California High-Speed Rail Authority reports.
Appraising and acquiring the 3,800 acres necessary to complete the full rail line could be an
appraiser’s dream job — or greatest challenge.
The project that almost wasn’t
For Steve Parent, MAI, SRA, director at Bender
Rosenthal Inc. in Sacramento, the high-speed
rail line has been a career- and perspective-alter-ing project. “It has forced virtually everybody
involved to stretch and to appreciate multiple
perspectives,” Parent says. Bender Rosenthal
was the first valuation firm hired for the high-speed rail initiative back in 2011.
In order to manage this vast appraisal and
acquisition project, the CHSRA hired multiple
firms, like Bender Rosenthal, as prime contractors on the project and to act as consultants to
deliver an assessment of the project’s magnitude
using industry norms for cost analysis.
The valuation process began in 2012 and
now is focused on the project’s first 120 miles,
running from Madera to just north of Bakers-
field (see page 21 for a map of the entire pro-
posed rail line). At least 1,000 of the 1,600-
plus properties necessary to complete the first
phase have been acquired. “That’s about
63 percent of what we need to complete this
first stretch,” says Alan Glen, director of real
property at the CHSRA.
Most of the appraised and acquired real estate
was (or is) privately held, and runs the gamut
from residential to agricultural to commercial
to industrial to government land. You name it,
and the property type is represented.
The CHSRA began making purchase offers
for right-of-way as early as April 2013. It
wouldn’t be surprising if the total number
of acquired properties was in the tens of
At the height of its work on this first phase,
Bender Rosenthal had 70 staff and contractors
performing valuation duties and completed
appraisals of about 500 properties. And the
appraisals are ongoing.
“The CHSRA continues to identify additional impacts as the design evolves,” Parent
says. “We touch the occasional new parcel, but
the vast majority of what we’re doing now is
providing support to the CHSRA for the properties that have been identified over the past
“Because of the
size of this project,
we learned how to
scale our services
in a completely
— Steve Parent, MAI, SRA
By the time the high-speed
rail line reaches Sacramento,
the number of acquired
right-of-way properties could
be in the tens of thousands.