Monday, November 27, 2006

More Renderings of the Crystal Ice Project

In addition, the R Street Market Plaza will go down the middle of R Street starting at 16th and ending at the new Safeway to create a pedestrian plaza. That portion of the project is also in design right now.

The project total size is 186 housing units, 29K office, and 110K retail.

The project looks very cool in the rendering, but my concern is that like the East End Gateway where they shot for an extremely high quality of architecture, which this appears to be as well, the project wound up being axed due to being too expensive to build. I sure hope this project doesn't fall into the same bucket.

I have to imagine after having it happen to him once, Friedman has done some extra homework to ensure it doesn't.

This project has always ranked as one the projects out there that would have the biggest impact for the area, along with the JDV, The Towers, Cathedral Square, the canceled East End Gateway, and anything with the letter "K" in it. (The Greyhound would be in this bucket as well, but I think it's pretty clear that is staying for a while)

The retail space is being marketed by Retail West (click for marketing material and more renderings) out of San Francisco. So far the only tenants I know of is a La Bou Bakery in the old Orchard Supply that owner of La Bou, Trong Nguyen, owns and is part of the overall project.

If the project does go forward, one corner of the project that most likely won't be included at first is the one closest to 16th and Q. That parcel is owned by the Benvenutti family who at last report was not partaking in the overall project, even though the plans were down for all four corners. That could have changed in the past few months though.

Driving down 16th Street last week, I noticed there are signs "just what midtown has been waiting for" along 16th Street, with renderings of the project on the buildings themselves down 16th Street. I think he has been working on plans for about a year now, so he could be getting close.

From the renderings, the buildings themselves don't really seem to keep with the gritty industrial feel of R Street, but it could be just that the renderings are all glossed up and shiny looking for marketing purposes.

The potential finished project could though still maybe keep some industrial grit feel, which for this area might now be left only to include the street itself keeping the cobblestone and rail tracks once the Plaza is complete. Originally, the main existing Crystal building was to be kept, so it will be interesting to see how that works into the plans and renderings we see here, if it is still part of the plans.

We all know new developments can't really replicate the charactor of older building so keeping the buildings along R Street with the same character at Fox and Goose and "The Building" at 10th and R would be ideal. There are many other down R Street as well...minus the Buzz Boxes.

At first I thought keeping the CADA Warehouse in tack was a mistake given the extra cost and time of preserving, but I'm glad it went that route. I've come to really like that building and what it will do for the charactor of R Street.

GBD out of Portland are the architects on the project.


Anonymous said...

I was just walkin down that block the other day and was thinkin that they should be able to pull of the look and feel pretty easy . Its a great project and if it gets done correctly will be a major midtown catalyst (esp along R)for other projects ...

I hope like K st (7&800 blocks), there is a good mix of nationals and local biz thrown in , but by the looks of it theres room for all .

somwewhat unrelated , but hopefully the north side of S will follow suit esp between 21st and 24th.

LivingInUrbanSac said...

"I was just walkin down that block the other day and was thinkin that they should be able to pull of the look and feel pretty easy."

I hope you are right. Freidman knows what he is doing, so I have to imagine he will get it done right.

wburg said...

What locals will be left in the 700 K Street block? All of the local businesses on the block are going away (Joe Sun just got bought out and they aren't planning on staying, Records on K plans to move because they can't afford the higher rents in the new space, and the piercing studios and comic shop won't be staying because they're too "edgy") to be replaced by national chains. I suppose they'll just stick another Paragary restaurant in there and call that "local business." Speaking of which, we lost another local business this morning when a building in the path of the planned Saca tower on K and 8th burned.

The Crystal Ice plans are okay, I suppose. At least they seem to have adaptive reuse of part of the original structure in the plans, rather than just knocking it down and tearing it out. How much of the original structure will be left remains to be seen--so many other "adaptive reuse" projects are limited to facade retention that strip the heart and soul out of the building.

The track and cobblestones in the street probably won't stay either. ADA concerns mean that they'll have to put in regular sidewalks with curbs, and DOT is concerned that non-functioning bits of track in the street creates a safety hazard from being so close to functioning railroad tracks (RT light rail and the UP mainline)--people might assume that functioning train tracks are only there for atmosphere and get hit by a train. So we'll probably lose that too, and end up with a few chunks of track and a couple of cobblestones incorporated into a display to be stuck in a low-traffic area of the building, like the Coolot Building display in the 800 J Building.

LivingInUrbanSac said...

"The track and cobblestones in the street probably won't stay either. ADA concerns mean that they'll have to put in regular sidewalks with curbs"

Lovely...I had a feeling that might be the only part that stayed. Can't say I am suprised they might be gone though once ADA concerns gets involved.

For the 700 block, my feelings are know about Paragary. The rents I saw on the city staff report were $1.70 - $2, that's not bad, esp given other rents around in newer projects. I would expect we will see a couple locals in that mix.

On another R Street note, I saw recently they are doing work at 1401 R Street converting the building to retail space and a few lofts above.

TowerDistrict said...

i thought the K Street building was empty? wasn't that Mountain Surf Shop long gone?

as for the Crystal Ice building, i couldn't possibly find anything wrong with that project. they're taking a derelict, contaminated warehouse and transforming it into housing, retail, restaurants, and public plaza space. ontop of that the developer has publically committed to obtaining U.S. Green Building Council certification for green and sustainable building. the new project will be, amongst other advanced features, using rainwater for landscaping and recycled cool air from the old bricks and concrete to air-condition the building.

using the old loading docks and keeping the cobbled street and rail has been the constant objective of the CADA R street urban design standards, so i can't imagine they're willing to scrap that plan. maybe i'm wrong but i would figure they would have thoroughly checked with the DOT and PUC before finalizing those guidelines.

Anonymous said...

"i thought the K Street building was empty? wasn't that Mountain Surf Shop long gone?"

I was under the same impression

LivingInUrbanSac said...

I know Casablanca is long gone, and I was pretty sure Mountain Surf Shop was as well.

wburg said...

Hm. Just goes to show I don't pay much attention to that particular building on K Street...I thought I saw some activity in the building recently.

The loading docks aren't going anywhere, but the streets will have to be more traditional sidewalk/curb arrangements rather than the planned broad sidewalk/gutter plan more similar to that seen near 8th-10th Street. The concerns about track in the street came from DOT, although CADA wants to figure out a way to keep the track in place. Hopefully they'll find some sort of compromise. I'm sure that the Crystal Ice project will be just fine, I just hope they rehabilitate rather than soft-demo some of the interior. While removing all the Vitamin A will be a big challenge, there is some neat woodwork in there and some opportunity for excellent adaptive reuse of industrial spaces. Due to the unkindness of history, and Buzz Oates' architectural legacy on R Street, there is a very, very limited stock of actual old warehouses (as opposed to new buildings that are supposed to mimic old warehouses) on R Street that can provide the sort of interesting grit that such projects will need once they're all spiffied up with condos and chain-retail.

As to K Street rents, supposedly the planned rents are triple the current rent amounts.

LivingInUrbanSac said...

Thanks for the excellent info, Wberg. I sure wish I could actually make it to CADA meeting to get this info..if that is where you do get the info. To me, keeping the loading docks is important. There are a couple other buildings that can be saved to keep the grit in the area, just not a lot of them.

I feel a picture post of these building coming in the near future....stay tuned

It doesn't suprise me the rents are increasing, triple sonds like a lot though. That would mean the rents were in the .60 - .70 a square foot range. That seems really low. I could be wrong though.

Compared to asking rents in newer builings or rehads, those run well over $2 and closer to $3 in some case, the 700 block s/could come in well below that.

TowerDistrict said...

though i'm sure there will be a chain retailer, and likely functioning as the anchor tenant in the crystal ice building, there will be more opportunity for local business after this projects is completed, than as it stands now. where i don't think the same is true for the 700 block of K street. the cleanup required on R street would be too much for any local scale retailer to bear alone.

GDB architects working on crystal ice were also involved in Portland in the Brewery Blocks development, which i haven't seen in person, but looks to be done very respectfully. the landscape architects involved will be Walker Macy who were also chosen for the Sacramento Riverfront masterplan.

wburg said...

I don't make it to CADA meetings but I'm on a hatful of mailing lists from signing up those little "sign in" sheets at past city events, and I was forwarded a copy of the letter from DOT a while back (hmmm, maybe it's still in my inbox somewhere.) I also saw a recent presentation by Todd Leon of CADA on the subject.

There will be a presentation on the state of R Street at the new PERS headquarters this Thursday night at 6:00. I'll try to dig up the details if anyone is interested.

LivingInUrbanSac said...

Yeah, I got got the letter for the R Street meeting as well. Unfortunately, I can't make it. I'll be working until God knows when that night being it's the last day of our quarter at work.

If any one does go, I'd love to hear details. Feel free to post them here.

Uneasy Rhetoric said...

The 16th and Q property is the old paint store, right? I noticed they recently repainted the rainbow poles outside -- my only request is that any change to that corner incorporate that little iconic bit of Midtown's past.

This project will be terrific for an area aching for improvement, but I have to admit I'm getting tired of the particular style of architecture involved. There's something vaguely institutional about it (which I suppose is fine given that the project is as much retail and office as anything) -- Fremont Mews and 800J suffer from the same problem. I don't know if its possible to make any mid-rise development not feel institutional at first, and maybe it won't once the street-level work is complete, but I have to wonder.

I heard rumblings that there might be someone to take over the East End Gateway project, but it might have been my own optimism...

LivingInUrbanSac said...

"The 16th and Q property is the old paint store, right?"

The corner I meant was that empty lot at 16th and R, closest to Q Street. So the North-East corner of 16th and R. Sorry about that...I didn't explain that very well.

I have been wondering what retail might move into that old paint store, as well as the Young's building as well.

"I heard rumblings that there might be someone to take over the East End Gateway project"

Oh please let that be the case. That project being canceled was the biggest diappointment for me so far.

I did see Sotiris Kolokotronis at the one meeting I was able to attend last month. It wouldn't surpise me at all to see him attempt to pick the project up.

Anonymous said...

WBURG has some old info. The City Dept of Transportation do have concerns over the tracks and cobbles that exist in front of Ice Blocks, however they are not the reason they would be removed. The tracks and cobbles are historic so they are not easy to dismiss because a few engineers think its a hazard.

The close proximity of the light rail and R St. tracks has never been an issue.

The tracks pose a problem for the design and cost of the project. The design issues relate to the elevation of the tracks, drainage, ADA accessiblity and safety, and the treatment of the historic tracks. If the tracks can be removed and then put back as a historic design element then that would the best solution. That solution however, impacts the cost of the project.

Making a display of the tracks and cobbles is not considered an oppropriate mitigation.

The goal is still to make this area a flat flush streetscape but ADA and CA building codes may prevent the concept from becoming a reality. That being said, if the design, maintenance, and programming for the street is done correctly they might be able to obtain the flush street concept.

wburg said...

anonymous: That's good to know...when I was walking by the Alkali Flat light rail station I noticed the "wide band of truncated cones" treatment, the one originally suggested for R Street, in use, which suggests that if it is in use in one place it might work in another. I'm rooting for preservation of the in-street track, I'm just a bit curmudgeony after seeing too many old things around town disappear.