Union Pacific Owns 160 Acres Around NUMMI Plant

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It used to be NUMMI. What next? (Credit: Jennifer Baires)

At the tail end of last year, Union Pacific Railroad bought the property in two parcels from New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. The price is as yet unknown.

"We plan to develop the property at an undetermined point in the future to provide service for our freight rail customers," Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt told the Oakland Tribune.

One parcel is directly north of the Tesla factory and the other is directly south. You'll recall the original property was 370 acres, with a 5.5 million-square-foot factory sitting on it that Toyota and GM used to make full use of. Now Toyota and Tesla use just a fraction of the facility.

Neither Tesla nor Toyota has commented yet, but it's a fair bet they'd welcome easy access to rail. You know, to ship out those cars they plan to build? A single freight rail track runs through the NUMMI property now, and there's space to build a second line.

But the feeling among Fremont officials is not warm. Mayor Bob Wasserman told the Tribune in a follow-up article published Saturday that the purchase is terrible. And not just because Fremont officials were apparently not consulted in advance. "Man, that really destroys a lot of plans or potential plans."

The northern parcel stretches across the street from the planned Warm Springs BART station and all the way to South Grimmer Boulevard, where the city had proposed a baseball stadium for the Oakland A's. (Although that idea was already dead.) Another proposal envisions some 2,500 homes near the BART station. What potential condo buyer wants a view of rail cars and container trucks, not to mention the noise, the smell and the pollution?

But former Fremont City Council candidate Kathy McDonald, who lives across Interstate 680 from the proposed rail facility told the Tribune she doesn't see the purchase as that big a deal.

"I knew that the railroads were here before I moved here."

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About Rachael Myrow

From KQED’s Bureau in San Jose, Rachael Myrow covers politics, economics, technology, food and culture in a vast region extending from Burlingame to Edenvale to Fremont. This follows more than seven years waking at 3 am to host the daily version of KQED's California Report, broadcast on NPR affiliates throughout the state during NPR's Morning Edition. She still guest hosts for The California Report and Forum, blogs for Bay Area Bites, and files for NPR and PRI’s The World. Before KQED, she worked for Marketplace and KPCC in Los Angeles. Follow @rachaelmyrow

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