With my professional training in city planning, I have to admit that I get giddy over cool smart growth projects. I recently ran across one such project, a super cool one, and one of the key organizations behind it. The project is the redevelopment of  Sacramento’s downtown railyard, which apparently employed 10,000 employees at the height of its use and was the largest single workforce in Central Valley for 8 decades. One of the key organizations behind it is the Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR).

The video above gives you a pretty clear summary of the Sacramento Railyard project, so I’ll just highlight a few key points:

  • As Mayor Johnson — yes, that’s the former basketball star Kevin Johnson… (of the Pheonix Suns, not the Sacramento Kings) — points out, this project has the ability to stimulate a ton of development and double the size of Sacramento’s downtown.
  • It’s a brownfield redevelopment project. “Brownfield sites are abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities available for re-use. Expansion or redevelopment of such a facility may be complicated by real or perceived environmental contaminations,” as Wikipedia summarizes. Brownfields are often left dead in the middle of highly valuable urban areas because of the bureaucracy involved in the redevelopment of such sites, even if the actual cleaning up of such a site is not such a difficulty. They can be like a cancer to the life and vitality of urban areas. Redevelopment of brownfields is an important and green way to stimulate growth and improve quality of life of urban areas.
  • This project is where the Sacramento station for high-speed rail (HSR) will be, encouraging use of clean, rail transport and improving the likelihood that HSR in this area will succeed.
  • The project will be home to thousands of people, shops, and offices, and will include useful open space as well.

This is a great project I wasn’t aware of before now — will be keeping an eye on it. Feel free to chime in with any additional information or commentary on the project if you are familiar with it.

CCLR, as its name pretty clearly indicates, is all about this sort of project, redeveloping underused land rather than building over farmland or nature to house new residents and businesses. I think I’ll highlight some more of its projects in the months to come.

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