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.

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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.

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