Livermore Historic Depot Project
Relocation and Rehabilitation of Livermore’s Historic Depot
The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) is excited to have the historic Southern Pacific Railroad Depot (Depot) relocating to the downtown Livermore Transit Center (Transit Center) during 2017. The Depot will once again be aligned next to the rail tracks where it served the community for many decades as a point of gathering for movement of people and freight.
The project involves the relocation of the Depot from its present location at 20-22 South L Street to the Transit Center at 2500 Railroad Avenue. The relocation project includes removal of non-historic additions to the Depot and the rotation of the Depot 180 degrees to facilitate passenger interaction with the ticketing office, and rehabilitation to appropriately reconstruct previously lost or destroyed exterior features.
At right is an artist rendering of what the Depot will look like at the Transit Center. The relocation and rehabilitation project will preserve a treasure for future generations, as well as add energy to the downtown area.
History of Livermore Depot
In 1892, the Depot was constructed to replace an earlier depot that was destroyed by fire. In 1941, Southern Pacific terminated passenger rail service and by the early 1970’s the Southern Pacific abandoned the rail line and moved its freight service to the then Western Pacific (now Union Pacific) tracks to the north. As a result, in 1971 Southern Pacific closed the Depot and proposed demolition in 1973. Local citizens objected to the Depot’s demolition leading to formation of the Livermore Heritage Guild. Later in 1973, Southern Pacific donated the Depot to the City of Livermore after which numerous structural changes were made to the Depot. From 1974 to 1976, the City of Livermore removed the Southern Pacific rail line.
Livermore Depot as a Historical Building
The Livermore Downtown Specific Plan Historic Resource Inventory designates the Depot as a historic resource. In 2009, Garavaglia Architecture, Inc. undertook a formal evaluation of the Depot’s eligibility for listing on the National and California Registers. The findings recommended the Depot be listed on the California Register of Historic Resources for its association with the development of the Livermore Valley and for its representation of a Southern Pacific standard depot design.
Furthermore, the findings recommended that although the relocation of the Depot to the proposed site at the downtown Livermore Transit Center on Railroad Ave would impact its integrity, it would not impact its integrity to a degree that should endanger its eligibility for listing on the California Register of Historic Resources. Additionally, the report states the proposed relocation will help to reconnect the building with its rail-related past, with potential to return this important local resource to its historical uses and to again provide a context for its continued enjoyment and interpretation.
Relocation and Rehabilitation Plan
Garavaglia assigned the Depot a period of significance from 1892 to 1942. As stated in the report, “This period corresponds to the date of construction through the date that the Southern Pacific Railroad discontinued passenger service at the Depot. “ All proposed rehabilitation plans comply with this period of significance.
The Depot will be relocated to the Transit Center ticket island and replace the existing transit center structures exclusive of the long covered platform extending to the east, most of which will remain. The Depot’s historic alignment with the railroad tracks will be re-established by placing it parallel with the tracks. In honor of its historic function, LAVTA will use the Depot as a transit ticket office, which provides tickets for both the Wheels bus system and ACE rail services.
The Depot will be rotated 180 degrees from its current alignment. As a result, the two-story portion of the building will be located at the eastern end of the ticket island adjacent to the bus bays. The raised elevation single story portion of the building will be located at the western end of the ticket island. The realignment will provide at-grade ticketing functions in the same general location as the existing ticket office without the need for the customers to climb an accessible ramp or staircase. Additionally, this realignment provides better sightlines of the historic building when arriving on ACE, bus or by car.
The Depot retains the majority of its exterior character-defining features from within the period of significance. The
recommended rehabilitation plan anticipates the retention of all
original, sound siding and exterior decorative materials. Specifically, the overall architectural expression, wooden siding, older wooden windows, first-floor eave, multi-lite glazed doors, ticket window, wood accent trim and decorative woodwork at the Depot will not be altered or removed. Existing damage caused by sandblasting will be repaired to improve the appearance and long-term viability of these materials. No substitution of sound material is anticipated.
Some of the major exterior rehabilitation elements include the following:
• Removal of non-historic additions on the freight side (current East wing) of the Depot.
• All paint colors will match the Southern Pacific Standard Plan Number 18 paint colors
• Two non-functioning stovepipe chimneys with a sheet metal finish will be added. One to replace an existing chimney and second to reconstruct historic chimney on the current western roofline.
• Roofcrest added to match historic
• Rehabilitation/restoration of extant and reconstruction of missing sliding freight doors.
• Reconstruction of portions of roof and north and east walls after removal of non-historic elements.
• Reconstruction of historic windows that were previously removed.
• Removal of non-historic exterior staircase to second floor
• Removal of second floor door to be replaced with a reconstructed replacement of an original window.
Additional modifications on the ticket island will include expansion of the island, new landscaping, interlocking pedestrian pavers, historic-type light fixtures, bicycle racks, signage, elimination of western shade structure, removal of approximately 20 feet of the western end of the eastern shade structure, relocation of existing bicycle lockers.
Transit Center site modifications will include extension of LAVTA’s bus turnaround pad, new parking lot landscaping, striping to designate the accessible passenger drop off area, crosswalk restriping, relocation of accessible parking spaces, improved drainage and lighting.
The proposed interior Depot design includes 1,300 SF for LAVTA operations, which is over 500 SF larger than the existing Transit Center building. The Depot will include 800 SF of secure space for the ticket office, storage closet, technology closet, utility closet, janitor closet, staff restroom, driver restroom and 500 SF of publically accessible space for an internal waiting area and ticket counter, public restroom, drinking fountain, and room for a future coffee kiosk, vending machine, and a possible LAVTA/ACE ticket machine. The interior public waiting area/museum will accommodate historic reminiscent benches and display historic rail-related memorabilia.
In addition to the LAVTA designated space, the City will manage lease spaces on the first and second floor. The lease spaces will be designed to accommodate many uses, including but not limited to public meeting space, office space, and retail services.
New landscaping within the ticket island will include trees, shrubs, and groundcover. The California Live Oaks will be planted around the southwest portion of the ticket island and Erigeron Karvinskianus groundcover (Spanish Daisy) will surround each Oak tree. Herperaloe Parviflora (commonly known as Red Yucca) shrubs will bookmark the rehabilitated freight door on the Depot’s future south elevation.
Approvals of the Depot’s Relocation and Rehabilitation
On September 7, 2006, staff requested the Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) provide direction regarding the relocation of the Depot. The HPC provided preliminary policy direction that the Depot may potentially be relocated if treated appropriately within specific parameters. These parameters included preparing appropriate historical reports with consultation by experts in the field of historic resources preservation, rehabilitating the structure to retain and restore original design features, and with the preference to relocate the Depot to the downtown Livermore Transit Center (Transit Center).
On September 16, 2006, the Planning Commission reviewed this matter and recommended the City Council approve the relocation of the Depot, subject to the preliminary policy direction received from the HPC.
On October 30, 2006, the City Council approved the relocation of the Depot, subject to the requirements of the Downtown Specific Plan, in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, consistent with the preliminary guidance of the HPC, and identified the Transit Center as the preferred location.
Based on the City Council’s approval of the Depot relocation to the Transit Center in 2006, staff developed several alternatives for the Depot’s relocation. In August 2007, the HPC and Planning Commission indicated a preference for placing the Depot parallel with the rail line at the Transit Center site.
Due to various circumstances, the project was then delayed for multiple years. One significant issue was due to the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency that eliminated the potential use of redevelopment funds on the project. Subsequently, the City secured a $2.5 million grant from the Metropolitan Transportation commission to relocate and rehabilitate the depot.
On October 2, 2014, the HPC adopted a resolution supporting the relocation and rehabilitation of the Depot to the Transit Center parking lot. However, HPC members expressed interest in removing LAVTA’s existing ticket office and replacing it with the Depot for use as the transit ticket office in honor of its historic ticketing function.
Over the next year, City and LAVTA staff worked through many logistical factors to approver the relocation and rehabilitation project and enable the use of the Depot as the LAVTA ticket office. November 24, 2015, the City Council and LAVTA’s Board of Director’s executed a Right of Entry, Lease and Sale of Land and Terms Agreement, which demonstrates a City property interest at the Transit Center, a requirement of grant funds. Then, on May 31, 2016, the Livermore Planning Commission formal adopted a resolution that authorized the project.