Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Cal Western Life building into a boutique hotel?

This is a really cool idea. For those that do not know this building it's the rustic colored building on the south west corner of 10th and J. It's Sacramento oldest or 2nd oldest high-rise (other one would be the Elks). Sacramento-based Rubicon Partners bought the building about a year or so ago and was planning on turning it into condo offices (for-sale office units)

I like this idea MUUUUUUUUCH better. Sacramento really needs a hotel in a historic building. Former hotels like The Senator Hotel and Travelers Building have amazing lobbies, but sadly were turned into office space. I hope one day they can be turned back into a hotel or housing.

Most major cities in the US have hotels like these, sadly Sacramento does not. I stayed at the Benson in Portland last year, which was a boutique hotel in one of there historic buildings. Great, great place. Absolutely beautiful. We need something like that here.

I'm always for turning office space into housing and hotels that puts people on the street after 5. Even better is that they can move ASAP and be open next year

The project would require about 15M is subsidy. Sounds like support is definitely there for the project, but the money always make people take a step back and think.

I say go for it...

Bob Shallit: Plans for boutique hotel downtown pique interest
By Bob Shallit -- Bee ColumnistPublished 2:15 am PST Wednesday, February 8, 2006

A San Francisco operator of deluxe boutique hotels is proposing converting a historic downtown office tower into a destination inn with 200 rooms, meeting space and fine dining.

The proposal from Joie de Vivre Hospitality has just surfaced and will be considered - on an expedited basis - at next Tuesday's Sacramento City Council meeting. If there's support - and a willingness to provide a substantial subsidy - conversion of the classically styled 14-story Cal Western Life A San Francisco company has plans to turn the Cal Western Life building at 926 J St. into a hotel.

"They've brought the concept to us and need feedback quickly on whether to pursue this option," said city senior project manager Traci Michel, referring to the building's owner, Sacramento-based Rubicon Partners.

Without city support, the owners probably will pursue plans to put office condos in the 82-old building, she says.

Initial reactions from city officials were positive Tuesday. The project could become what the Hotel Del Coronado is for San Diego or The Benson for Portland - a destination hotel that brings people to the city, generating occupancy taxes and customers for downtown shops and restaurants.

"You couldn't pick a better location for a boutique hotel," said Councilman Ray Tretheway, whose district includes downtown.Mayor Heather Fargo said she's long wanted the "charm" of a boutique hotel in Sacramento. "To take one of our most treasured historic buildings and (allow) people to go in the lobby and see the marble and a piece of history, that's intriguing to me," she said.

But should the city spend as much as $15 million in public funds to make that happen? "The money part is a little intimidating," Fargo said.

The proposed project is not on a blighted corner. Funding it would mean not funding something else. Still, the mayor said, it would establish the kind of venue Sacramento doesn't yet have "and it's something this city should have."

Rubicon acquired the building last year and looked at several use options. Then the offer came in from Joie de Vivre.

Rubicon principal Kipp Blewett declined to discuss the specifics of the proposal. But he confirmed Rubicon has received a proposal "and we are considering it."

Joie de Vivre was founded in the late 1980s by Chip Conley and now operates 28 hotels, all but one in Northern California. The exception is the newly opened Hotel Angelino in Brentwood. Its newest San Francisco property is the Hotel Vitali, a 200-room hotel near the Embarcadero. Building at 926 J could begin immediately and be open for business by the end of next year.


Uneasy Rhetoric said...

That would be interesting. I'm not hot on the subsidy - $15mill is a bunch of money diverted from other needs and, while I know Rubicon would love to fill the space quickly, I'm still pretty sure they'd be able to find tenants for the offices.

Still, if there's a direct revenue relationship (occupancy taxes), maybe the subsidy wouldn't be so bad.

Can't wait to find out what the Coucil decides.

Matt said...

What a neat project. I'm curious though, why do they need $15M? What would it subsidize?

LivingInUrbanSac said...

"I'm curious though, why do they need $15M? What would it subsidize?"

That's the 15M dollar question. I'm sure we'll hear much more about it next week. My guess is seismic work would be a major use of that money.

From what I have read in other cities, hotels are very hard to pencil out without public money, unless you have something to offset the costs (i.e. condos) I'm sure the council/staff will ask what the money would be for

As you said UR, occupancy taxes would bring revenue, as well as more hotel rooms to book more/bigger conventions which bring more tax from restaurants and shopping..ect ect

Uneasy Rhetoric said...

Ew yeah, I'm almost positive that building needs some serious seismic work. Probably need to replace the elevators too. They're just as scary as the ones in the Elks Building were.

LivingInUrbanSac said...

Staff report is up:

Sounds like they want to at least negotiate with Rubicon

Page 4 discuses the use for the 15M. To my suprise, seismic is not on the list.

Project Benefits are listed as:
- 1M in TOT Yearly
- 630K Property Tax Yearly
- 230 New Jobs between hotel and retail

For 15M, those benifits do seem pretty nice, esp when including the 230 new jobs.

While I LOVE the idea of this project, my only concern with the 15M is that it takes away from something else getting funded.

20M is already going to 700/800 block of K Street. (very well spent) That's 1/4 of the 100M for ST. With this project, 35M gone, 65M to go.

And who said 100 Million is a lot of money?

I really wish I knew what else was out there vying for the 100M so to better weigh the benefit of this project over others

LivingInUrbanSac said...

The council meeting went well last night. I think everyone was onboard and wanted to find a way to make this work.

The two ground floor restaurants that I show mentioned were:

Sullivan's Steak,Martini and Jazz Club
Left Bank

Anonymous said...

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