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?”
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?
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 cemetery — unanimously approved by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors despite ardent protests from dozens of Truckee residents. (Kmart was successfully challenged by Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, which cemented MAPS place in local history.)
Most importantly, approval of the unpopular Kmart by Nevada County was a tipping point and strong catalyst for Truckee’s incorporation, overwhelmingly accomplished in 1993.
Well Tom and Doug were the Kmart developers. Fortunately, they have seen the errors of their ways and have returned to back the Railyard — a project supported by the community and all of Truckee’s former mayors at the time.
“A BLACK HOLE”
I myself was a longtime cynic, considering the abandoned railyard site to be undevelopable, referring to it in an infamous letter to the Truckee Town Council as “a black hole” that will only be developed by someone wearing “rose colored glasses.”
Well, despite petroleum contamination from a prior lumber mill and rail center (former home of the historic Roundhouse), proximity to impacted Trout Creek, site of a contaminated card-lock station, an immovable balloon track for turning around snow removal trains, intersecting overhead power lines and more — along came the Hollidays, celebrated developers of “difficult” urban projects, wearing rose colored glasses. Patient, passionate people they are.
CHANGES ARE COMING
Watch for changes on the Railyard, including the relocation of the so-called “Swoosh,” just east of downtown’s Junction Dysfunction heading up to Interstate 80. The road realignment will slow traffic driving through Truckee to facilitate pedestrian flow between the Railyard and historic downtown. The road reconfiguration, which includes a connection to Glenshire Drive and roundabouts, will take some getting use to. Think positively.
The Railyard Project will bring the community a much-desired theater, a Nugget market, hopefully a boutique hotel, limited, unique new commercial, affordable “artist loft” apartments, and a variety of residences integrated with historic downtown, confirming downtown Truckee as the place to be.
Forgive my unabashed enthusiasm, but our office has been involved with the Hollidays and the Railyard since day one. The town’s longtime number one planning priority is about to take shape.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. His practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOA’s, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at porter [at] portersimon [dot] com or http://www.portersimon.com.