Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What does the future hold for Downtown Sacramento?

I have been telling people from all over, "You will not recognize Sacramento by the end of decade" That gives Sacramento 4 more years to make me right.

Since the beginning of my blog, I have said high density mixed use (retail and residential) development is going to be the key in bringing Sacramento's urban core to the next level.

Up until this year, there has been little success is getting housing built for people who want that urban lifestyle. By my accounts over the last two years, since Winter 2003, there have been only 239 units completed through out downtown and midtown. All of them rentals, and 133 of them just recently.

In my last post, I said this next year is going to be a big year for Sacramento. Here is part of the reason I think so.

We are going to see almost 700 housing units hit the market by the end of next year. That more than double what we saw the pervious two years. That's 1000 more potential people walking the streets creating a safe environment, 1000 more people to patronize restaurants, shopping at new retail establishments, and creating a better general economy in downtown and midtown.

Here is the other reason I think next year is going to be a big year. At my company we use the hockey stick analogy for our workloads. You start off increasing at a very slow pace, then all of a sudden BOOM! The same is often said about urban development. You start off painfully slow and once you hit that certain point, it's all upward from there.

Over 3400 units across 20 projects in varies planning stages. I expect 8 or so to breakground next year. The most likely in my mind range in all sizes: The Towers, Aura, Library Lofts, East End Gateway I, II and III, L Street Lofts, Capitol Lofts, 21st and T, The Lofts on R Street, Cooper Union, and St Anton (going on a limb for this one).

I think we are going to see the K Street projects get pushed back until 2007, as well as The Metropolitan, Epic, Capitol Grand Tower and 701L Street. That not really a bad thing since it will spread the projects out over a couple more years and help them be successful.

Best case, that would be 2000 units under construction by the end of next year (40% in 301CM). The biggest difference between these and the ones under construction or completed is that almost all of them would be ownership housing. We must have a good mix of ownership housing for people. The next step is to bring some projects along that are affordable ownership housing opportunities for middle income families.

I really could care less if I see another high-rise office tower go up in the next 5 years (even thought there will be a couple), people, people, people that don't leave at 5pm make a 24 hour city.

Also key to these projects is the fact that all of them have ground floor retail space. Once we get the people living downtown, we want them on the streets eating, shopping and going places. People create the 24-hour city, but they need places to go and enjoy city life that comes with city life prices. We do still need more cultural actives to go with the recent surge of restaurants and nightclubs though. A new live theater or concert space at 10th and K would do nicely

Call me "Sacramento's Biggest Fan" (yes, I have friends that call me that), but I really feel Sacramento is right at that point in the hockey stick where it we are going to see a huge boom. My only hope is that we do not hit the stick too hard on the ice and break it right at the bend. It wouldn't be the first time it happen. I am pretty confident this time around though.

Only time will tell, and this next year will be a good indication of things to come.

The Metropolitan

35 Stories
10th and J Street
320 Condos from 700 to 1300 Square Feet.
13,000 Square Feet Retail

Developer: John Saca
Architect: Kwan Henmi Architecture/Planning

John Saca has announced his third condo tower for downtown Sacramento. This one is proposed for the north side of 10th and J across from Caesar Chavez Park on the land purchased from Dean Ingemanson (Remember him from Metro Place?). Saca notes that this building "will be more cost effective," and "There will be fewer amenities." This will help bring prices down a bit from the much talked about Towers at Capitol Mall, but they will still be a little pricey for most people.

I must say, John Saca is determined to carry downtown Sacramento revitalization on his back if it breaks him. I wish the man nothing but the greatest success. I have much admiration for people like him that take major risks in life. If you happen to stumble onto this John, best of luck. I'm pulling for you and I know a lot of people are as well. From what I have heard about you, I have little doubt you will succeed.

Being involved in 301CM as well as the the very important K Street proposals though, I just hope he is not over extending himself.

On a higher level note, The block of 10th and J is probably the most blight block in downtown now that ‘the hole in the ground’ is being developed into Plaza Lofts. That's saying quite a bit especially with K Street Mall right next door. The south side of that block has a development application on file with the city from St Anton LLC and The Cordano Family for a 23-story condo high-rise with some 230 condo units, office space, and 15K of retail space. (Sorry, haven’t seen able to find a rendering yet) They were actually the first high-rise condo proposal announced in Oct 2004, but not much was made of it since 301CM came along only weeks later

I have a feeling that if people are looking for a more reasonable ownership housing options to live in downtown proper, you are going to want to keep your eye on the St Anton project, as well as the Library Lofts at 8th and I. Since those two are “smaller” buildings, I have a feeling we are going to see the per square foot cost come down a bit compared to the other luxury developments. (I know, I know, still not “affordable” but much more reasonable)

The trifecta of Plaza Lofts (225 units and 21K Retail), The Metropolitan, and the St Anton Building, if all developed would over put over 1000 new residents and over 54K of high quality retail space around Caesar Chavez Park. This would without a doubt create some amazing energy and really put some life into CC Park outside of just Concert in the Park in the summer time.

Next year is going to be an interesting year in Sacramento. If we can see a few of these mixed-use proposals breakground, we are going to see a large influx of people living in downtown over the next 2-3 years. As I have mentioned many of times, that is the key to a 24-hour city.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Towers land a 230-room InterContinental

Wow...I had a feeling it was going to be a good hotel, but this one beats my expectaions. From those unfamiliar with InterContinental, they are also in SF at the Mark Hopkins in Nob Hill. That is one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in.

The spa that is mentioned in the article is a swanky place from El Dorado Hills, The Spa at La Borgata.

This is definatly a HUGE check mark on the financing check list for banks. I also have to imagine this boads well for some higher end retail that probably woulnd't mind sharing the same building as an InterContinental and some 800 high end condos.

Between the two sales events Saca has held, he currently has 10K deposits from 450 people. Which basically mean everyone who was invited to the sales events put a deposit down for one.

That's over 50% of the building. 50% is usually the magical mark on these condo projects in banks minds. Developers are required to hold a certain amount off the market until construction gets further along to account for any increase in costs in construction.

As long as he gets the non-refundable ones in a couple of months, I have to imagine that financing will be much easier for him.

Downtown condo venture lands swank British hotel
Sacramento Business Journal - December 16, 2005

The Towers on Capitol Mall has lined up its luxury hotel -- a 230-room InterContinental.

The deluxe British chain will open the hotel on the lowest 18 floors of the first of the two 53-floor towers that developer John Saca plans to build at 301 Capitol Mall in downtown Sacramento.

The hotel would be the second InterContinental in California -- the other is on Nob Hill in San Francisco -- and the 14th in the United States. There are 130 overall, in 60 countries.

Saca and InterContinental have finalized a contract to bring the hotel to Sacramento, Saca said Friday in a press release. The deal shows, he said, that Sacramento is ready for the chain's "impeccable services and amenities."

The InterContinental is the most luxurious brand in a reservation network that includes Crown Plaza, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. People who live in The Towers will have access to the hotel's services, including concierge, maid service and valet.

As of late November, Saca's company had accepted refundable $10,000 deposits on 450 of the approximately 800 condominiums planned for The Towers. This month, the owner of a plush El Dorado Hills spa has been making plans to buy space in the high-rise for what would become the area's largest luxury spa.

Saca also plans to add a fitness center, stores and restaurants to his project, and has intended all along to add a hotel. But he didn't say which one until today.

Crew recently demolished the former building of the Sacramento Union newspaper to prepare for The Towers' construction. Saca expects to start building the condos in January.

InterContinental Hotels Group PLC bases its U.S. operation in Atlant

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Crystal Ice Building - 16th and R

Oh how do I hate the Crystal Ice building. It is the eye sore and most blighted part of my neighborhood. It makes walking to Hangar 17 and Taka's a painful excursion each time

Friedman looks to have some good ideas. I'd love to see a specialty store come to that site similar to a Corti Brothers with a great deli. My wife would definitely dig the "karma" option with spa, message and yoga though

The more different options a neighborhood has the more appealing it is to a wider group of people and personal preferences. Choices are a good thing.

The architects working on this project have done a number of Whole Foods projects. I'm not sure if Petrovich is overreacting to whole grocery store situation. I think Safeway and Whole Foods attract two different type of people. Whole Foods will attract people that are willing to spend a little more money for natural and organic products. While Safeway is your every day run of the mill supermarket.

I think it's pretty safe to say that Whole Foods will land somewhere in our central city in the next few years.

Reports were that they were in talks with John Saca about landing in The Towers and the deal was pretty close. Whole Foods wanted the entire ground floor, but they would have required an additional level of parking just for WF shoppers at a cost of $5 Million to Saca. Unfortunately, it couldn't pencil out.


Developer aims to make old Crystal Ice plant sparkle
By Mary Lynne Vellinga -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PDT Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mark Friedman, one of Sacramento's leading central city developers, is preparing to tackle one of its most challenging historic properties: the decrepit and cavernous former Crystal Ice and Cold Storage plant on R Street.

Friedman bought the complex of brick and concrete buildings earlier this month from longtime owners Angelo Tsakopoulos and Bill Cummings, who in the mid-1990s unsuccessfully sought city approval to replace it with a pair of high-rise office towers.

Crystal Ice occupies a two-block stretch of R Street between 16th and 18th streets, just west of developer Paul Petrovich's new Safeway retail and housing complex. With the exception of one building still used for ice delivery, the old plant has sat vacant since 1993.

"I fell in love with the buildings, which looking at them in their current condition, might be hard to believe," Friedman said. "They have character that I couldn't reproduce or fake, and I think I can turn it into something that will be interesting and fun."

Supporters of the city's plan to redevelop the old industrial corridor of R Street into a mixed-use, walkable district of housing, offices, shops and entertainment cheered Friedman's purchase.
"I would trust that if it's Mark Friedman, it's going to be good," said local preservationist Kay Knepprath, who helped craft the city's R Street plan.

Paul Schmidt, executive director of the Capitol Area Development Authority, said the rehabilitation of Crystal Ice "would really spark a revitalization of a clearly blighted area" and would connect the new Safeway complex at 19th and R streets to restaurateur Randy Paragary's Empire nightclub and Icon restaurant to the east.

Friedman, son of suburban shopping center developer Mort Friedman, is known for his embrace of modern urban design with an industrial feel. He and a group of partners operating under the moniker Loftworks recently renovated an early 20th century auto dealership at 16th and J streets into a complex of lofts, offices and restaurants that has emerged as a center of Sacramento nightlife.

The same group is currently finishing up a building behind 16th and J with 14 residential lofts on the upper floors, offices on the second floor and street-level retail. Tenants will include Bistro 33, a new restaurant from the owners of the 33rd Street Bistro and the Riverside Club, and Design Within Reach, a well-known modern furniture store.

At the moment, it's hard to envision Crystal Ice as the retail and housing hub Friedman expects it to become.

The buildings are filled with decaying rubble, including asbestos and piles of cork that once insulated pipes. The floor is pocked with dangerous holes, and there is no operating electrical system.

An abandoned squatters camp occupies one large room. The transient occupants somehow managed to bring a couch, vanity, coffee table, old-fashioned pedal sewing machine, wheelchair, tricycle, various candles and a pile of sewing catalogs into the padlocked compound.
Friedman said he's still trying to get a handle on the buildings' condition and what it will take to restore them. He has hired the Portland, Ore., firm of GBD Architects to help.

"They're helping me evaluate what's worth keeping and what we should tear down," he said.
The developer said he expects to save at least the central brick building, which dates from 1923, as well as an adjacent building of more recent construction whose inside is supported by rows of eye-catching concrete columns.

Friedman also likes the curved, bow-truss roof of the single-story building from which Crystal Ice deliveries are made.

He envisions retail and restaurant tenants on the first floor and housing above.
A raised loading dock could be a nice place for an outdoor dining area.

Friedman said he's exploring three concepts: "green" retailers that feature environmentally friendly goods; a "karma" mix of yoga, massage, spa and other health-related uses; or a "specialty" grocery theme.

It's that last idea that worries neighbor Petrovich. This week, he raised concern that Friedman might try to bring in a grocer, such as Whole Foods, that would compete with his Safeway development.

"That would be about the biggest setback and disaster for the R Street corridor that could ever happen," Petrovich said.

Friedman, however, said he hasn't even started talking to potential tenants yet. "I haven't approached anyone at all because I don't have anything to show them," he said.

If he did bring in a grocery, he said, it would be complementary to the Safeway store.
Friedman said it's important that the development have a cohesive theme to distinguish it from other shopping areas. "What you have to do in order to make these city neighborhoods succeed is to make them different," he said.

He would not reveal how much he paid for the property. Petrovich had it in escrow earlier this year, but the deal fell through over price.

More Downtown Redevelopment Money

Looks like the city is going to get some more redevelopment money for downtown to the tune of 120 MILLION dollars. Of which 20M is going to the Oak Park area.

As the article says, it sounds like a lot, but that money can go very very fast. As my list below shows, there probably isn't enough money to get them all done right now with jsut this money, so using it as efficiently as possible is critical.

While the priority can probably be debated, this is where I think they generally rank for me:

1) K Street Mall
This is no brainier. Downtown will NEVER fully get going without K Street getting cleaned up. Use whatever money is necessary to ensure the 700 block, 800 block and 10th and K get completed with high quality housing, retail and entertainment

This should include new space for performing arts, Sacramento Symphony, Philharmonic, and Ballet at 10th and K

2) Move the Greyhound
Other than the above, nothing else would provide a bigger boast to the area.

3) Renovation of the Community Center into the Sacramento Performing Arts Center
This is long over due. I've never like the bunker cold empty feeling look to the CC. Upgrades to the backstage area could hopefully help attact more touring shows that skip Sacramento due to poor facilites. I would have love to have seen Wicked stop in Sac. But we need better faculties to accommodate them

Rendering of renovations:

4) Mixed-Use Housing on IJKL Street. Must include true affordable housing.
Normally, this would be #1 on the lsit. But with all the momentum in housing right now, I think the private section will be able to handle most of it without public money. The part where this money should come into play is affordable housing. Use this money to build affordable OWNERSHIP housing.

5) Replacement SROs
We need to move some of the SROs from the K Street area. Having them all concentrated in one area puts a major damper on the area. Closing them and leaving people nowhere to go is not the answer. We need to build quality SRO housing, with assistance services, to replace the ones that have fallen into down right despair.

6) Street Cars
I think it’s very important to improve the public/mass transit in downtown. If we want the large amounts of people to move downtown and leave cars at home, we need to be able to get them around at a much more efficient speed than light rail currently provides. The Portland Street cars are perfect examples of this.

These two were hard to choose from, plus private money can be raised to help out:
Tie -7) Bring a Major Culinary or Art School Downtown
While I'm not sure of the current options for people. Me not knowing any probably means there isn't a whole lot out there. This would be a great way to improve the cultural facilities of downtown. This will also help keep people who want that education in Sacramento versus going to SF or elsewhere. Keep our culturally educated people here in Sacramento.

Tie -7) A Sacramento MOMA, or similar high quality museum
Sacramentians have become much more sophisticated over the last 5-10 years with the influx of outside influences moving to our region. It's time for a new sophisticated museum. The Crocker is great, but major cities have more than one big time museum. Same can be said for the Community Center

9) MAJOR Retail
When I say major I mean, anchor department stores such as Saks, Dillards, Neiman Marcus, Create and Barrel, even a Target that is done right, (sorry no Wal-Mart). Having Macys downtown as the only major department stores really hurt the shopping experience. I'm not saying only national retailers, small boutiques are needed to, but in order to get mass people shopping downtown, you need that nationals.

More market-rate / luxury housing should take care of this, but sometimes the first couple need an extra incentives.

10) I don't want to see any of this money go toward office development.
I didn't have a #10 so I figure I'd add something I don't want it to be used for. While more office space is great, it's the last thing that is needed right now. Unless a MAJOR employeer (ie F500) wants to move here, then that changes things. Highly doubtful though

There are much more pressing needs at this time. Office development doesn't need city money anymore, it more than takes care of itself with just the private sector.

I'd be interested to see what the priorities for this money would be from other who read this blog.

City to get fresh funds for downtown
Mike McCarthy
Staff Writer

Sacramento's redevelopment officials plan to sell $120 million worth of new bonds next week, including $100 million for new housing, entertainment and retail projects in the central city.

The financing is the first wave of about $800 million in bond capacity that the downtown redevelopment area gained this spring, and comes after various developers have proposed several new housing and retail projects downtown. This first wave, if spent well, could create a big boost for the city's redevelopment goals.

The city hasn't assigned the money to any particular project yet, but some ongoing ventures will probably benefit, said Leslie Fritzsche, the city's downtown redevelopment manager.
One prime candidate is the planned overhaul of the south side of the 700 and 800 blocks of K Street. Retailer Joe Zeiden, owner of more than 70 Z Gallerie upscale home furnishings stores, plans to develop the 700 block with stores, restaurants and housing. Developer John Saca would build multi-story condos and retail on the other block.

Downtown interests are watching.
"It's really a great opportunity for us," said Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, a coalition of landlords. "There are more projects than money, so they need to be strategic in how they utilize the fund. A lot of people would say $100 million is a ton of money. But that money can go quickly."

J, K and L come first

The city has set criteria for spending the money. The City Council, meeting as the redevelopment agency board, decided last month to spend 40 percent to 50 percent of the funds on projects that have retail, entertainment or related uses.

According to the criteria, such projects should build street life by attracting new shoppers and visitors downtown. Projects proposed on J, K and L streets between 4th and 15th streets get extra points, as do public improvements that support such development.

Another 40 percent to 50 percent of the money would help develop housing. State redevelopment law requires 30 percent of the money to be spent building homes for people with moderate to low incomes. And, again, the city would give the JKL corridor extra consideration.

The final 10 percent to 20 percent would be spent on such public improvements as landscaping barren areas, and on improving pedestrian safety and views. Projects that upgrade transportation and open space along the Sacramento River are a high priority too.

Click link for the rest of the article:

Monday, November 07, 2005

KB Home looks downtown for condo project

This now makes two of the largest home builders in the country eyeing downtown for high-density projects. First DR Horton with the Libarary Lofts on I Street, now KB Homes.

If we have corporate national developers in the mix for high density downtown projects, this bolds well for long term prospects. Plus, they are loaded!!

They wouldn't be jumping into the mix if there wasn't any substance in the urban movement for Sacramento

There is defiantly a movement throughout out the country that is reverting back to the urban living. Over the last few decades families tended to flee to the suburbs, that trend is starting to reverse itself.

Giant builder KB Home has jumped into the high-rise condominium game, targeting downtown Sacramento for one or more projects.

KB has announced the creation of a high-density and mixed-use division, KB Urban, that will focus on mid- and high-rise downtown projects, said Jeff Gault, the division's president.

Gault said he will focus first on the Los Angeles area, then move on to Orange County, San Diego and the San Francisco and Sacramento areas. By next fall, he expects to be operating in Sacramento, looking for downtown sites for condos that would sell units at $400,000 to $800,000.

The projects would mix the housing with retail and possibly offices and hotels.

Click for more readings:

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Can anyone guess where this is?

That is our K Street Mall back in the 40's.

Now I know some of you must be "Bullshit" There way too much life on that street to be Sacramento's K Street. That has to be a K Street somewhere else. There are actually cars on that street!!

It is!!! Look, you can even see the Kress Building in the background!

Unfortunately, many of us are not old enough to remember the K Street Mall of years past. and only have images urine stenched streets, homeless people, drug use, burned down buildings, boarded up retail shops and general scariness

The K Street of the older days was filled with lots hotels, theaters, department stores. A big difference from todays selection of retailers. (even if it has got a million times better over the years).

It was the entertainment center for the region. When you wanted a night out on the town, K Street is where you went.

For decades, and decades the city has been trying to jump start the most tired, beat up stretch of our central city and turn it in the lively city we see above (Minus the hats)

Thankfully, such landmarks as The Crest Theater, Kress Building, Sacramento Public Market (by famous architect Julia Morgan) and The Cahderdral of the Blessed Sacrament were able to survive the down turn of K Street.

After year and years of fails starts and proposals coming and going ranging from TV Studios to a Century CinaArts. Sacramento may have finally broke though.

In Oct 2004, Mayor Fargo held a "Plan A Ballosza" , where hundereds of Sacramentains came out to tell city leaders what they want to see happen to our downtown. RFPs were sent out to all the property owners basically saying, time to put up or get Eminent Domain dropped on you. (it's about time)

After many meeting and discussion around property ownership, the historical significance of the buildings on K Street Mall, 3 groups of developers are coming out of that process that are attempting to step up and offer plans to develop the 700 block, 800 block and the city owned 10th and K block of K Street Mall.

There is so much info on these projects, I'm going to keep them as short as possible. I'm sure I will leave some details out.

10th and K

Developement Team:
David Taylor, CIM Group, St Anton, and the Cordano Company (K Street Cental)

In addtion to the city owned site at 10th and K, the team is proposing to develop all 4 corners of that intersection. The other 3 sites are owned by the team, so ED will not be needed.

What is being proposed for the other 3 sites:
- 230 Housing Units
- 105-Room Boutique Hotel
- Retail and Restaurant Space

For the city site, there are three option they have presented:
1) 114 Market rate Housing, Lucky Strike Bowling, Jazz Nightclub, Broadcast Studios for UPN and KFBK (can you imainge watching Nappear calling someone a "moron" through a glass window? haha)

2) Movie Theatre Option, only if the Westfield one does not happen. This would be appox 150K in retail and entertainement space.

3) Live Theatre/Performing Arts

The team will be pursuing a Live Theatre/Performing Arts option. Talks were that originally the B Street Theater would move into the space, but their commitment to the Sutter Midtown Project killed that idea. The city has hired consultants to see what would be possible for the site and what users would be interested.

For as much I think a new performance art stage would be great, and I think a new movie theatre is needed downtown...I would like to see the Sacramento Symphony, Philharmonic, Ballett, ect, get permanent space.

If we finally get the Community Theatre (To be renamed "Sacramento Performing Arts Center)" renovated, that will take care of performance art for a little while

800 Block and 700 Block

After submitted competing proposals, John Saca and his team have signed a "peace treaty" with the owner of Z Gallery, Joe Zeiden for each to develop seperate projects.

For the 700 Block, Zieden Properites will rehad all the building on that block and bring in approx 50K in new retail. Names such are Borders Books, Urban Outfitters and Sur la Table.

For the 800 Block, Saca and company was proposing a high-rise condo project with about 500 units and some 30K in retail space.

The initial estimate cost to the city in terms of a subisdy/loan is "budgeted" to be around 20M.

To FINALLy get K Street cleaned up, to me, that is NOTHING. Pennies compared to how long that stretch of street has been sitting in dispare and has plagued downtown.

There are still a lot of details to work out since there is still some property that will need to be bought or ED from property owners on K Street

More on these very important project coming soon...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Sacramento Union Building..we hardly knew ya.

I think it would be kinda cool to see them save this part and maybe display it somewhere in the building. Nothing that stares you right in the face though, something discrete, but noticeable

Someone told me that Mark Twain wrote for the Sac Union for a period of time in 1866. There is tidbit of info I had no idea about...WOW

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Library Lofts at 8th and I

Developer: DR Horton
295 For-Sale Condo's
30-45K Office Space (to be used by the county)
5K Retail Space.

I like the look a lot. Reminds me of some of the buildings that are under constuction in San Diego right now.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Construction Photos Part 2

18th and L Street

St Anton Building at 21st and L

Construction Photos and Random Sacramento Photos Part 1

I took a nice Saturday afternoon walk all through midtown and downtown to various construction sites. I thought would post what the process is of many of the urban projects under construction at this time.

Recently completed Fremont Mews on 14/15th Between Q/P

O1 Lofts on 16th and K. Next door to Mikuni's. Will house Bistro 33 (Good Breakfast!) and Design Within Reach on the ground floor

Sear Building Lofts at 12th and K

Plaza Lofts on 9th and J

Marriot Resience Inn at 15th and L.

This is one that many might not know about. It is a 15-story Marriot that is also featuring 30 for-sale condo's on the top 3 floors. So while we hear about all these other larger projects, none of which have actually broken ground yet, these are actually under construction.

The site is directly across the street from the new restaurant Mason's and nightclub The Park

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

More News on the County Building at 8th and I

Here is the staff report for this week:

Looks like the tower will be 295+ units ranging from 700 - 1600 sf priced between 350K - 675K. Plus, 5000 sf retail and 30-45K Office.

They list another reason for going with Horton is due to the fact that this development would target the more moderate buyer, versus the higher-end units that are out there right now.

This is really good.

Some affordable housing units in downtown. (At least compared to the other proposals out there) 1600 sf will go for about $420 a sf, versus well over $500 a sf at Aura or 301 CM. It also mentions the prices are somewhat based on views, elevation, details and penthouse orientation. A place on the lower floor will mostly likey be even more "affordable"

From the report:
"Although there are various ownership residential development proposals currently being proposed downtown, the Selection Committee felt this proposed project addresses a different market, the moderate homebuyer, and is best suited for this area."

Friday, October 14, 2005

L Street Developments

I thought I would put up some smaller infill developments that are going on a couple blocks from each other on L Street.

Altogether these projects consist of over 330 units of housing, 92 of which are for-sale, and 18,000 square feet of retail space.

These three projects, in addition to the restaurants and art galleries such as Zanzibar and Phoenix, already there, are going to create an amazing neighborhood center in midtown between 18th and 21st, and between Capitol Ave and L Street.

I hope some of the retail goes to new galleries. That area seems to have the most galleries around midtown. I would like to see it really become the center point of Second Saturday. (at least until R Street gets really going, if it ever does)

For more info on Second Saturday

18th and L
North Side of 18th and L
176 Rental Units
10K Retail Space
Retail Signed on:
Buckhorn Grill..Yummy (If you have been to the one in Winters, you know what I am talking about)

Estimated Completion: May 2006
Developer Sotiris Kolokotronis
Architect: Ron Vrilakas

L Street Lofts
South Side of 18th and L
92 For-Sale Condo Units
6K Retail Space

Estimated Groundbreaking: Year End
Developer Sotiris Kolokotronis
Architect: Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects

St Anton Building
21st and L
65 Rental Units
3K Retail Space
Retail Signed on:
Stone Grill. Cook your own meat on lava rocks. Sounds kick ass.

Estimated Completion: Early 2006
Developer: St Anton Partners.

Ugly County Building Going Bye-Bye?

There was news a couple months back about the old county building on 8th and I being solicated to a developers. The building is vacant, now that the city has finally moved to the new city hall. Chances of that eye-sore being leased are slim and none..and slim just left the building.

The county is carrying a 8 million dollar mortgage on it and is costing the country something like $50,000 every month. They are really just looking to get it off their hands.

4 proposals were received. The one choosen was from homebuilder DR Horton was choosen to for the site.

A 21-story tower with 295 condo's with a small amount of office and retail is planned,

Now some interesting news, there were two other proposals that made the short list, so one was thrown out.

- Dain Domich (local developer), whom you might remember bought the funky peice of land on Capitol Mall before the city ripped it from him (I'm still mad about that). His proposal was for a 28-story tower with condo's, office and retail.

- Montgomery Advisors out of SF. They proposed 1,000 (Yes, 1,000) housing units.

It looks like the reasoning behind choosing Horton is they have DEEP pockets and can build right away. Horton had $11 BILLION in revenue last year. Hopefully they can get going as soon as possible before the housing market inevitably cools down. The item goes before the county board next week for approval.

Another intersting note, Montgomery Advisors. That's great to see that they are looking at the Sac market. I think they have done some big stuff in SF

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


5th and Capitol Mall
29-Story Office Building
Restaurant and Retail Space

Developer: Angelo G. Tsakopoulos
Architect: Edwin M. Kado
Estimated Completion: 2008


Wow, where to begin. First off, while there are things I have a problem with about this building, there are some really good things with regard to this project as well.

It gets rid of long standing major blight on our premier address street. The site is the former Wells Fargo Bank branch that has been sitting empty for well over a decade.

The buildings floorplates are designed in a way that allows a lot of the smaller companies that moved out to the suburbs, because of lack of appropriate smaller spaces, that want to be downtown, to come back. I said this long before this long before this project came around, the office building we have now don't accommodate small companies that only need 4-5K in space, most would like even less than that.

I love the idea of a restaurant on the top 2 floors of the building. I have always wanted to see a penthouse restaurant come into downtown that would have amazing views of the city.

Now for the bad...
The building needs some aesthetic improvements. Nothing that can't be fixed with some changes, but never the less I'd like to see be addressed.

First, the color of the building. That dark looking glass. Oh, I can't stand it. It reminds me of the Capitol Square, (the building directly behind the Wells Fargo Building) and the East End Complex on 16th and Capitol. I'd really like to see the color of the building soften up a little.

While I can appreciate Mr Tsakopoulos wanting to pay homage to his Greek heritage (Hell, why not, I'm Greek too! :-) I think it was over done and too much focus was placed on the Parthenon at the top of the building and not enough to the rest of it. While I'm still not sold on the Parthenon as a sign of Greek heritage (as someone I know said, why not use classic Greek architecture like more marble columns or a pitched roof?) it could work if it was not the total and only focus of the building. Examples of what I would do? Honestly, I'm not sure. I just think it would look a bit off if built with no changes. With some changed though, could look great.

Here is a quote from May 13, 2005 Sacramento Bee:

"This is the kind of kitschy proposal that might make sense in Disneyland or Las Vegas," said Eisen, a former architecture critic for the Boston Herald who was educated at Harvard Design School. "It is an insult to the people of Sacramento."

Strong words.

Parthenon has been on and off the Design Review Board for about a month now, which might suggest that the architect, Edwin Kado, who designed the Ziggurat Building in West Sac, is doing some revisions after hearing some harsh criticisms.

Crocker Art Museum Expansion

Crocker Art Museum Expansion

Site Plan:

Taken from Crocker Webpage:

*Three times the current space for the permanent collection
*Four times the current space for temporary exhibitions
*300-seat auditorium/lecture theatre
*Cafe with indoor and open-air seating in the courtyard
*Double the current number of parking spaces
*Expanded Museum Store
*Increased accessibility
*7,000-square-foot courtyard plus public access to the current courtyard
*Loading dock, freight elevator and increased onsite storage space

Entrance/Ground Level:
The ground level of the expansion features a new main entrance for the Museum. This fully accessible entrance will be positioned diagonally from the existing entrance and eliminate the current need for a separate handicapped entry. Upon entering the Museum, visitors will be greeted by a dramatic two-story, glass-walled atrium opening on to a new 7,000-square-foot courtyard.

The large atrium reception space will be a great gathering place for Downtown Sacramento, and it will be one of the largest entertainment spaces in the city, accommodating 400 for a formal sit-down dinner or up to 1,200 when used in conjunction with the new courtyard. This indoor-outdoor experience is enhanced with a new link to the existing courtyard, allowing unfettered access to this space for the first time.

Off the atrium will be: a 300-seat auditorium with state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment; an expanded Museum Store with direct views from the sidewalk; two meeting rooms that accommodate up to 150 people; and a café with indoor and open-air seating.

The ground floor of the existing structure will be turned into an Education Center. The Center features three studios enabling us to offer a full-scale studio art program for adults and children; a hands-on gallery space for youth 18-months to 10-years; a docent and teacher resource room to facilitate greater use of the Museum by the community; a greatly expanded stack area for the Hansen Library; and 1,300-square-feet of exhibition space to showcase our current student exhibition program as well as the works created in our own studio art program.

The ground level is important to improving Museum operations in that it also provides: a loading dock and other service facilities; matting, framing and conservation workspaces; a large freight elevator; and a state-of-the-art security control room, all helping to ensure that the Museum will be prepared to operate efficiently into the future.

Second and Third Floor Details:
The Second and Third Floors will be dedicated to the fundamental requirement of the institution—the care and display of works of art.

Today, less than four percent of the Museum’s permanent collection can be displayed at one time, and the relatively small space available for temporary exhibitions cannot accommodate significant traveling shows. The expansion dramatically enlarges the size and number of galleries, tripling the space for the Crocker’s permanent collection and quadrupling the amount of space for special shows. With this addition, the Museum will be able to display more of the Crocker collection and host larger, “blockbuster” exhibitions. The new wing includes soaring 18-foot ceilings and moveable partition walls, creating flexible and dynamic spaces for large artworks and exhibits.

With the Third Floor (Top Level) of the expansion devoted entirely to gallery space, visitors will take a new circulation route leading gallery to gallery without the necessity to “double back.” This spatial clarity will help visitors make sense of the permanent collection as they move through the new wing to the existing Crocker complex, making a smooth transition through the history of California art from statehood to the present. The Museum’s European collections will be installed in the traditional galleries of the historic building, and the top floor of the Mansion and Pavilion Wings will house Asian art.

The Second Floor (Main Level) of the existing building will provide galleries for the growing ceramics collection as well as Victorian spaces to tell the story of the Crocker Family and the Museum’s history. One of the most unique exhibition spaces will be a Works on Paper Study Center in the current Herold Wing. The Crocker is renowned for its excellent drawings collection, but the fragile nature of works on paper requires brief display periods and careful storage. The Center will provide a controlled environment to protect the Museum’s drawings while allowing unprecedented access for students and scholars. Rotating exhibitions will also ensure a portion of this significant collection is always on view to the public.

Finally, a state-of-the-art collections storage area will be included in the new wing. The Museum currently relies on Ground Level storage that is not protected from flooding, as well as off-site storage that makes objects frustratingly inaccessible. The Second Floor of the addition provides better protection and access to the collections. It also consolidates much-needed staff offices to improve operational efficiencies.


First off, while I am a huge performing arts fan (where is my renovated Community Theater!!), I have never got into museum art.

With that being said, while I have not been to the Crocker in 15 years, and prob will only make one or two trips after the expansion is done only for people visiting, I fully understand (Unlike people who say a new arena in not needed. Should the Maloofs get it free? No, but they shouldn't/won't pay the whole thing either) the importance, enjoyment and benefits of having more and better art facilities in our city. The Crocker our cities largest and one of our only true art collection museums. It is the oldest museum west of the Mississippi...and it's run down, and it shouldn't be be that way.

We need to take care of our cultural assets, while expanding and bring new ones in. *cough* more performing arts space *cough*

One thing I would really like to see come to our city, even though as I said I'm not a art fan (I didn't even care of the NYC ones), is a Sacramento MOMA. Every cool metropolitan has a MOMA! We need a MOMA!!!

The expansion was supposed to begin in the Winter of 2004 and be completed by 2006, but nothing has began yet. I have seen the Crocker on the design review agenda for a couple weeks now, so hopefully they can begin soon. Coupled with all the great things happening on Capitol Mall, they can't help but feed off each other.

For a listing of current exhibits and permanent collections, please click the following link:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

701 L Street

701 L Street
31-Stories, 430 Feet
233K Office Space
10K Retail Space
70-80 Luxury Rental Apartments

Developer: Danny Benvenuti, Tower Development
Architects : Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)


The conversation I has with Erik on the Firestone Building reminded me of this proposed development. The first think I though was: damn, how could I have not written on this one yet?. The reason I say that is, it could very well be the most important proposal out least in the top 4 or 5 out of the dozen of so out there.

Why do you ask?

Well, it's proposed at the current site of the Greyhound Station at 7th and L Street . As you may know, the Greyhound has stood as a drunken, drug dealing, loitering, police call ridden location in downtown. From reports I have heard, this corner receives more police calls than any other location in a wide margin. The city (and lots of other people) has been trying for YEARS to get the Greyhound moved, and they might just get that wish.

My thinking is that getting rid of this might just possibly help downtown streets and K Street become a little safer for the thousands of condo buyers just blocks away as well as the ones in the works.

Plus, it's a sharp looking building. HOK does great work.

This combined with the proposals for K Street (I really need to write that one as well!) could turn the worse couple blocks in downtown into the best ones.

In a move that really shows the intent of the property owner to get this done, Tower Development officials said that the company would self-finance the project. That is HUGE. You RARELY ever see a developer put so much of their own money into a project. My "sources" tell me that Benvinuti has made big strides over the last couple of weeks to get the Gryhound moved. Hopefully we can hear more in upcoming weeks. Any new development would hinge on the Greyhound finding a new place to move. My guess is somewhere on Richards Blvd before it ultimately ends up at the new Intermodel Station years from now

The idea of a public market at the Greyhound, like Pikes, came up the JKL meetings. I really like the idea, but not sure where they could put it now that a building will be put here.

Now the bad news. Preservation groups has said that they want to keep the Greyhound station as is.

Are you kidding me?

Of all the buildings that we could choice to save, this is easly the last one I would choose. If any of you have taken a walk by the station (Make sure to bring a gun) there are ZERO historical features on this building. It's a piece of junk.

I cannot see them winning this one though. These preservation groups were once a powerful force for redevelopment official to deal with, but now they have almost lost all creditability with the city with their insisting to save any old building without regard to the merit of it's real historic value, economic feasablity or it being able to be used in an efficent way.

Building we need to make sure never get torn down are buildings such as the First National Bank at 7th and J, Elliott Building (now the East End Lofts), Julia Morgan Building (Now the Sheraton), Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Elk Tower, Cal West Building, even the Berry or Marshal if they can renovated without falling apart and put to good use (I think those are nice looking buildings with BAD uses), I could even MAYBE begin to hear arguements for parts of K Street. ..those are just off the top of my head

Just because it's old, does not mean it's historic..let's repeat.. Just because it's old, does not mean it's historic

This is the same group that wanted the Biltmore Hotel saved because there was part of a staircase (or something minor like that) that was "historic" Developer Dean Ingmanson wanted to build apartments and ground floor retail on that site. Preservationist were able to stop him with the backing of the city council. I think the council today fully realizes they made a mistake with that decision. To see what I mean, please take a drive on J Street between 10th and 11th.
Just because it's old..okay, you get the idea.

Fortunately, John Saca has purchased the site and is planning a condo tower. The other side of that street, equally as bad (maybe worse), is planned for a 23-story condo tower by St Anton and The Cordano Company.

Okay, I'm ending my rant now. Hopefully we hear more in the upcoming weeks and months

Article on 701 L Street

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Firestone Building

Firestone Building
16th and L

Ever go down 16th Street and see the old Firestone Building at L Street and go: I wish they would do something with that building, it's on such a visable corner of downtown that is really seeing a lot of urban development in the surrounding area.

Well, here it is:

I must say I was somewhat disappointed at this. I had originally heard about a year ago that the owners were talking with developers Opus West about using the site for a mid-rise building that would hold about 100 for-sale condos and ground floor retail.

As you all know by now, I am HUGE on bringing as much housing to downtown as possible.

While the new restaurants, and from what it looks like a new club, will def keep the expanding nightlife and vibrancy going in that part of the city, I feel that an opportunity was missed to add some housing that would have had amazing views of Capitol Park.

I know there were preservation issues with the building and that they would be required to preserve the buildings first floor since it was so historic...*cough* OLD *cough* My feeling is that they were not able to build up and expand the project without doing some serious changes to the building, and preservationist would have probably flipped at that thought.

The design of the building is very boring, but as I said, I don't think they would a have been able to change much about the building without an upheaval from the preservationists in the city. I'm all for saving historic building that have a reason to be saved and can still be used economically, but I'm not sure this was one of them

Along with The Park that is being built on 15th and L, this is going to bring the nightclub number to 6 within a 10 block or so radius in a couple of years. It's going to be a very active area at night.

K Bar - K and 13th
Avalon - H and 15th
The Park - L and 15th (I'm really looking forward to Mason's!)
Firestone - L and 16th
East End Gateway Club - O and 16th
Empire - R and 15th

I've also heard that the owner of Aioli Bodega Espanola is opening a wine bar at either this location, or in the small building that is next door. Yes!!!

Even though there could have been something much grander here, this is still going to continue the renaissance of 16th Street into a great, great urban street. Within the next couple of years, we will see 16th Street from H Street all the way to P Street filled with loft living, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife all within a walkable scale.

Aura Condo's

Aura Condo's
601 Capitol Mall
~262 Condo Units

Developer: BNC Developement
Architect : Daniel Libeskind
Estimated Ground Breaking: By 2005 Year End


Has Sacramento really hit big league status?

Maybe it has.

World renowned architect Daniel Libeskind has designed a high-rise condo tower for downtown Sacramento that will defiantly change the way we see our skyline. Not really for the height of the building, but for the sheer different look of the building compared to everything else that is currently built, or even proposed.

Daniel Libeskind is known for his work on the original plan for the new Freedom Tower in NYC (which I did not like) on the site of the fallen World Trade Center as well the a number of Jewish Museum's including one in Berlin

Being proposed for Lot A, next door to the David Taylor 621 Capitol Mall project, this high-rise will be something remarkably different than any other building we see in Sacramento's skyline. Even though it is not as tall as The Towers, The Towers has a look that says Sacramento to me, it has a similar look and feel as some of our other buildings...Aura on the other hand, has a totally different look. Almost looks like something you'd find in Miami.

At first glance, I really did not like the look of the building. Here is a picture of what it originally looked like:

To me, the lines of the building, color and shape just looked..well, off. Being the "starchitect" Libeskind is, he could not have gotten to that status by being like any other architect and do "safe" designs, his designs have to have something different to them and be on the controversial side

Now I know it's hard to get a good idea of what the finished product will look like in renderings and models, but if the finished product looks more like the model first shown, I think it will be a striking addition to the skyline.

With over 200 units for a 1.25 acre parcel, the housing density of around 200 DUA is good amount. There will also be ~14,000 square feet of ground floor space which is very important.

With this 14K of space, along with the 70K at The Towers, 21K at 621 Capitol Mall, and 21K at Plaza Lofts, I am very hopeful it will be a natural shopping extension from Downtown Plaza to create an outdoor urban shopping feel I have been really wanting to develop. I would to see a huge downtown shopping experience develop all the way from J Street (it's already starting with Plaza Lofts) over to K Street Mall and through to Capitol Mall. Think Pioneer Square in Portland, or on a more grand level, Union Square in SF, but done in our own way maybe around Cesar Chavez.....drool

With 200 units here and over 700 at The Towers, along with the ground floor retail and restaurant space in these projects as well as 621 Capitol Mall, our premier business address in Sacramento, which is deserted after 5 and on weekends, can start becoming a vibrant living and shopping crown jewel of our city.

The next step would be for the city to gain control of Capitol Mall (currently owned by the state..suprise!!!) so they can do some major landscaping and light improvements to make it truly shine.

Once Aura is off the ground, head of BNC, Craig Nassi, has stated that they will start work on his next project in Sacramento..Epic Tower, which will be 50+ stories. He has purchased land at 12th and I for the project.

There is an initial rendering and website.

For now though, I'm not a big fan of the design. It looks like a giant big thump. You can
definitely tell it's a Libeskind design with all the curvature and lines in the building. Once more details and renderings start to come out, I'll write more about it then.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

About damn time, only took 15 years

....for more detail on Six Twenty-One Capitol Mall, please read my second post.

Construction to begin on downtown high-rise
By Jon Ortiz -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:43 pm PDT Thursday, September 8, 2005

Construction crews will break ground in two weeks on Downtown Sacramento's first high-end office project in more than a decade, said developer David S. Taylor.

The project, dubbed Six Twenty-One Capitol Mall for its location just three blocks from the state Capitol, will be a 25-story steel-and-glass tower and should be completed in about 2 years.

Downey Brand LLC, one of the region's biggest law firms, has signed a lease to move from its current offices at 555 Capitol Mall into Taylor's high-rise in 2008. Two other firms, whom Taylor declined to name Thursday, also have signed contracts. That would bring the total preleased space to about 35 percent of the building's rentable 366,000 square footage.

The site of the building is a vacant half-block parcel known as Lot A, bordered by 7th Street on the east, L Street on the north, Capitol Mall on the south and another city-owned parcel on the west."

It's the last undeveloped block in the downtown area," said Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. "We'll definitely see momentum from this project spin into more development in the area."Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum of San Francisco are the buildiing architects. Hensel Phelps Construction Co., based in Greeley, Colo., is the general contractor.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

East End Lofts

Phase I: Elliott Building

16th and J
-18 Loft Units
-1 Floor Offices
-Retail: Mikuni Sushi and PF Changs
-Completed: Nov 2003

Phase II: O1 Lofts

16th and K
- 14 Loft Units
- O1 Communications HQ
- Retail: Bistro 33 and Design Within Reach Studio
- Groundbreaking: Nov 2004:
- Est Completion: Oct 2005

Loftworks, LLC (cool site)
Michael Heller - Heller Pacific
Mark Freidman - Fulcrum Capital
Glenn Sorenson - Sutter Commerical
Bob Walsh - Walsh Construction Company
Randy Boehm - Walsh & Forestor, Inc

16th and J; Ron Vrilakas
16th and K: FFA Design


If any of you have been to the corner of 16th and J over the last couple of years you will notice that there is a new buzz to Sacramento that had not really been seen before in that part of town. Lots of people walking in the streets, people laughing and having a good time.

Welcome to the new East End Lofts.

To me, this was the first project in downtown that really showed what could be the future of Sacramento if we embrace mixed-use developments such as this.

This project consisted of transforming a old auto dealership that had become an obsolete, darkened eye-sore, on one of the most heavily traveled intersection of our central city into what we see today as a bright lively intersection that combines housing, office space, 2 great entertainment restaurants, that have turned 16th and J into a cornerstone in our city.

If you do not believe this is something that can be offered in Sacramento, take a trip down there on Thursday, Friday or Saturday night and see what I mean....the times have def changed since I was younger

The one of the most important parts of this project that I think gets over looked is the fact that it showed developers, lenders and retail tenants that these projects are feasible, and most MOST importantly, profitable.

The fact that PF Changs and Mikuni's both signed 10 year leases showed that restaurants were beginning to see the long neglected potential of downtown Sacramento. 16 of the 18 lofts were preleased before the project was even completed, thus showing that there is a demand from people to living in loft-style units in our urban core...even at an eye-popping $2500-$4500 monthly rent. This project will pave the way for developers who wish to do projects like this to obtain financing much easier than in the past.

What made financing this project much easier was the fact that in addition to the leaes from PF Changs and Mikuni's, the 2nd floor offices were also leased for 10 years by Fulcrum Proerties, and Dickstein & Zerbi Law Firm.

Another big part of the financing of the project was the help from the City of Sacramento. Since the building was built in 1922, the building did not meet many of the currnet building codes in place, most important (and expensive) were structural, seismic and Americans With Disabilities Act upgrades. To make this happen, LoftWorks negotiated with the city of Sacramento for a $3 million subsidy to help with these improvements

The part that is scary about this whole process is that no more than 6 or 7 month prior to this development team coming in with this project, the building was almost turned into a telecom hotel that is bascially used for telcom switch storage and that that would have killed any life on that corner. Think the SBC buildings on J Street between 14th and 15th...scary thought considering what we have now.

The second part of the East End Lofts is currently being built on what used to be a surface parking lot directly next to the Elliot Building. This building will hold 14 loft units on the 3rd and 4th floor which will rent from around 1200-1500 a month, the HQ for a local company O1 Communications on the 2nd floor, as well as Bistro 33 (owners of 33rd Street Bistro and Riverside Clubhouse) and a Design Within Reach furniture studio. The project

This project will continue the synergy that was first started with the Elliot Building, and will be followed up by the East End Gateway (please see blog before this for details) in creating a wonderful 16th Street living, dinning, shopping and entertainment experience for all Sacramentians and visitors .

For some articles about the the East End Lofts and award received, please click on the follwing links:

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The East End Gateway

The East End Gateway

Site 1: 16th and N SE Corner
Site 2: 16th and O NW Corner
Site 3: 16th and O SW Corner
Site 4: 16th and P NW Corner

~226 Rental and For-Sale Units ~25K Ground Floor Retail Space

Site 1 and 4: Lambert Development
Site 2 and 3: Loftworks, LLC

Site 1 and 4: Carrier Johnson
Site 2 and 3: FFA Design

These are not the most grand projects I will write about, but these development hold a special interest for me because they are very close to where I purchased my home. These developments were part of the reason I choose the area I did. They rank very high on my list of project I most want to see happen as soon as possible.

In short, The sites currently belong to the State of California through Capitol Area Development Authority (CADA). Through out the years site are prepared and turned out to developers for the development of housing in the central city.

For more info please go to

An example of a CADA project is the Fremont Building at 16th and O, and Capitol Park Homes on 12th/14th and Q/P Streets In early 2003, CADA issued an RFQ for the four sites mentioned above, together they were named "The East End Gateway"(EEG). The names comes from the sites being east of the Capitol.

In June 2003, two development group were chosen. One small side note is that there were around 10-12 developers that put in proposals for the site. This was a tremendous showing for downtown housing.

For site 1 and 4, Lambert Development. Lambert Development is out of San Diego and was building very high-end condo's in downtown San Diego and the China Bason in SF. Very well respected firm.

For Site 2 and 3, Loftworks, LLC. Loftworks in the local team that included Michael J. Heller, Mark Friedman, Glenn Sorensen, and Walsh & Forster Construction. Their most notable piece of work is the East End Lofts at 16th and J which transformed the 80 year old former car dealership into a remarkable 4 story loft, office and retail project that a cornerstone in downtown. They are also currently bulding another mixed-use building next door with will hold 14 lofts, the HQ for O1 Communications, as well as Bistro 33 and a Deisgn within Reach (As seen on Trading Spaces) studio

Site 2 and 3 have been progressing, albeit slowly. I was able to attend a community meeting for these two sites. The plans called for 61 units, about 20,000- 21,000 square feet of retail. In back of one of the developments CADA is also building a ~176 car parking garage to help alleviate future parking problems. The two sites will also have about 8 for-sale 3-story townhouses that will be on the O Street side.

Tidbits I have heard is that originally they were going to keep the Antique Legacy building and just renovate it, but now I am hearding tearing it down and building space for a new 2 story lounge.


I'm glad to see that Loftworks is smart enough to see what young single professionals,(and that is who would be the likey renters of these lofts) want, because these lofts are going to be $$$ and these renters are going to want ammenities that come with city life along with city life rent. Great restaurants alone won't do it.

Link to renderings of Sites 2 and 3

The look of these buildings give Sacramento a funky and edgy loft district that is seen in many of the major cities accross the US, including SOMA in SF and SoHo in NY. Maybe we can change the name from EEG to ECap? or maybe the R Street area to SoCap? just kidding...

News regarding sites 1 and 4 have been far and few between. These two site will be for-sale condo's. Site 4 will be a 4 story building with 35 for sale units and 4200 square feet of retail facing 16th Street.

Site 1 is the more grand of the four sites. The plan here is a highrise of between 8-12 stories that will contain 130 for-sale units, and 6K Retail space. This site is on the same block as the East End Office Complex (I hate that building)

My feeling is that Lambert is somewhat worried about being able to sell it's product for a high enough price that is why they are slower than the other sites. Lambert should look at Sac Towers which sold for over $500 a square foot as an example of what can happen when marketed and designed properly

I feel these projects are going to create a lot of synergy, vibrancy and a really cool urban residential thoroughfare, with restaurants, shops, lofts, and lots of people on the street.

I think we have lots of really good places to go in downtown, but my beef with the city is that everything is so spread out. There are very few places where you can take a 5 or 6 block walk and be surrounded by multiple retail, restaurants and watering holes opportunities on every block. This four sites will fill in the gaps from 16th and P all the way down to the 16th and J East End Lofts

We need to play connect the dots in the this city. This is a great, great, great group of projects to accomplish that. From reliable source estimated ground breaking for sites 2 and 3 is Sept 2006. I have not heard anything regarding sites 1 and 4 unfortunately. My only beef with the projects CADA does is that is takes so damn long to get going. From the time of the RFQ to estimated groundbreaking it will be over 3 years. That is about a year too long in my book.

In the end though, these projects fit great with my moto of "Sacramento 2010, A New City"

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Capitol Grand Tower

Capitol Grand Tower
- 38 Stories
- 12th and J Street
- 200 Room Hotel
- 85 Condo's
- Resturant Space

Developer: Mo Mohanna, John Lambert
Architect: Jensen/Fey

Estimated Groundbreaking: Late 2005
Completion: Early-Mid 2007

The site of this project is the currently home to The Grand ballroom directly across the street from the Sheraton Grand. You may know one of the developers, Mo Mohanna, as one of the primary property owners on the blighted K Street Mall.

This project consists of a 200 room hotel, rumored to be a Hilton Garden Inn. I was glad to hear that it was going to be a Garden Inn for the reason that is would be nice for out-of-towers to have a less expensive option to choose from. The Hilton, Hyatt, and the hotel for 301 CM are a little on the more pricey side. This will give visitors a more affordable option when visiting Sacramento for business or pleasure.

The other piece of the project is 85 for-sale condos on the upper floors. Once again, this is what we need in downtown: housing, housing, housing!!

Considering the amount of the land they have to work with, the density for the project is great. This site sits on a 12,800 square foot parcel. That's TINY for a high-rise project. That about .30 of an acre. Talk about making the most with what you have. Just in terms of the housing that is 280 units per acre. That is up there with the density of The Towers. With the scarcity of land in our downtown, we need to make sure we get the most density out of as many of these housing projects.

There is just something about this building that when I look at it, it's very pleasing to the eye. I really like the style of this building how as you go further up the building the floor plates get smaller and smaller. I'm not sure if that is the color the building will be, but I like the way it looks in the rendering. As the old saying goes though, "If I could only live in a rendering" I'll be very interested to see what the finished product looks like

Problems I see with this project:
The only one I see is traffic circulation problems. Anyone who travels down J Street, you sometimes get caught in the stopping of cars that are pulling into the valet at the Sheraton. This tends to cause a little of a traffic jam in that section. I was able to attend the Environmental Impact Report meeting for this project and this very concern came up. From what it sounded like, the developers have a plan to place the hotel drop off point and residential parking off of J Street (The exact details escape me). If they can succeed with that, it will make passing through that area much easier.

Related Article:

Friday, July 22, 2005

Plaza Lofts

Plaza Lofts
J Street between 8th and 9th Street ("The Hole in the Ground")
225 Loft Units (40 Affordable Units)
21K Ground Floor Retail Space
Developer: CIM Group
Architect: LPA, Sacramento
Groundbreaking: Feb 2004
Completion: April 2006

The elegant story residential building is the real residential catalyst for downtown Sacramento. The site of this development is the infamous "hole in the ground" on J Street. For those who have been around Sacramento for a while know that this "hole in the ground" has been plaguing our central city for decades.

A little history behind this site starts around 1999 when developer Dean Ingemanson purchased roughly 1/2 of the site (other half was owned by the city) in bankruptcy court for roughly 2 million dollars and proposed building a 32 story mixed-use building that would be the new tallest in Sacramento. The building was called Metro Place

The building would have consisted of ground floor retail, office space that would be used by the City of Sacramento as it's administrative offices, and 114 apartments on the top 10 floors. This was the proposals city officials and downtown advocates had been waiting years for. Retail, office space and much needed housing all in one project. The project would have cost the city roughly 16 million dollars in redevelopment subsidy, loans and land. With the opportunity to finally get rid of the most blight part of downtown, the money was well worth it.

Problems arose over the next couple of years variety from:

- A downturn in the office leasing market. Even though Sacramento was experiencing one of the lowest vacancy percents in the nation, Sacramento was commonly lumped into the same bucket as San Francisco, which was experience tremendously high vacancy rates
- The sad passing away of Mayor Serna. Interim Mayor Jimmy Yee successfully lobbied to have the new office for Sacramento built behind City Hall
- Banks were very skeptical about do a loan for such a novel project for Sacramento, even though mixed-use was common in many other large cities
- City of Sacramento's planning and building departments were terribly slow in processing the application which cause the project to be approved during a lending slow down.

After years of trying to make the project work, realizing that Metro Place will not be able to get built, in 2002 the City of Sacramento struck a deal with CIM Group of Hollywood to develop the mixd-use project we see under construction today.

The development deal was agreed on with the same subsidy as what was available for Metro Place (~16M). The Ingemanson land was taken via eminate domain and give to CIM Group and construction began in Feb 2004 and will be completed sometime early in 2006.

My take on the project:
I think this is a great project for downtown. First and foremost, it gets rid of the more blighted part of downtown, second we finally get some downtown housing.

Many people I know do not like the project because they feel that is was a waste not to build a high-rise on that parcel. I disagree. Not everything has to be a high-rise to make our central city more livable and full of excitement. Plus, this building has a density of around 190 units per acre. That's just as dense as most high-risesYes, Metro Place would have been a nice building in our skyline, but this development give more of what we need downtown, housing!

This development has over 100 more units than the original Metro Place. That could mean as much as 150 more people to eat at restaurants, shop at the mall and give our streets life after 5pm and on weekends.

A design feature I like is the glass look of the building. This building will definitely light up this section of downtown with it's tall windows, openness, and light that will be projected from the units. One minor aspect that I REALLY like is that while the height doesn't matter, it's tall enough to cover up that ugly parking garage from the Renaissance Tower that faced J Street. From the construction picture below, you will be able to see what I am talking about. (Look at he back section of the building)