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: