Thursday, October 26, 2006

10th and K will have live theatre.

It's official, 10th and K will have live theatre.

I received an email from Leslie Fritzsche, Downtown Development Director, today on the progress of 10th and K.

I have been bugging the hell out of her and the person in charge of the 700 block. I spent a lot of time at all the community meetings for JKL and felt strongly about live theatre at the 10th and K site, so I wanted to keep track of all progress.

There was a possibility that the city might want a mutiplex at that site, but looks like they went with the better option. I still would like to see a new mainstream theatre on K Street (7th above Hard Rock), but this location was much better suited for the performance space

10th and K Project Staff Report

There will be two parts to the project.

Part One: The old Woolworth Building will become a 200+ ( i was hoping for closer to 300) seat live theater performance space, a "signature" Paragary restaurant with second-level lounge/bar (open to public) and patio space overlooking K Street.

The live theatre venue will operate approximately 50 weeks a year with eight performances a week. (I assume more than 1 on weekends)

It says that this project could be completed in 20 months and open for business by early 2008. Good. I would like these projects to be done by the time the Joie de Vivre opens around the same time.

The cost in redevelopment funds for the theatre is 6.75M. There is interesting part of the deal though that was also part of the cities help for 800 J Lofts. The city will receive 50% of the profit above 10% on the project.

Part Two: A 14-Story 130 unit condo tower with ground floor retail where the Hit or Miss and RiteAid currently stand. This part looks like will follow after the theatre is complete. The good news is that CIM Group, who is part of the development team, finances their own projects, so there shouldn't be any financing problems or any presold number of units to be sold.

The condo project still needs to be hammered out, so there is no financial consideration yet. Looks like that part will be nailed down in the next few months, but the theatre is ready to go with approval.

Rendering of theatre and tower in the background:

I'm digging a big marquee on the 10th and K corner. While there is no design to see yet, it should compliment the Crest, Imax, Pyramid and Esquire ones nicely as long as they do it right.

Sacramento Streetcars

I love walking around downtown and midtown. I will take any opportunity to walk to where ever I go, but every once in a while, it sure would be nice to be able to jump on a streetcar and let it do the work for me.

About a year ago, Arranging Matches wrote about bringing Streetcars back in to Sacramento, for which I totally agreed with. I had just returned from Portland about a month earlier for the first time and was amazed at the system they had in place.

With the future increase in residence in the grid, we need to have a more efficient way to get people from place to place and keep them out of their car. The Nike Express, while my preferred method of transportation, sometime isn't very efficient when in a rush, or just plan tired. Light Rail can work at time, but not really for shorter distances

One thing they will need to accomplish is how to make it free within the central city, in Portland you can jump on and ride for free. Even if the cost would be a nominal $1, it would turn some people off to ridding.

Today's Sacramento Bee Article says the feasibility study will be done this upcoming spring time.

Key questions:
Where will the money come from? How about a combination of developers and the cities? Duh
Can the communities agree on the route and the stops? Probably not. Everyone from neighborhood associations, ADA, developers, property owners, business interests will have thier own view of where they should be.

While I am sure they can't do it all at once, and don't know what routes are feasible, I think attractive routes would be

-Capital Mall across the The Tower bridge into West Sac
-Down 16th Street
-Through R Street
- There needs to be some kind of route that takes people in the vicinity of JKL, not sure if there should be a route directly on one of those streets, or maybe a street over on maybe N or I street

This is the first community meeting I am aware of after the "Streetcar Summit" that was held at the Sheraton last year.

Monday, October 30, 2006
City Hall, City of West Sacramento
1110 West Capitol Avenue
West Sacramento, CA 956917:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m

I encourage anyone who has opinions on this topic to please attend.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The "Homeless Problem" in Downtown

This topic has really been on my mind a lot recently. Time and time again I hear and read people always saying "Oh I am so sick of always being hit up for change by homeless in downtown"

Am I the only one that it isn't as much of a nuisance as it is to some people? I mean, some people act and talk like they are chased for blocks and blocks scared for their lives from someone asking for change.

I have never, and I repeat NEVER been hassled by a homeless person outside of the following conversation:

Homeless Person "some spare change?"
Me: "Sorry"
....and I keep walking

End of conversation and interaction. It's really just become a reflex action to take a split second say sorry and carry on with my day. Yeah, it can be annoying at times, but so can those people at suburban strip mall asking for your signature on everything imaginable or someone asking you to donate what ever the cause of the day is...I simply say sorry 99% of the time, and carry on with my day.

I have never had anyone give me lip when I say no, anyone follow me, or feel like my life was in danger...and I am a 5"7' white guy. If they are going to mess with someone, they are going to mess with me.

I can spend hours in downtown and it might happen once or twice in an hour or two period, most of the time never. I really don't get it when people talk like they are being lynched by homeless people.

Also, I hope people realize that downtown area does not only encompass K Street Mall, which I think most people only consider downtown, and the immediate surrounding areas. I live around the Fremont Park neighborhood a handful of blocks outside of the central business district and I have NEVER been hit up by a panhandler around my house in the year and half I have lived there, and I have walked from bars and restaurants 10-15 blocks away at all hours of the day from morning time, afternoon, early evening, to 3 at night.

Yes, there are homeless in downtown, ALL cities have homeless in downtown areas. In fact, I think the ones in Sacramento are tame compared to other cities I have been to. The ones I and others I know have encountered in NY and SF will literally follow you yelling profanities at you on a rare occasion. Once again, I have never had this happen to me in Sacramento.

Now, until there are more people in the central business district area, this "problem" will always be there. If you are the only one walking on a block with 3 homeless people there, I can see how some people would be scared, but if you have 50 people walking on that block with the same 3 homeless people, they blend right in barely noticed.

If you go to the 18th and Capitol Ave area in the evening, I have seen a handful of homeless people around there from time to time, but they mix right in since the streets are filled with people going to and from the establishments in the area.

The other example I always use, and "Jetrock" touched on it in the comments section of the historic buildings post, is Union Square in San Francisco. There are lots of homeless people in and around Union Square with lots of SROs in the area as well, but since there are lots of other people in the area walking the streets, you barely notice them unless you trip over them.

Downtown suffers from an image problem that stems directly from K Street Malls run down nature, and nfortunately all the other downtown areas images suffer because of it. That's why the K Street projects are the most important in my mind. Once the baorded up store fronts go away and new retail establishment bring people into the area in a year or two, I think you will hear people's opinions of downtown as a whole change.

Give me your worst homeless person experience in downtown....

Up Close & From A Far...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Buildings in Search of a New Life and the Call to Action

I am going to hit on a few subjects here and steer off on a few tangents, so hang with me as I jump all over the place....

With the reincarnation of the Cal West Building into the Joie de Vivre Hospitality boutique hotel I'm am hoping people around Sacramento are starting to see the advantages of taking older historic buildings and creating new civic treasures.

I see so many great looking old buildings around downtown Sacramento that waste away as office space, and in some cases worse , Class C State office space, never to be fully enjoyed by the public.

These buildings are the architecture character, heart and soul of our city, but yet they lay waste in a sea of forgotten to most people.

Chip Conely from JDV commented many times how the Cal West Building just looks like it should be a hotel, not an office building. I agree 100%. There are many buildings to me that "just look like" they should be something else. I see a lot of these around Sacramento.

These buildings need new life, just like the Cal West building is seeing. The Elks Tower is seeing a nice make over with renovated office space and a new McCormick and Schmicks. Yes, it's a chain, but given the companies dedication to old buildings, I think we will see something unique done to the building and can't wait to see how it comes out.

With regard to the many other lower profile buildings in the city, how great would some of these look and feel seeing them transform into a Sacramento Concert Hall? Sacramento Art or Culinary Academy? How about Sacramento Museum of Modern Art? or Contemporary Art? Natural History? Asian Art Museum? Mexican Art Museum?

Now I know we have quite a few places that have these displays, such as the wing at the Crocker for Asian Art or La Raza Galeria Posada for Mexican art, but larger more dedicated museums would be great additions to this city.

Yes, the syphony and opera perform at the community center, but having a dedicated concert hall enhances those experiences and provides for better performances to come to Sacramento. The Memorial Auditorium acoustics have been well talked about as being poor. Maybe an upgrade is needed?

We have been seeing and hearing a lot of new developments in the city core, but to really make the central city livable and exciting for everyone we really really need to invest in more cultural amenities that bring the creative class into the city. Housing (still important), hotels, restaurants, and new retail only do so much. No one or two things will do it alone, and we are lacking this part of the equation to make it all work.

As I wrote in my very first blog post, I still want the city core to be the "entertainment, employment, arts, cultural, dining, shopping and urban living center for the region" While we are hitting on some of those points, it will take all of them to make the central city a place for everyone to enjoy. To do this, we need to improve our cultural offerings.

If you look around the country, large cities have many many of these cultural facilities in old historic buildings of interest.

For example:

- The Asian Art Museum in SF

- Chicago Symphony Center


Here are a few buildings through out downtown that I think would be great as some of the civic and cultural facilities mentioned above:

-This is one of my favorite buildings downtown on 12th and K. It's a stunning building when you take a close look at it. Given the location in the "theatre district", it really makes sense (when I say sense, I don't necessarily mean financial sense) to turn it into something more than just office space. A concert hall or theatre would be great in that location next to the community center.

-I'm not sure what this building use to be, but I know I have seen receptions and banquets held. Looks likes a good candidate for a museum

- The old Hong Kong Bank Building, currently for sale. Chinese Art Museum or Chinese Performing Arts. How about the Fat family stepping up to do something in the community they have spent generations in?

- Masonic Temple. Currently used as a ballroom, but could be another candidate for reuse.


- The Kress on K and 8th Street. Would be great if turned back into it's original form of a department store...but what about culinary academy or art academy space? The ground floor could be used for as a culinary institute restaurant or a gallery for the art academy students. Maybe a Thiebaud Art Academy...


Now that sounds all great in theory, but in reality, it would take quite a bit of time and money to pull these things off. In order for this to happen, we really need to see three things: 1) Citizens in Sacramento Demanding It 2) City Leaders Commitment 3) Philanthropy

The 3rd item is probably the hardest to come by (some would say #2, and I would agree to a point).

Since Sacramento does not have the large corporate base other large cities have, we need to depend on the the people in this city to make these things happen. Other than the Wells Fargo Pavilion (Music Circus) I can't think of any other major projects funded by corporations. I know there are many that sponsor the arts and other things, but in terms of help building large civic facilities, I can't think of any. I could be wrong though.

The Friedman, Anderson/Lucchetti, Tsakopoulos (love him or hate him, he gives $$$$, even if part of it is self marketing), Setzer, and Ose families, and many others I know I am missing or are not aware of, have given tremendous amounts of money to The Crocker Expansion, Sutter Health Expansion, Childrens Theatre and Museum, and Unity Center efforts in Sacramento. While this is a great great start, we need more of this from more people to create these civic cultural gems.

Only recently have I really been hearing about these very large donations, hopefully it continues. We don't have as many of the ultra wealthy people places like San Franciso or LA may have, but Sacramento is no slouch either. There are wealthy people in this region.

Creating these facilites doesn't make money and doesn't make pure return on investment sense to do, but as I have said on other items it does make community, civic and quality of life sense for people in this region. Through the giving of people who have made lots of money in the Sacramento area and feel the need to give back, I see these as great great opportunities to give back while creating something of lasting quality for Sacramentians to enjoy for generations to come.

I would never tell someone they HAVE to give money, because I feel no one has the obligation to give anything to anyone, but at some point in my life, I plan to "walk the walk" on this. I feel I have worked hard my whole life and in turn am fortunate to be where I am at in life at this point. Once my family has become financial secure, one of my life goals is to significantly contribute money and effort to a similar cause and help bring something like this off the ground in my home city which I love. I would personally take great pride in doing something like this during my lifetime.

Mind you, I most likely won't have a million dollars to give, but if more people in Sacramento took the approach of giving something to the arts, theater, education or any other cause they care very much about along with some real volunteer effort, we can make things happen.

Friday, October 20, 2006

This pisses me off....

I am a little late on hitting on this subject, but better late than never.

I'm sure most of you who live in the central city have heard about The Distillery's problems with the new renters at the St Anton building accorss the street.

They renters are complaning about noise from the bar.....

HELLO!!!???!!! Did you not realize there was a bar accoss the street when you were thinking about renting? Did you check out the area before moving in? Of course not...that would make too much sense.

This ranks right up there with people who complain about airplane noise when they bought a house IN THE FLIGHT PATH of the airport.

If you want to live in a perfectly quite neighborhood, you should not have moved directly across the street from a noisy bar, there are plenty of other places in midtown you could rent at.

Common sense people, common sense.

You can read more here:

East End Gateway Bites the Dust

On a follow up to my earlier post about the East End Gateway at 16th an O by Loftworks being delayed due to cost over runs, the Business Journal has an article today that the project is now canceled.

Damn. I was sooooo looking forward to this one. This one is much more disappointing to me than the DR Horton projects.

Earlier reports were they were 10% over budget, but the article today says that number is 25%. 28M budget, 35M in bids.

CADA says now that the site is cleared and clean a new developer can go straight to work on something after they put the project back to bid in a couple of months. I am going to the CADA meeting next Friday so I will report back any details I get from this project, as well as sites 1 and IV by Lambert Development.

I'm not liking this trend of projects being canceled due to construction costs, couple that with a slowing housing market and this could be real trouble for more projects.

This couldn't have come at a worse time given how much interest there is in developing in the central city.

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?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

My Cow Town...

In about three weeks a new magazine will be hitting the streets of Sacramento... SacTown Magazine. Be sure to pick one up for the great articles and to see more of my photos.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Maydestone Revival

Central City Opinion reports that the old Maydestone Apartments at 15th and J are getting a rehad. Awesome!!!

(Picture taken from

I have always thought this was a very cool looking building with a lot of character and really hoped someone would renovate it back to livable conditions.

From, Sacdelicious reports that the building is in escrow, and the partners are turning the building into 32 residential units. They expect the project to be done in about 6 1/2 months. Given the age and schematics, there will be no ground floor retail, which I figured would be the case just by looking at the building.

I'm just glad the project is housing and not a little office project. 32 units equals another ~50 people living and spending money in downtown....slowly but surely... slowly but surely.

Considering it's so close to a lot of the downtown nightlife and office buildings, I think they will have no problem leasing, as long as the rents are reasonable.

Thanks again to Central City Opinion and Sacdelicious!!!

500 Capitol Mall Ready to Breakground Soon?

500 Capitol Mall
25 story office tower
467,942 sf office
27,124 sf retail
Developer: Tskakopoulos Investments
Architect: Ed Kado
Estimated Completion: 2008

Looks like Capitol Mall will probably be adding it's 5 new highrise in the near future. 500 Capitol Mall looks like might breaking ground soon.

The current building which housed the old Wells Fargo offices is fenced off and demo of the building is expected soon.

(Thanks to Mike for the photo)

You might remember this project as the old Parthenon project that drew strong criticism from everyone. I'm glad to hear they are keeping the roof top restaurant concept though. From the plans I have seen, the ground floor retail will look similar to how the retail is set up on the Wells Fargo Center for Il Fornio and the Wells Fargo branch, up against the street, versus a huge setback like 300 Capitol Mall.

What is unique about this building is that it will be built on spec. Meaning no tenants have signed on. I guess it helps when you can bankroll the project yourself like Tsakopoulos can.

Final approvals from design review and planning commission are expected by the end of the year or shortly after.