Truckee studies building types for railyard | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Truckee studies building types for railyard

David Bunker

TRUCKEE – A railyard development here has moved a little farther down the tracks with the approval of a state-funded study that lays out the building blocks of the project.

The Truckee Town Council approved the “building types study” of the railyard, which was purchased by Emeryville-based Holliday Development in January 2004.

The development is being planned by the town and Holliday as a mixed-use project that will extend Truckee’s downtown to the east.

The study looks at affordable housing and how to mix housing and commercial space in the former railroad property. The report highlights 20 housing types, analyzing each option’s construction costs, required lot size and suitability.

The authors of the study, Colorado-based Wolff Lyon Architects, examined ways to load residential units on a site that is appropriate for a much denser development than other parts of town, according to planners. The report concludes that the railyard could hold 329 housing units and create 236 jobs.

Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook said the planning for the railyard is still in its preliminary phases. The housing options in the study will have to be tinkered with and mixed with other uses before a final master plan appropriate for Truckee’s downtown is formulated, he said.

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“There’s this balance between scale and the number of housing units, and I think that will be one of the interesting aspects in the [railyard’s] master plan,” Lashbrook said.

The study looks at lofts, row houses, cottages and duplexes; all of which will make economical use of the 21-acre parcel that Holliday Development is planning as an extension of downtown.

For Councilman Josh Susman, the area provides a blank slate – an opportunity to build a neighborhood from scratch without the normal complaints of too much density or incompatibility with nearby uses.

In the case of the railyard, a dense development is appropriate, he said.

Looking at the study’s housing types that can pack 40 units or more on an acre, Lashbrook agreed that the railyard will be unlike recent projects in town.

“That’s a lot higher density than we’ve traditionally seen in Truckee,” Lashbrook said.

Right now Holliday Development is waiting on two large issues before they can move ahead with building the final plan for the railyard.

“The challenge is the creek and the balloon track relocation, and we are trying to make all that work,” Dinsmore said.

The “balloon track” is a circular length of railroad that allows rail-clearing snowplows to turn around. Holliday Development said negotiations with Union Pacific to move the track to the east – allowing for a continuous development abutting Truckee’s downtown – are progressing well, Dinsmore said.

Meanwhile planners are working on ways to incorporate a re-routing and rehabilitation of Trout Creek into the project.

A third issue – soil contamination – is being analyzed, said Dinsmore. The 4.7 acres of land closest to Truckee’s downtown tested positive for only minor contamination, he said. The development team still has to test the area in the center of the “balloon track,” he said.