Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tower Records: RIP 1960 - 2006. Broadway Future?

Anyone that has grown up in Sacramento has a heavy heart over the lose of Tower Records. I have so many memories of getting all my music there as a kid.

Much like most people though, over the years, I bought most of my music at cheaper places. Unfortunately, Tower couldn't adjust to the new market to complete with lower priced outlets.

Now that the emotion of seeing Tower go under is slowly going away...what is now in store for Broadway? They just lost a major retail tenant on a street that has much potential.

What about a Tower Tower on the old Tower site? Just kidding...

Broadway has so many great things is can build on, tons of good ethnic food establishments, including some of my favorites, New Canton and Hoa Viet, Tower Theater (please get a face lift), Asian food market, some pedestrian food traffic, and light rail that drops you off right in the middle of everything...and Willies!

The problem I see with Broadway is the same one I see with downtown, some good stuff, but lots and lots of holes in between, and the need for housing directly on Broadway.

There are also so many buildings on Broadway that completely kill the streetscape, which include a lot of surface parking lots. You would need to tear them down in order to built quality urban mixed use products.

Like the rest of the central city, good infill developement could really benefit this area. Who is going to take a risk on being the pinoeer? It doesn't help that the city is focusing a lot of attention (as it should for right now) to downtown.

With a name like "Broadway", shouldn't we have more than one theatre on the strip?

What do you think could help Broadway?


Uneasy Rhetoric said...

Live theater? Oh perchance to dream!

Actually, how about a complex that reflects the garden seating at Tower Cafe across the street? It's the perfect location for another restaurant - but another theater would increase local foot traffic.

Oh, we'll probably get something cheezy in there like an antique mall or something...

LivingInUrbanSac said...

Theater would be nice, but considering how hard it's been for the city to rehab the current community center and the wavering back and forth on the plan for 10th and K (I hear it's back before the city council at the end of the month)...I wouldn't bet on it.

TowerDistrict said...

it's a bit ironic to me that the Land Park Community Association was quoted in the bee saying that they hoped for mixed-use with residential for the site. i think that would be great where the books and the movies were. but i'm not sure about the record shop on the corner. I know Riverside Clubhouse (same owners of Bistro 33) has had a TON of trouble with the Land Park neighborhood, and is only now being able to have live music or a DJ play after having their permittance revoked a while ago.

any thought on the future of the Tower locations assumes that the current buildings would be razed for new development, which is where i'm a bit confused/concerned. i read in the biz journal that tower does not own the building - that they were long term tennants. so really, the owners are not obligated to do anything with that land - where if the Great American aquired it, they would probably sell it off quick.

it makes me wonder who owns it and what kind of people they are. one thing is for sure - the LPCA is gonna be up their ass every step of the way.

Even John Saca had a hard time with them across the street.

Anonymous said...

I will also miss Tower but more tower books personally .

Your right about Broadway , it definitely has potential.

I think 1st up has to be housing , it has a great collection of very diverse food so maybe a little more retail would help as well .

With all those vacant lots there is plenty of room for some good infill / mixed use projects .

I wouldnt mind seeing theatre either , maybe some art galleries , (replacement) bookstores , a computer store , video store , etc.

There really is room for everything along Broadway . Should be interesting to see what develops

Levi said...

Do you guys think that residential could make it on Broadway?
We have looked at it several times for a possible residential project and every time come to the same conclusion. None of us would want to live right on Broadway.
I love that area and Vanessa who workes with me only lives a few blocks from there. (I am closer to J St) and loves it to.
I just cant seem to figure out what type of residential could make it... Maybe its just that there is not any already and someone needs to take the first step.

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

^TD, I don't know what you mean about Saca having problems with the LPCA. Tell us more- what happened?

TowerDistrict said...

the LPCA is very actively involved with the development process from the planning stages to the last bit of construction. They pour over blueprints and interject with their opinions on every minute detail. I don't think that's always bad, in fact it may help to produce a much better result - but i'm sure it's intimidating to developers and contractors.

the Walgreens/Starbucks/Jamba Juice site was deveoloped by Saca from a vacated McDonalds - who left after they were unable to get a drive through. I've heard the LPCA was all over the project and partly responsible for the project taking over 7 months to get approved. and that was an empty blighted former McDonald's site. not the local legends, Tower Records.

I'm glad the LPCA are so concerned, but i think sometimes they get a bit over zealous.

LivingInUrbanSac said...

Levi - I think it could work, and here is why.

First of all, I would target a completely different demographic than what other housing developments are doing in downtown and midtown. I would target the older Asian population of Sacramento, esp Chinese. Sacramento does have a large Asian population, people just don't notice it as much since we are so close to San Francisco (gee, that sounds familiar), who other than Hawaii has the most in the US % wise. Plus, we lack a real Chinatown where it hits you right in the face.

I tend to think Broadway could be something similar to Main St in Flushing (New York). I am married to a Chinese women so I can say this all this with some conviction after spending 10 years around her family from Sacramento, Bay Area and New York.

Whenever we go to Flushing, my wifes grandparents live about a 15-20 min walk from their favorites Chinese restaurants, and we always walk it....along with hundreds of others. That is the culture over there, and I think it could translate here as well in the right environment. There are some places that have potential, but aren't quite there yet. Taking a look at how well the Ping Yuen rented at I and 5th would be a good idea. I'm pretty sure all 82 are leased.

In my experience, older Chinese like to get around by walking and taking public transportation like buses (esp to casinos!!), which Broadway have quite a few routes from what I see. If you go down 16th Street around T, U, V, (I also think it would work well on 16th in that area) and toward some parts around 10th street where the old Asian neighborhoods are, you will always see people walking to and from the handful of Asian markets, video stores, and drink shops. They want to be close to markets to get the things they need.

On Broadway there are a lot of authentic restaurants, Chinese "themed" BofA, good size market, and a lot of room for other stuff. I could see it as a draw as is. Any project should include appropriate retail to bolster the areas draw. Study trips to Chinatown in NY or Flushing (SF one seems more touristy to me, but would still work) would be a good step. Something like a take out joint with ducks and cha sui hanging in the windows, or take out dim sum. Just look at how busy New Canton is for Dim Sum. There is a 30-45 min wait on most occasions (unless you know one of the owners :-) )

Also maybe a small place for fresh fish, meats and Asian vegetables...and somewhere to play Ma Jong (I'm half serious on that one)

The first thing I would probably want to do is hire an Asian leasing agent or broker to market the product (make sure he/she speaks Chinese). They would be able to give you outstanding input as to what would be best.

You need to make sure what ever it is, it's very authentic, otherwise it would do more harm that good. For example, every time my wife and I pass by PF Changs she always comments how it's "white people Chinese" and loves to point out how there are ZERO Chinese people eating in there, and she says it with some real anger in her voice. Ask any other Asian and you will get the same response. They are very proud of their culture, esp food, and to see it "white washed" makes them mad. Asian culture is VERY food driven. On a scale of 1-10 of importance to the culture, I would give it a 9, or maybe even higher.

I do think there is a market for this product on Broadway, how big the market is? (Isn't that always the question?) I'm not sure.

I'm not sure I would go out and build a 100 unit building, but I think taking an older building with 2 or 3 stories and doing some slight renovations (it def does not need to be a shining palace) into housing, or doing a smaller infil project, would be a good start to "test" the market and build from there, similar to the Elliot Building did at 16th and J. That took some stones from Loftworks, but they are reaping huge rewards from it now. The same could be for Broadway, but in a different way. I don't think the "hipster" scene would translate well onto Broadway. It wouldn't as be glamorous as doing the trendy mixed use loft development, but if the ultimate goal is to help Sacramento become more urban and pedestrain friendly(and make a little money at the same time), it would accomplish that.

I know that sounds all fine and dandy, but can it pencil out? I imagine land and buildings are much cheaper on Broadway than Midtown and Downtown right now. I don't think Broadway is a "redevelopment area", but maybe the city could help a pioneer out some way

I think I am going to try and take a trip to Broadway this weekend and snap some pictures of what I think would be opportunity sites.

Okay...I'm tired now.

TowerDistrict said...

In contrast, the south side of Broadway is predominantly white people. and the South side is a total mix of blacks, whites, some hispanic, and asians.

The neighborhoods have easy access to the freeway, tons of restaurants, theater, light rail, and is between Safeway, Taylor's, asian markets. the old land park neighborhood is one of the nicest places to walk a dog with the huge trees and extremely friendly residents. There's also lesser known treats like locally grown organic produce delivery program on Harkness & Burnett, a comedy improv spot on 1700 block of Broadway, bands play at Inferno Pizza, and the cafe on 16th is not starbucks and they let you know that upon entry. There was an art festival in the parking lot next to Wamu and Willie's which was cool. and the monthly antique festival under the freeway is fun.

I just think it's a perfect place to live - however, I can see it being tough to think of what type of housing would work directly on Broadway. if you built residential right on broadway, you would need to have some sort of retail on the ground floor. there's just so much foot traffic with all the other retail as well as the bus stops.

below are the spots i think would work best for residential:

1) 16th Street where the parking lot for Tower Record is now.

2) South side B'way where Tower Movies is now

3) South side B'way where the parking lot for New Edokko and Kathmandu Kitchen is. it maybe too small a lot - but the location is great for mixed-use.

4) North side B'way, the never-used parking lot for New Station Chinese restaurant (that place def ain't PF Changs. ever so there LIUS?)

5) North side of B'way where the bait rod and gun place is now. i don't have any idea why that place is even there. i've never seen a soul walk in or out of that place. what would it take to get rid of it?

6) farther down there's North-west and South-west sides of B'way and 21st street could be perfect areas for not only affordable housing, but transit-oriented development. It's a great spot but it would take some risk to develop. the northern curtis park neighborhood has been undergoing a lot of change in the past couple years.

those are just places right on Broadway that i can think of. i've spotted loads of perfect lots on the X street side too. I've actually seen a couple infill projects under construction around there. Could those be some of your projects?

LivingInUrbanSac said...

"the never-used parking lot for New Station Chinese restaurant (that place def ain't PF Changs. ever so there LIUS?)"

Yup, been there. Good stuff. I'll always go to New Canton first, but will go there everyone once in a while to change it up a bit.

SacForums said...

It's sad to see Tower go, but they've always had the highest prices on music. I've never once shopped there unless someone bought me a gift card, which didn't go very far...

Kim Scott said...

I lived in an artist studio at 32nd and Broadway for over 25 years. The street has seen changes, but in some ways has the same problems too. I think filling in the holes as you said is a good idea, and anything to make it pedestrian friendly is good, its a Looooong street, just try walking from Alhambra to the river. OUCH. How about a shuttle that goes down the street? better signage, greenscape, I think organizing and legitimizing the car culture activities there would be great. I just moved to Del Paso, starting over on another great Blvd. Now thats another story worth telling!