Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Interesting Infill Project

This project is at the corner of 16th and H where that big empty lot across the street from the Governors Mansion.

Looks like thedevelopment is for 48 condo units (109 Dwelling Units per Acre), which is pretty dense, and it will continue development along what I think will be a great walkable 16th Street.

The kicker is, the units are going to be really small.

Planning Commission Staff Report

Loft Square Footage and Unit #
416 sf - 1 Unit
449 sf - 3 Units
487 sf - 3 Units
497 sf - 3 Units
579 sf - 3 Units
589 sf - 3 Units
599 sf - 9 Units
607 sf - 3 Units
633 sf - 3 Units
640 sf - 9 Units
762 sf - 3 Units
1,151 sf - 3 Units

My buddy (and his gf ) who lives in Manhattan has a small loft like this. Its less than 500 feet, with an alcove toward the ceiling where his bed is, small kitchen, small bathroom, and enough room for a TV, small sofa, table, and cabinet for clothes.

Granted he goes out quite a bit, but I could see a single person making this work if they don't mind the small living quarters and can live without much cluter. Now I know in Sacramento this is hardly the norm when it comes to housing, but for people in other large cities in the US, and the world, these type of housing units are common.

This obviously isn't the answer for family housing and is definitely not for everyone, but for someone young, single with not a ton of money to start with who wants to own a place downtown and goes out a lot, this could work if they understand what they are getting.

Does it have legs here in Sacramento? I've thought a development like this could work, so I guess I'll find out.

I am curious about price though. Let's say they are $400 a square foot, that's 160K-250K for most units. Would a developer ask more than that though? I am going to assume since the units are small, there is a lot of space in the building that can't be sold thus maybe a need for a higher square footage price.


Anonymous said...

Usually the smaller the unit is, the higher the price per square foot. Probably going to be more like $600/sf

Maya said...

They have mini-condos like this in Belltown in Seattle, I think they may be a little bit smaller. Some folks seem to enjoy them. And for the rents in that area, I think the prices are fairly reasonable (around the range that you mentioned).

Also, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan (of and his wife Sarah live in a teensy place in NYC (Brooklyn, I think) with their new baby. I think the place is like 265 sq ft. But their rent is only $780 a month, which is insanely low.

I'd like to buy a teensy place, but only if it were priced reasonably, which urban economics suggests, as your previous commenter alluded, that price per square foot increases as living space decreases. Thus, the function is not linear. Sigh.

dan said...

"Loft" gives illusions of living in an UNDIFFERENTIATED LARGE high ceiling space in the upper floors of an industrial or warehouse building, with large industrial windows, heavy timber, masonry or concrete construction, where one arrives at their floor by the old fashioned elevator industrial elevator with the pull-up wooden slat door, typical of Artists Studios in NY City, LA or SOMA.

What we have in Sacramento is the bastardization of the term so now it can mean three story town homes or miserable little SRO spaces accessed by mean and shabby double loaded corridors.

You sure ain't gonna be Picasso or even Tom "Painter of Light" Kincaide, LOL, in these spaces!

Who knows, as PT Barnum said..."there's a sucker born...."

LivingInUrbanSac said...

We do see the term "loft" used loosely here in Sac, but every other city in the US uses same loosely used loft term. It's a cultural urban living fad right now.

Even in the cities you mentioned that have real lofts, there are many other projects that bill the units as lofts when they really aren't. It's not unique to Sacramento

The only true loft project I see right now is Capitol Lofts, where they are taking the old CADA warehousing on R Street and turning into, dare I say, lofts.

The other loft projects have the higher ceilings, some exposed materials. and more wide open layouts that are associated with lofts, but that is it.

kit said...

That's very very interesting. If their goal is building affordable housing in Sacarmento that they can still make a profit at, I hugely in favor of it.

If they think they can rip people off with inflated prices for a virtual closet, I am hugely against it.

wburg said...

"Affordable housing" is always a matter of perspective, though: even a $160,000 unit would run around $800-1000 a month for mortgage payment, plus maybe about $300 for HOA fees. That's an affordable range (about 1/3 of income) for someone making $40K-50K a year (current "low-income" threshold for Sacramento County is $36,600 a year.)

The whole "Urban Loft Living" set of catchphrases is already getting tiresome: the marketing is aimed at suggesting a sort of edgy urban artist lifestyle but without the draftiness, squalor, affordability, or, well, art.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I am also getting a bit skeptical about this loft thing too. Without sounding too cynical, this "modern living" approach to midtown/downtown sounds fishy, since it really isn't well tested in this market. We have tons of condo space being built right now, but how many of the completed projects are even filled yet?
Remember, builders have sold many of us on "open floorplans", which to me means "we don't wanna spend the money to build walls."
Also, Manhattanites can enjoy this low square footage lifestyle, since they spend so much time outside their house. Midtown Sac is not Midtown Manhattan.

kit said...

Ok, so Midtown Sacramento is not Midtown Manhattan, but you can't buy a shoe box in Manhattan for $160K.

TowerDistrict said...

well no matter your perspective, the bottom line is that 8 of the 48 units will be made available to low-income buyers, with an additional 2 for extremely low-income (under $17,000).

i don't get this view of developers "selling us" on loft living. it's their land and their product, and your money and your call. if you don't like loft-style housing, then it's simply not for you - maybe you'd prefer a townhome? try washington park on D & 17th, or the brownstones on U & 21st, or Trammel Crow's project on S & Alhambra.

fact is, right now, if you're looking for a studio unit in the middle of midtown, you're out of luck... well, with the exception of this project anyway.

units like these would get snatched up for twice the price in San Francisco, and there is more going on in the vicinity of 16th & H than in many neighborhoods in SF. you don't have fancy yourself an edgy urban artist to enjoy living there.

wburg said...

towerdistrict: 8 units LI/VLI plus 2 units ULI? Outstanding! That alone makes it very different from a lot of the projects coming through the pipe: pretty much none of the condo projects coming through have ANY low-income components (urban infill projects don't have to have a low-income segment.)

As far as how well urban living "tests," quite frankly it has a long history: downtown Sacramento has been a draw for the local counterculture kids for the past few decades. Traditionally, the model was that they'd move from the suburbs to downtown, and then they would either move to the Bay Area or they'd have kids and move back to the suburbs, and be replaced by a new batch of kids with blue hair. This cycle occurs because (a) downtown has more nightlife than the suburbs, but not as much as the bay area, and (b) downtown has had a shortage of reasonably-priced housing and decent schools for a long time. An influx of new ownership units and affordable housing could change (b) (since increased property tax would help fund downtown schools) and more long-term hipster presence and Sacramento's always nascent just-below-the-surface hipness would be well activated by more places for consumers of nightlife services (music and booze, basically) to live.

Trammell Crow's project is not townhomes, it is closer to the "urban loft living" model--strictly 1 and 2 bedroom units, four and five stories high. If they had gone for a townhome model, more like the Washington Park or 21st Street townhomes, they probably wouldn't have run into so much neighborhood opposition.

towerdistrict said...

oops - i guess i'm reading it wrong then.. why is urban-infill not subject to affordable housing laws? i had just punched up numbers going of the mandatory 15% for low and 3% extremely low. my mistake.

also, doesn't the Trammel Crow project plan for two-story townhomes lining the S treet side? i thought that was at least the attempt to better integrate itself in the neighborhood?

wburg said...

Because that's the city policy: Infill condo projects in the central city do not need to provide any low-income (LI, VLI or ELI) units. There won't be any in the Trammell Crow project, the 21st and T project, or at any of the other downtown condominium projects I have seen. I didn't see any mention of low-income units in the staff report for this project, and normally such things are highlighted or at least mentioned--so it's pretty safe to assume they aren't in this project.

Re the TCR project: No, there are no townhomes. The two big buildings facing S Street will be four stories tall, sloping down to two stories at the street level with a two-story mansard roof and a clerestory window at the top. The units inside will be single-floor apartment type units. The parking is all in a single parking structure backing up onto R Street. The big buildings will feature vaguely Craftsman-esque features, and are sort of designed to look something like disproportionately large townhome type structures. That's their plan to better integrate themselves into the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

"i don't get this view of developers "selling us" on loft living. it's their land and their product, and your money and your call."

OK, I guess so...whatever. My point is that the speed at which these things are being built is not commensurate with the speed at which people are moving into the downtown-midtown area. While the number of people living in downtown Sac is supposed to increase by 4000 by 2010, this is almost matched, person-for-person with the number of housing units planned.

This is the same Sacramento that's having trouble getting the Towers filled, right? The same one that hasn't broken ground on Aura, but already wants to build Epic? The one that has most of 800J sitting vacant and with lofts opening at 1801L, the Cathedral,etc.?

My point was the flipside of yours. You're right; not everyone wants an edgy loft with IKEA furniture in it. And I very much like the idea of townhouses, etc. But the mantra of current development is "mixed-use" and "condo", with Sac having nothing near the history with these sorts of arrangements that other larger cities have.

I don't think that there's anything wrong with asking the question: did developers get wrapped up in the ethos of the skyrocketing market and population in Sac and develop too much in downtown? And are they doing the right mix (see earlier post about Portland)?

LivingInUrbanSac said...

"We have tons of condo space being built right now, but how many of the completed projects are even filled yet?"

There are no new condo projects completed yet (unless you include 500N Street). The closest to being finished is the Marriot's 30 condos.

If you are maybe including rentals are well, The high profile ones, O1 Lofts at 16th and K was almost leased out when I first looked quite a few months ago. 1801 L is leasing very well. 21st and L was nearly leased out. Aftter a slower start, Fremont Mews picked up a lot of steam. The one that has stuggled last I heard was 800 J Lofts, whcih doesn't suprise me at this point.

"This is the same Sacramento that's having trouble getting the Towers filled, right?"

I still don't see how having nearly 1/2 the building filled with still 2 year or so until the project is done has having problems, other than budget problems.

"did developers get wrapped up in the ethos of the skyrocketing market and population in Sac and develop too much in downtown?"

Yes, I think developers are caught up in the resent boom downtown, but have they built too much? Considering the only until for sale units are the close to being done are the Marriot and L Street Lofts..No. The better question I think is..Have they proposed too much in total? Yes.

That's okay though, proposing something doesn't do anything, it's the ones that get funding and built that will get the buyer out there. The rest will come at a later time, or be canceled.

We all know that not all these projects will get built and I personaly will be shocked if we see Epic and Capitol Grand built.

I think we sill see the more down to earth proposals come to fruition over the next years. They won't, and don't have to be built all in the next year or two.

"and are they doing the right mix (see earlier post about Portland)?"

I would personally like to see more townhouses in the mix as well. You probably won't see too many, if any, built in the CBD given land prices, but I think midtown could be a place where we could see more in the right locations. The East End Gateway (sites 2 and 3), I thought had a great plan. Apartments, condos, and retail fronting 16th, and brownstones on O Street. Too bad...

LivingInUrbanSac said...

TD - I don't think there are any units set aside for low income. Unless you are referring to the income level that would qualify for the pricing of the units as being in the LI and VLI level

Anonymous said...

Hey thanks for the on this project. It looks great. For some reason I thought it was an old advert for the already built K/16th Lofts down the street. I'll be glad to see site filled in as it is across the street from the Old Gov. House.

Olddragon said...

Do you know what application was used to make the HDR photos?

Richard Paine