Truckee development: Railyard work to start small – and perhaps soon |

Truckee development: Railyard work to start small – and perhaps soon

TRUCKEE, Calif. – Plans for the 75-acre Railyard development could start small – and soon, too.

Ultimately the project planned for the eastern end of downtown could bring residential units, commercial space, a movie theater and even move Donner Pass Road and the railroad’s balloon track. But Holliday Development is starting small, proposing to knock down the old garage next to the Carmel Gallery and replace it with a two-story building – commercial below and residential above.

“This will start moving the Railyard east from the existing downtown,” said Rick Holliday, owner of the project.

Holliday said that while the garage is at the back of a historic Victorian home on Church Street, it itself is not historic.

The Historic Preservation Advisory Commission, which reviewed the proposal on Wednesday, decided in a split vote the garage is a Category D “nonessential” historic structure, and were generally supportive of Holliday’s proposed new use for the site, said Jaime LaChance, assistant planner with the town.

Two dissenting votes argued the garage’s character has historic relevance, signifying the change in Truckee into the automobile era, she said.

The advisory commission’s recommendations will next go to town council for a final decision, LaChance said, likely later in August.

Holliday said if he can get approval from the town, he’d like to start construction this year.

Neither Holliday nor Town Manager Tony Lashbrook has heard about an appeal from the Friends of Truckee, who sued to stop the project and lost in a ruling by Judge C. Anders Holmer in May.

The attorney for the group could not be reached for this story.

The first big step, working east into the former lumber yard, would be a three- or four-screen movie theater with about 40 residential units above, sited where a hotel was originally planned, Holliday said.

“Our first phase would be the hotel block wrapped around the rock, replacing that with a movie theater instead,” Holliday said.

Holliday said with Hotel Avery moving along across the river, it makes more sense to start with the theater instead of another hotel.

“Avery is approved and farther ahead, so it’s smarter to let the Avery go after financing, and we get the theater, which will make downtown healthier faster,” Holliday said.

He anticipated planning and possible approval taking about nine months to a year, meaning – as long as the economy cooperates – construction could start on the theater next year, and open in two.

Lashbrook said approval would require design review and work on infrastructure issues (Donner Pass Road would be realigned from a “swoosh” to a T with the first phase), though the exact public process hasn’t yet been determined.

Lashbrook agreed that holding off on a hotel makes sense with Hotel Avery in the works.

“I’m also excited at the opportunity to get a theater in the first space because it would be a local draw, and a draw to bring people in from outside the area,” Lashbrook said. “It would round out the uses in downtown in a positive way.”

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