Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cathedral Square Building

Cathedral Square Building
11th and J Street
Developer: St Anton / Cordano Company
Architect: Kwan Henmi Architecture/Planning
26 Stories, 233 Units, 15K Retail

I have been waiting for this one for LONG time. The area of this project covers the Mother India Restaurant down to the burnt Copenhagen Building. This stretch is one of the most beat down parts of downtown. The sheer amount of blight it gets rid of, while replacing it with vibrant retail and housing makes this project pretty damn important.

This one was literally first high-rise condo project that we heard about back in Oct 2004 when the condo fever began. It got buried in the background because The Towers then Aura come out in the news a couple weeks later. Plus, they have progressed much slower than the others for whatever reason.

From the information I got, we should see it in design review very soon. Environmental is almost wrapped up and they are proceeding with the development.

Looks like the main part of the building is going to be on the 11st Street side with J Street being used for loading, with some commercial space. The condo entrance is on 11th Street. I'm not big on the loading dock being on J Street therefore cuting out vibrant commerical space, but it's a minor complaint. This should really help connect the eastern part of J Street all the way to 800 J Lofts, esp with Joie Di Vive on the way

Original article from 2004

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The R Street Market Pedestrian Walkway and Plaza

In my last blog, I mentioned how I would like to see the portion of R Street between 16th and 18th become a pedestrian haven for festivals, walking, outdoor eating, street venders and markets.

Ask you and shall receive. After goggling around for R Street info I stumbled onto this:

The R Street Market Pedestrian Walkway and Plaza

The plan is to turn that very section into exactly what I hoped it would become. The firepower behind the project seems pretty good. CADA, City of Sacramento, SACOG, Parks Department, Dept of Transportation, and the property owners in the area including Mark Freidman and Paul Petrovich.

I hope they don't all trip on themselves. The time line looks as if they want to complete the project by the end of 2009. The page 3 rendering looks great.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Pearl of California - R Street Corridor

For 20 years Sacramento city planners, historians, and preservationists have dreamed of Sacramento old industrial belt resurrecting itself much like the famed Pearl Distract in Portland. Like many other central city dreams, it has been slow to materialize...but like many of the other central city dreams has also recently started to come to life

R Street is heavily contaminated from decades of rail travel and the uses that most of the building were for back in the days. The clean up for most of these sites, esp when being redeveloped for residential, is unfortunately a LONG and $$$$ process. Plus lack of adequate sidewalks, sewers and other necessities which is more $$$

The R Street Corridor technically includes Q and S Street, where there has been some traction gained with Fremont Mews, Capitol Park Homes, 1500 Q Street, and a couple other small projects.

The Foundry Building which holds the Fox and Goose, Art Foundry, and the cool knitting shop my wife likes was one of the first to get a face lift. More recently the R Street Market and the renovation of the Perfection Bakery at 15th and R into the Icon, Empire, and La Raza Art Gallery.

In all, not too much progress in 20 years, but the outlook for the next couple of years does look MUCH more promising.

My hope is R Street can achieve a completely different setting than the rest of the central city, and Sacramento in general. I'd also like to see the entire street give way to people walking with cars playing second fiddle. The section between 16th and 19th be closed off to traffic for public space for the events I hit below.

While I am not a preservation crazy person, I do hope the R Street warehouse feel can be preserved while still creating a thriving environment that is unique to Sacramento, and not only become 'The Pearl of California'

There are a couple good spots to go on R Street, but we really need to fill in the gaps between 10th (Fox and Goose) and the 15th (Empire complex), fix up the 13th and 16th Street stations and clean up the streetscape so people feel comfortable walking down at night, or even during the day for that matter.

While there are many more opportunities out there for development, i.e. the parking lot across from Fox and Goose, here is a rundown of what we can expect in the next couple of years.

Capitol Lofts - AKA CADA Warehouse
R and 11th - 12th Street
-122 For-Sale Loft Units, Live/Work Units with Ground Floor Retail
7-8 years in the making, crews are now on site and have begun work on turning the old warehouse into R Streets first major housing venture.

1409 R Street
This is a newer one that is going through the city planning process.
-R Street Mixed Use, located at 1409 R Street (Next door to the Empire Complex)
Entitlements to change an existing nonconforming use and structure to a nonconforming mixed use project containing 12,245 square feet of ground floor retail space and six residential units with 13 parking spaces on 0.43± acres in the Residential Mixed Use R Street Corridor

Crystal Ice Building and Orchard Supply
16th - 18th and R Street
-Mark Freidman has purchased the Crystal Ice Buildings and Nguyen of the La Bou franchise has purchased the Orchard Supply Building. Unfortunately, due to what I am sure if very high contamination, I do not expect any housing to be built on these sites. Strictly retail and dinning.

Edit: I stand corrected, last update is that the site can hold about 141 housing units and 120K in retail and commerical space

I have very high hopes for that area around the Crystal Ice and Orchard Supply Building. I think that area will make an amazing public space with outdoor eating, street fairs, farmers markets, flea markets, and street performances. Given that Freidman is involved, I expect nothing but the best. The guys from Loftworks are putting some very good urban products out there.

West End Garage

North Side R Street between 8th and 9th
-As part of the West End Office project, the state will also be construction a parking garage on R Street between 8th and 9th. During the R Street meetings I attended, everyone fought very hard to have housing and retail wrap the structure. Without the housing and retail, you could have kissed that block of R Street away to a total dead spot. From what I have seen, it seems to be a sure thing that AT LEAST ground floor retail will be included, and a good chance some housing will also be in the mix

CalPERS and Regis Homes
R Street between 2nd and 7th Street
-CalPERS and Regis Homes have securred virtually every parcel on R Street between 2rd and 7th Street with plans of buildings hundreds of new homes. The first pahse is the 36 unit SoCap Lofts between 6th and 7th Street on the north side of R Street. The next phase should be SoCap Lofts II , 36 more units on the south side of the 6th / 7th Street block. I have also seen renderings for a 5 story apartment project on R and 5thish' Street that is a year or so away.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

HUGE Week for Downtown Sacramento

-The Towers secures its equity partner, and boy did he get the best. A few others and I on SSP have long suspected that CalPERS would step up and back Saca on this. They have been long time backers of urban development so this is a natural fit for them.

There were comments in the business journal yesterday how Saca had banks calling him once the announcement was made.

Congratulations John Saca. You’re the man.

-Aura begins taking non-refundable depostis, early reports sound like by weeks end they could be sold out.

- The Parthenon gets redesigned to a much better suited look. Capitol Mall is going to be hooping within a year.

-The East End Gateway annouces it will breakground in July on sites 2 and 3 at 16th and O St, helping turn 16th Street into a thriving urban living and commerical street from 16th and J down to R Street

In all, 804 units at the Towers ( This number is always changing so who knows), 265 at Aura, , and a cool 53 at the EEG, along about 110K in retail space will break ground within months.

- Work has started on L Street Lofts at 18th and L

News like this can't help but brighten the fortunes of other lesser known, but still important projects in the pipeline. The foreseeable success of these projects will help convince lenders that Sacramento is fully ready to embark on its downtown renaissance.

Next on the road map: K Street Mall

Bring on the cranes!!___________________________________________________________________

CalPERS to back high-rise project
By Gilbert Chan -- Bee Staff Writer Published 2:15 am PDT Saturday, April 8, 2006

Developer John Saca's long hunt for a deep-pocket partner ended Friday, as he signed on an investor headquartered three short blocks from his ambitious $500 million downtown Sacramento high-rise project.

In a major coup, Saca signed a $100 million deal with the giant California Public Employees' Retirement System to invest in the Towers on Capitol Mall, a massive twin-towered, 804-unit luxury condominium and hotel complex that would dramatically reshape the city skyline and be the tallest residential structure on the West Coast.

CalPERS' investment paves the way for Saca to line up a construction lender and break ground in the next 60 days. He will start asking people who put down $10,000 refundable deposits to make a firm commitment.

We'll start converting people early next week," Saca said. "We sent documents to them a month ago to give them time to digest this. We're inviting them to come on in, spend two or three hours with our sales staff and go over the details."

The pact answers skeptics who have questioned whether the suburban shopping center developer could secure the financing for a sprawling, 2.1 million-square-foot development at Third Street and Capitol Mall, site of the former Sacramento Union newspaper building.

"This is huge. People were saying no way it will ever work. CalPERS makes this a done deal. It got rid of all of the uncertainty," said Saca, in an earlier interview.

Click link above to read more:

Condos' can-do spirit

Developer of luxury high-rise converts deposits to down payments.

By Jon Ortiz -- Bee Staff Writer Published 2:15 am PDT Saturday, April 8, 2006

Five leggy models in form-flattering black gowns, valet parking, $2,500 caviar, Dom Perignon and a string quartet.

Sure, developer Craig Nassi knows how to party, but the question remains: Can he sell out Aura, the high-end condominium tower he has planned for downtown Sacramento?
Nassi's answer during Aura's grand-opening bash on Friday: "We'll be 100 percent sold by 6 p.m. on Sunday."

Other developers, civic leaders and business owners are closely watching what's going on at the invitation-only party under the pleated tent at Sixth Street and Capitol Mall. Nassi plans to build the 265-unit Aura at the site, and through Sunday he's hosting a $250,000 shindig there to woo potential buyers to spend up to $1.26 million for a piece of Sacramento's skyline.

Other developers, civic leaders and business owners are closely watching what's going on at the invitation-only party under the pleated tent at Sixth Street and Capitol Mall. Nassi plans to build the 265-unit Aura at the site, and through Sunday he's hosting a $250,000 shindig there to woo potential buyers to spend up to $1.26 million for a piece of Sacramento's skyline.

Click to read more:


Architects abundant on 16th Street project

By Bob Shallit -- Bee Columnist Published 2:15 am PST Saturday, April 1, 2006

Too many chefs? Never a good idea. But an abundance of architects? That's the perfect recipe for a team of developers planning an eye-popping retail and housing complex along the suddenly hot 16th Street corridor.

Four architects from three firms in Portland and Sacramento have been working on different pieces of the project, which will occupy facing parcels on the southwest and northwest corners of 16th and O streets.

The goal: "Different points of view that clearly relate but are clearly different," says Mark Friedman, a partner with Loftworks, a Sacramento development firm that is joint venturing the project with the Capitol Area Development Authority.

Friedman's company - which built the office-and-loft complex anchored by Mikuni and P.F. Chang's restaurants at 16th and J - has been designing this project with CADA for three years.
The result is an ultra-modern complex with random window patterns, a decorative rusted wall, zinc-colored panels and a concrete base that wraps around one of the buildings like a thermal sleeve on a coffee cup.

The building on the southwest site - called So'O, because it's south of O - will have 21 loft condos in the $280,000 to $450,000 price range, five three-story town homes and a restaurant, all wrapped around a 130-space parking garage.

The building north of O - yes, it's called No'O - will have 32 apartments, with rents ranging from $1,200 to $2,000, along with three town homes and ground-floor retail.
Construction is set to begin in July. It should be completed in early 2008, says CADA exec Paul Schmidt.

Friedman says the project will stand out because it'll have fewer residential units than other downtown projects. Also because of its varied architectural elements. "The design speaks for itself," he says.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Down with the Parthenon!!!

MUCH MUCH better!

I really dig the blue glass, and I'm so glad they are still going to keep the rooftop restaurant. Plus, it looks like there is going to be about 15K is ground floor retail, which will help Capitol Mall keep a good street scene.

If all goes as planned, we can have 5 new high-rises (Counting the The Towers as 2) on Capitol Mall under construction by next year that will hopefully add over 650K is office space, over 120K in new retail and restaurant space, 200 hotel rooms, gym, day spa, and most important over 1100 new housing units to Capitol Mall that could equate to over 1500 new residence. Those numbers can't help but put a MAJOR spark plug into Sacramento's premier address strip.

Plan for Parthenon crumbles

High-rise office building proposed for Capitol Mall won't be capped by a tribute to Greece after all.
By Mary Lynne Vellinga -- Bee Staff Writer, April 6, 2006

Downtown Sacramento's skyline won't sprout a replica of the Parthenon after all.Developer Angelo G. Tsakopoulos last week submitted a revised application to the city for a high-rise office building at 500 Capitol Mall. It eliminates the Parthenon look-alike that Tsakopoulos and his father, George, previously had proposed to cap a 31-story tower.

The plan now is for a 25-story granite and glass building topped by a two-story penthouse with a soaring, triangular glass skylight.

When he announced his Parthenon plan last year, Tsakopoulos, nephew of Angelo K. Tsakopoulos, the region's largest developer, said it would honor his family's Greek forebears. Both his father and his uncle emigrated from Greece.

But the idea of replicating an ancient Athenian temple on top of an otherwise spare, modern office tower caused considerable consternation in Sacramento design circles. Tsakopoulos pulled the previous application while it was awaiting consideration by the city's Design Review and Preservation Board.

"We're happy," said Robert Chase, an architect who sits on the city's design review panel. "Since it's gone away, we'll let it lie in peace. It did not seem appropriate, and I don't think anyone in the design community was anxious to see it happen."

Gregory Thatch, a lawyer representing Tsakopoulos, said the developer did not change his design because of controversy over the Parthenon replica. It was, he said, a simple matter of economics. (Sure it didn't)

"The way the other building was designed, you didn't have the size of suites that really fit the market," Thatch said. "The other building design ended up with floor plates that were either too small or too big."

Chase said he welcomes the revision.

"From what I've seen briefly, it could be a very good addition and very appropriate to the Capitol Mall," he said of the new renderings.

Luis Sanchez, the city's design review director, agreed.

"It's a more conventional design for an office building that we think generally will fit in well," Sanchez said.

The building is designed by architect Edwin Kado, who also designed the ziggurat building in West Sacramento. Thatch said the two-story penthouse suite could potentially house a restaurant.

If approved by the city, 500 Capitol Mall could be built relatively quickly, said local commercial real estate brokers.

Unlike many other developers, including David Taylor, whose office building at 621 Capitol Mall is now under construction, Tsakopoulos has said the family doesn't need to line up tenants before it breaks ground.

The construction cost is pegged at $115 million.

"This is a family-driven project, and they will substantially finance it out of their own assets," Thatch said. "We are very hopeful we'll be through the entitlement process by sometime in the fall of this year. Construction would start shortly thereafter."

John Frisch, senior vice president of Cornish & Carey, said the office market downtown is relatively strong and can likely absorb another tower.

"There's a market for it, and it's a lot easier to lease something when it's under construction or when it's complete than when it's a set of plans," he said.

The profile of Capitol Mall, unchanged since the construction of the Wells Fargo tower in the early 1990s, is poised to undergo a major transformation.

The first new arrival will be Taylor's 621 Capitol Mall, slated for completion in spring of 2008. It replaces a parking lot once operated by the city of Sacramento.

Tsakopoulos' planned building at 500 Capitol Mall would replace the old Wells Fargo headquarters vacated when the bank moved to its new tower. It has been vacant for years.

Two high-rise residential projects also are planned for the Capitol Mall.

One of them, developer Craig Nassi's Aura condominium tower, faces a key test this weekend when Nassi seeks to convert buyers' refundable deposits into nonrefundable down payments.