What Happens to the Historic Buildings in The Railyards?

Image of the rooftops of the Railyards' historic buildings. Learn what is planned for these beautiful brick buildings.

What Happens to the Historic Buildings in The Railyards?

February 22, 2019 | By The Railyards

Eight brick buildings stand tall in The Railyards in Sacramento, visible to all who pass by on Interstate 5. These brick buildings played a role in one of the biggest historical achievements of our nation, the construction, and operation of the Transcontinental Railroad.

As new projects move forward in The Railyards infill development project, concerned voices have asked time and again:

What will happen to the buildings in The Railyards?

Discover the Historic Central Shops

The eight buildings you see today standing in The Railyards are all that remains of the historic Central Shops.

Established in the 1860s, the Central Shops were considered the largest industrial complex west of the Rocky Mountains for almost a century. As late as WWII, the Sacramento Central Shops were by far the largest single employer in the region.

The shops were once the epicenter of innovation, invention, and railroad-related technologies in the region.

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Communities Need To Preserve Historic Places. Here’s Why.

Communities Need To Preserve Historic Places. Here’s Why.

Discover the benefits of historic preservation in a community, from celebrating heritage to attracting new investments.


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Protecting and Preserving the Central Shops

The Central Shops are an important cultural treasure. A City of Sacramento historic district has been designated pursuant to Title 17 of the City Code to ensure the preservation of the historic resources in the Central Shops area.

This historic designation is important.

The City of Sacramento has adopted the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties as its standards for review of preservation development projects involving historic Landmark properties and properties located within Historic Districts.

Any work done on the Central Shops buildings must adhere to Historic Rehabilitation Standards that include:

  • Preserving and retaining the historic character of a property.
  • Preserving distinctive materials, features, finishes, materials, and construction techniques.
  • Repairing rather than replacing historic features.
  • Minimal change to distinctive materials, features, and spaces.

A historic Sacramento treasure, the Central Shops are protected by a listing on the Sacramento Historic Register that will guide restoration and renovation efforts.

The Railyards’ Central Shop District

The redevelopment of the 244-acre Railyards area is one of the nation’s largest infill development projects.

The plan area sits at the confluence of the Sacramento and American River areas, where the initial settlement of Sacramento was founded in 1849.

With a unique opportunity to not only transform this unused, former-industrial site into a thriving mixed-use neighborhood, The Railyards will also knit together Old Sacramento, Downtown Sacramento, Chinatown, the Richards Boulevard industrial complex, and the Historic Alkali Flat neighborhood while reconnecting Sacramento with the rivers.

The Sacramento Railyards project consists of five planned districts, the core of which is the Central Shops District.

The most important thematic element of the development, the Central Shops are providing the City with an opportunity to celebrate its rail history.

Consisting of the existing eight historic railyard buildings from the original Central Pacific Railroad Yard, the Central Shops district also includes a turntable structure and a water tower. These structures are intended to be preserved, rehabilitated, and adaptively-reused as a vibrant destination center. The shops may be home to a vibrant mix of uses, including a planned expansion of the California State Railroad Museum.

Rendering of The Railyards

The Railyards development team has turned to BCV Architects for the historic preservation and adaptive reuse of the Central Shops district. BCV Architects is responsible for transforming San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace from an under-used and archaic transportation hub into a thriving, world-renowned public marketplace.

Like the Ferry Building, the Central Shops will maintain their historical significance, design, materials, and features. And, like the Ferry Building, the Central Shops will experience a new life as a gathering place where the community can come to shop, dine, and celebrate its cultural heritage.

As more and more projects continue to spring up in the Sacramento Railyards, the brick buildings that have endured for nearly a century and a half will continue to stand strong. Symbols of the City’s vibrant and storied past, the Central Shops have a new, bright future ahead.

Photo courtesy of Juliet Haas.

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