was developed over a multi-year process that engaged the community, neighbors, stakeholders and dozens of design professionals and experts. The plan and process was awarded grant funding to be a model sustainable infill project for the State and most recently and American Planning Association Award for Comprehensive Planning. Creating a redevelopment plan for the Railyard was a complex process that involved more than three years of study, analysis and design. The road alignment as proposed is a key element in creating one downtown that is connected together as a whole and that will evolve over time toward the east. After working on this plan for many years, I believe this is the best plan for the downtown that implements the vision set forth in the Downtown Specific Plan. During past workshops, four planning concepts were supported and confirmed: 1) Create a pedestrian friendly and walkable extension to the existing downtown; 2) The visual and physical link between the existing downtown and the railyard is critical to the success of creating and supporting mainstreet; 3) The project… Read more »

Letter to the Editor: You decide on the Truckee Railyard

{ Sierra Sun | August 11, 2009 }

The Aug. 5 edition of the Sierra Sun included a full-page advertisement sponsored by the Friends of Truckee showing an Alternate Circulation Plan for the Railyard Project. As one of the consultants that worked on the Railyard Master Plan for the last five years, I feel it is important that readers understand all of the criteria that went into the development of the street and circulation plan approved by the Town Council. The design team of Planners, Landscape Architects, Building Architects, Civil Engineers and Traffic Engineers were tasked with seven primary goals: • provide Glenshire Residents with a route to downtown through the railyard to eliminate the need to make a left turn from Glenshire Drive on to Donner Pass Road; • ensure truck deliveries to the lumber yard were not impeded by intersection geometry and the private properties at the intersection of Donner Pass Road and Church Street were not affected; • create a block-structure similar to the existing downtown; • develop street standards (width, geometry, parking and bike lanes) that provide traffic calming and slower speeds but allow the use of full-size snow removal equipment and access for the largest vehicles including fire trucks. • reserve right-of-way widths… Read more »

All Aboard! – Almost

{ Moonshine Ink | July 16, 2009 }

Editors Note: Author Beth Ingalls served on the Town Council from 2002 to 2006 when the railyard project was discussed and was recently included in a list of former mayors supporting the project. The Truckee Town Council unanimously approved the Truckee Railyard Master Plan and certified its accompanying environmental impact report (EIR) on June 17. The decision paves the way for a mixed-use development which, when complete, will include a combination of housing, retail and office space, a boutique hotel, movie theater, civic center, parks and open space. With an overflow crowd at Town Hall, and almost universal support from those who spoke during the public comment portion of the evening, project developer Rick Holliday said the meeting was “an amazing personal experience.’ For Holliday, who in a recent phone interview reflected on his five year journey with the Railyard project as the primary owner, there have been a total of 107 Railyard meetings leading up to the June approval. While he’s extremely gratified by the outpouring of support and the 4-0 endorsement from the council, he’s frustrated with the threats of litigation from the “Friends of Truckee,’ a local group whose stated mission is “to protect the downtown core… Read more »

Truckee Railyard Gets a Redevelopment Boost

{ Sacramento Bee | January 25, 2009 }

TRUCKEE – Development of this city’s historic, long-vacant railyard has received a giant boost with the Town Council’s recent approval of a master plan and environmental impact report. Mostly abandoned since a lumber mill closed in the 1980s, the 75-acre property just east of Commercial Row could double the size of downtown once developed. “It will probably take longer because the economy’s in such turmoil, but it’s a great plan, and I anticipate it will be built out,” said Rick Holliday, the railyard’s main land owner. He projects construction on the first building, a hotel, could take up to two years to begin, while full build-out could be in “eight years on the fastest track and 15 on the longest.” Holliday, who owns Holliday Development in Emeryville, has worked with town staff during the last half of the decade the plan has been under way. It has garnered widespread, though not universal, public support – unusual for Truckee developments – with its emphasis on in-fill rather than sprawl. The plan includes a mix of retail, residential and office buildings on approximately two-thirds of the property, with pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle access. Although traffic, noise, water, air and other issues have… Read more »

Creating Truckee’s New Downtown

{ Tahoe Quarterly | June 1, 2006 }

Rick Holliday never planned on becoming a key player in Truckee’s future, but that’s where fate has led him. With his wife Nancy, Holliday is owner and soon-to-be developer of 37 acres adjacent to downtown Truckee: the Rail Yard. His plans for this industrial property amount to a doubling of Truckee’s historic downtown. Holliday, 52, is uniquely qualified for the task. His company, Holliday Development, specializes in redevelopment projects. He has turned old warehouses in San Francisco and Emeryville into desirable apartments, redeveloped the old Oakland rail yard into a neighborhood and converted Hamilton Airforce Base into a community. Prior to becoming a developer, Holliday worked as a town manager, community development director and for the Federal housing Agency and helped start two nonprofits specializing in affordable housing solutions. He recently received an award from the California League of Conservation Voters, one of only three developers to receive such recognition. He has a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley. How did you get involved in the Tahoe area and with the Truckee Rail Yard? The first time I came up here was in December of 1968 on a ski bus. The woman I… Read more »

Developer of Truckee’s railyard honored by environmental group

{ Sierra Sun | March 29, 2006 }

The same principles that Rick Holliday is using to plan Truckee’s railyard have garnered the Emeryville-based developer a prestigious award from one of the state’s largest conservation groups. Holliday, who is planning a mixed-use development on the 21-acre railyard adjoining downtown Truckee, was one of three individuals honored by the California League of Conservation Voters Saturday for a career that has focused on affordable housing, pedestrian-oriented projects and smart growth. “I am particularly honored that they would pick me for the award because they have typically been hard on developers,” said Holliday, in a telephone interview on Monday. The League of Conservation Voters, a political action committee that has more than 20,000 members in the state, picked Holliday for the award because of high density development that prevents sprawl and residents’ dependence on automobiles. “It’s about sustainable communities,” said Jason Gohlke, spokesman for the league, about the award ceremony’s theme, “Vibrant Cities: Urban Solutions for a Healthy California.” “It’s about places where people can live and work without contributing to urban sprawl,” Gohlke said. After founding two of California’s leading affordable housing developers, Eden Housing and BRIDGE Housing, Holliday formed the for-profit company Holliday Development. Along the way Holliday broke… Read more »

On the Right Track

{ Sierra Sun | March 23, 2005 }

Looking beyond scrap heaps, stacks of dusty pallets and lengths of rusting rail scattered around the downtown Truckee railyard, Rick Holliday sees a blank canvas. Under a cold, battleship-gray sky last week, Holliday swept his outstretched arm in arc in front of him, and in broad strokes painted a picture for the 21 acres of history-filled, but now desolate, land he owns in the heart of Truckee. In the eyes of the developer who has transformed a number of long-neglected Bay Area landmarks into upscale housing, the railroad detritus, contamination and flooding problems of the railyard site are dwarfed by the huge upside of the property — a large tract of flat land next to a historic downtown. “The thing that catches any developer’s eye is the size,” Holliday said. Picturing a pedestrian-oriented town center on the deserted railroad property abutting downtown Truckee takes imagination. But imagination is exactly what has gotten Truckee’s railyard to the point it is now. A little over a year after Holliday Development bought the property from Union Pacific Railroad, planners are saying the project could become one of the most innovative in the Sierra Nevada. WHAT DOES THE DOWNTOWN SPECIFIC PLAN CALL FOR? The… Read more »

Bay Area Developer Buys Truckee’s Historic Railyard

{ Sacramento Bee | January 21, 2004 }

TRUCKEE — An Emeryville development firm has purchased Union Pacific Railroad’s Truckee railyard, a 30-acre site east of this historic mountain town’s commercial row shopping area. The firm, Holliday Development, specializes in creative residential and mixed-use developments throughout Northern California and will work with the town in planning commercial/housing development on the site, Truckee Mayor Josh Susman said. The purchase is “a giant step toward realizing our vision of expanding our downtown …,” Susman said in a news release. “This now-vacant site is critical in achieving the town’s planning philosophy of infill development.” The railyard, which is encircled by “balloon” tracks where trains turn around, has been vacant since a lumber mill on the site closed in the 1980s and its buildings were removed. Trains will continue using the tracks for now, Tony Lashbrook, the town’s community development director, said in an interview. “I’m thrilled,” Lashbrook said of the purchase. “This is a huge deal.” Lashbrook said the mill site is fundamental to achieving the goals of the town’s general plan and downtown specific plan. The latter plan, completed seven years ago, calls for development on the site of 100 multiplefamily residential units, 125,000 square feet of commercial buildings, 30,000… Read more »