Train station is at center of Stockton, CA, renewal

New Urban News, December 2010

The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, which operates commuter trains between Stockton and San Jose, California, is helping to rehabilitate an old neighborhood at the commuter line’s eastern terminus — the Robert J. Cabral Station in Stockton. In late August the Commission celebrated completion of a new 75-foot clock tower adjoining the historic station on the eastern edge of downtown.

The clock tower, along with improvements such as new pedestrian walkways, a public plaza, and better lighting, is part of the first phase of the neighborhood’s revitalization, says Stefan Pellegrini, principal inOpticos Design in Berkeley. Opticos designed the clock tower, which screens mechanical equipment that had previously sat exposed, detracting from appearance of the station renovated in 2003. The tower’s upper portion was steel-fabricated off-site by Arrow Sign Company of Oakland and then hoisted onto the brick base.

Opticos produced a master plan to reanimate the area, described by the Stockton Record as “a rundown segment of downtown’s fringe.” The Rail Commission has purchased several dilapidated Victorian homes in the vicinity and is looking to renovate them for professional office uses, Pellegrini points out.

The City of Stockton is pursuing the redesign of a streetscape and a series of zoning changes to help “make the neighborhood more appealing for new residential and mixed-use development,” Pellegrini says. Whether the zoning will be a form-based code is not yet clear.