Monday, January 29, 2007

Mixed Use Infill Coming to Broadway

A little while ago we talked about what could help Broadway with the departure of Tower Records and the topic of housing on Broadway came up.

This could be a big catalyst if successful. That lot has a big advantage being a block from lightrail and by some of my favorite places to eat on Broadway.

I hope the developer doesn't stick a Jamba Juice or Starbucks national chain type place on that cafe corner spot. Give us something unique. I want a duck hanging out the window, dim sum taking out, cha siu grubbin, dumpling soup drinking place.

The live work units are a really nice touch on the 19th street side. I'm curious to see what type of people would be interested in living and working there.

On the way, Avid Reader is looking to move into the old Tower Books location. The former Tower Records site seems to be a hot location, so I have to imagine something good will wind up there in the near future, though a national music retailer recntly pulled out, which I don't think is all that bad. A local would be much better in that spot. The buildings themselves don't look that great, so a spruce up of the buildings should be in order.

Broadway sways between two different identities to me... Could we see Broadway become a little more like Main Street in Flushing, NY? It already has a big headstart in that area. Will it become more like "Broadway" with another theater or performace venue entering the picture? A nice investment to the Tower Theatre by our good freinds as Redding would be nice..don't hold your breath though.

Or maybe a mix of both?

There are a lot of buildings that make a pedestrian friendly environment tough, the surface lots along Broadway provide opportunities to close some gaps though. This is a good start.


Bob Shallit: Broadway station to get new neighbors
By Bob Shallit - Bee Columnist

Sacramento's infill residential craze may soon be extending to the city's Tower District on Broadway.

A newly formed development company, Millennium Real Estate Services, has just acquired half a block at the northeast corner of 19th Street and Broadway and plans a $22 million, mixed-used project that would include five live-work condos and 64 apartment units, as well as retail and office space.

"We want this to be a model for transit-oriented development," says developer Marc Jasso, noting that the project is right across the street from the Broadway light-rail station.

The housing units will target people who want to take public transit to jobs downtown. Some retail services in the project also will be directed at commuters.

It's the first development project for Jasso, who in the past has consulted on retail projects outside of Sacramento. His goal is to form a real estate investment trust with the Broadway property as part of its portfolio.

Jasso and his partner, Larry Lipp, closed two weeks ago on the $3.4 million site purchase brokered by Rob Cole and Bill Newland of Grubb & Ellis Co.

The developers aim to submit plans to the city in the next several months, then begin a two-stage development process. The first will be construction of a four-story office building and retail shops on the northern portion of the site. The office building will be occupied by two tenants now in buildings on the south side of the Millennium parcel.

After the move-in, the tenants' old buildings will be demolished and work will begin on that portion of the project.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Townhouses!! Townhouses!!

With all the talk of lofts, apartments, and condos in midtown and downtown there are still a good amount of people out there that while they would love to live in the grid, would like to have a more traditional home not in a building and not on a busy street. There are people that do want lofts and condos on a busy street for that bigger city feel, but a lot of people just want a nice urban neighborhood to call home and be able to walk to a few places of choice.

There are a few good projects (and one I don't like at all) out there that I think will fit the bill for some of these people. You don't hear much about them since they aren't the grandiose high rise projects, but they contribute to making the central city a little more urban and walkable one project at a time.

I have always been an advocate of balance and diverse choices when it comes to restaurants, nightlife and housing, these project help provide that along with the many loft and condo projects out there.

Density is important to urban areas, and as we see with these projects, can be achieved in many ways, not just with high rises.

Newton Booth
Developer: LJ Urban
27th and V Street
Architect: David Mogavero

The development will consist of 3 buildings, one along 27th Street that is 3 and 4 stories and one along V Street that is also 3 and 4 stories. The third building runs along the alley and is 3 stories. All of this on .51 acres which comes to about 63 DUA.

I really dig the idea of a 4 story townhouse. I really want to check out the floor plans when they become availbile. A small retail space would have been nice to see in the project, but within a 10 block radious you have many different dining and cultural options anyways.

There is already a discussion going on about this project on the previous thread, so go ahead and make your comments here.

No info on prices or construction timeline on this project.

The Brownstones /
Developer: Meridian Developement and Tony Giannoni
21st and T/U Street
Architect: Packowski Heinritz Associates ??

This project is taking a unfriendly, unused office building surround by a parking lot tearing it down and turning into 58 single family detached homes on 3.1 acres which comes in at about 19 DUA.

While not as dense as Newton Booth, it's much better than the 6 or 7 per acre you will find in the burbs. The reason probably being they are planning a grassy common area which I am sure takes up a portion of the land available, but if important to someone would be a big selling point.

They are supposed to be designed to resemble brownstones look you would find in Manhattan. Now the difference is the brownstones in NYC have that aged character to them that can't be replicated through new development. Never the less, I think they look sharp. (I'll add the rendering and website later today when I get it off my home computer)

The office building has been demolished and site work has begun on the land. Sizes run from 1000 square feet up to 2500 with prices from 400K to 800K.

Sutter Townhouses

Developer: Loftworks
26th/27th and N Street
Architect: Unknown

This project is part of the Sutter Health expansion plans in midtown. Loftsworks has already done a few projects in midtown including the East End Lofts at 16th and J, O1 Lofts next door at 16th and K, M.A.R.R.S proejct at 20th and K, and was part of the canceled (tear in my eye) East End Gateway project at 16th and O. The have done good work on their other projects, so I expect nothing less on this one as well.

28 units on what I think is less than an acre (someone correct me if I am wrong), which is as dense as the Newton Booth project.

No info on prices or construction timeline for this project.

Washington Park Village
17th and D
Developer: Signature Properites

These are located accross the street from the Salvation Army center. Not the greatest location in the word, but I think I read the Salvation Army is moving locations

I also think they are the worse looking ones by far. These could have been taken out of any suburb in Sacramento or other city for that matter and you won't tell the difference.

The sizes range from 1228 to 1468 and priced at 430K to 448K and are currently under construction

Only rendering I could find:

Aura Condos

'We'll be breaking ground by the end of year'

'We'll break ground within two weeks'

Anyone who has followed Aura at 6th and Capitol Mall has become familiar with these words.

Now it looks like Aura needs a 10M loan to fill financing for the project. Great.

At least it looks like it will be a market rate loan for the duration of construction instead of a subsidy.

The parcel is still hasn't been sold to Nassi. His option expired a while ago and he and David Taylor haven't agreed on a new price yet. I'm sure Taylor is asking for a bit more than he originally had.

He said he has locked in construction prices for electrical systems, concrete and glass which sounds like could be huge for preventing higher costs down the road.

Initial reports were that Aura sold 80% the first weekend, then we heard 75%, then 70%, now the staff report says 65%. Interesting. I know one person who backed out and bought a place at L Street Lofts because they were tired of waiting for ground to break.

Staff Report

Aura sure is a nice looking building and I'd love to see it built, even if the parking garage stick out like a sore thumb. It would be nice to sit back and actually watch a couple of these towers get built with out all the drama

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

“Approved” Capitol Mall High-rise Ready to Go

If you’ve driven down Capitol Mall in the last few months, you probably noticed lots going on. The latest high-rise to gain approval to be built on the mall is 500 Capitol Mall. It’s a sleek 24-story building that has a fa├žade of granite and blue glass. This design is more main stream than the original proposal which was a 29-story tower that was capped by a semblance of the Athenian Parthenon. The “Parthenon” design was greeted with little praise. Its black glass and white columns that replicated the Parthenon in Greece looked as if it belonged in Las Vegas.

The new tower is designed by Sacramento architect Ed Kado, and the construction costs are expected to be $115 million and take 22 months to complete. This building is unique in that it will be built on speculation. This means that whether tenants are signed up to move in or not, the tower will be built. The developer Angelo G. Tsakopoulos will be paying a majority of the money out of his own pocket and won’t be relying on a banks terms to pre-lease a certain percentage of the office space before the money to build is released.

Site work is scheduled to begin in February and the steel structure is expected to rise this November. Capitol Mall will be quite impressive in a couple years if all five of the towers slated to be built actually rise… this one will be a nice addition.

The tower at 396 feet tall will also feature Sacramento's first elevated restaurant over looking the city from its top two floors and crowned by a skylight.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Joie de Vivre Update

Looks like Chip Conley has chosen this 5 words for his Sacramento hotel.

- Authentic
- Influential
- Surprising
- Classic/All-American
- Eclectic

He choose 2 of the words I mentioned, 3 if you count diverse being a synonym for eclectic. I still would have liked to seen Lush in biggie though.

He says he has the hotel name choosen along with the concept and operator for the restaurant, but he's not giving it up yet until it's trademarked. I just hope it's not something cheesy like "Capitol Hotel", "Governors Hotel" or anything like that.

At the last meeting I went to, they wanted to do a concept on the amazingly fresh product (though that screams more american type food to me) we have available to us here in the central valley, and it would be someone local. Rich Mahon at Waterboy is looking to do a new place, but in midtown and he wants to keep it manageable, I don't think a downtown hotel restaurant fits that description though.

I just hope we see 10th and K cabaret and the 700 block retail of K street finished by the time the hotel opens.

I'm really excited to see how this project turns out. You can bet I will be there to check it out soon after it opens.

Bob Shallit: Adjectives to guide design of new hotel
By Bob Shallit - Bee Columnist

After holding four focus groups and hearing from hundreds of Sacramentans, boutique hotel magnate Chip Conley finally has the framework for his downtown Sacramento project.

It's five words: "authentic," "influential," "surprising," "classic/All-American" and "eclectic."

OK, maybe that's six.

Whatever, those were the adjectives used by focus group participants to describe their city. And Conley says they'll be the guide for interior designer Candra Scott as she works on the $55 million, 197-room hotel, which will be in a 1920s-era building at 10th and J streets.

Conley, head of Joie de Vivre Hospitality Inc., isn't disclosing a lot more news about his project. He has a name for the hotel -- "a unique name we're really excited about" -- but won't reveal it until it's trademarked. He also has a concept and operator selected for the hotel's restaurant. Details will be available in a month or two.

What can Conley tell us about the hotel, which is due to open in mid-2008?

Well, for one thing, the lobby will be amazing, he reports. "It will feel like a law library meets a cool bar," he says.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

700 Block K Street Holdup

More bad news...

K Street land swap hits snag
Finance disputes stall plan for retail projects on mall.
By Mary Lynne Vellinga - Bee Staff Writer

Last-minute financial issues raised by property owner Moe Mohanna are delaying a land swap required for a major retail project to move forward in the 700 block of the struggling K Street Mall.

Furniture retailer Joe Zeiden, owner of the Z Gallerie chain, had expected to have all of the properties in the 700 block under his control by the end of 2006, said Wendy Hoyt, his local consultant.

But Zeiden is still waiting for Mohanna, who owns many properties on K Street and the surrounding blocks, to sign documents putting his 700 block parcels into escrow.

"We signed everything we need to sign some time ago," Hoyt said.
"We have several tenants lined up to open by the end of '07, and everything is hinging on this land assembly swap happening within the time frame it was committed to," she said.
"We should be in our buildings by now and doing tenant improvements, but instead we're waiting for land assembly agreements to be finished."

If the deal falls apart, it would be a major blow to the city of Sacramento, which is already scrambling to get the stalled Towers condominium project at Third Street and Capitol Mall back on track.

In her State of the Downtown speech Thursday, Mayor Heather Fargo alluded to the problems dogging K Street and other developments planned for downtown when she said: "We will go over, under, around or through to make these projects happen."

Zeiden has promised to revamp the row of historic buildings just outside the entrance to Downtown Plaza in time for the 2007 holiday shopping season.

Retailers expressing interest in the project have included Urban Outfitters, Sur La Table and Anthropologie.

Eager to bring new life to K Street, the city has helped Zeiden by spending about $24 million to buy properties in the 700 and 800 blocks of K and L streets.

It plans to trade those in the 800 block to Mohanna in exchange for his properties in the 700 block.

Once the transfer is complete, Zeiden will control the 700 block, and Mohanna will have most of the 800 block.

Mohanna and his partners, John Lambeth and John Saca, plan ground floor retail topped by high-rise condominium towers in the 800 block. With the housing market in a slump, Mohanna said they plan to concentrate on getting the retail built first.

Mohanna said his current problem is that a November fire in the already-devastated 800 block resulted in two additional buildings being demolished, one belonging to him and one belonging to Zeiden.

Another building, now owned by the city, is slated for demolition. And a fourth building has been declared dangerous.

Given this state of affairs, he said, the four banks that hold loans totaling $4 million on his 700 block properties have thus far been unwilling to transfer those debts to the collection of ruined buildings in the 800 block.

"The banks gave us loans because the buildings were operable and had tenants," Mohanna said.
"Now we are asking the lenders to take their loans and put them on the next block, so the banks have a legitimate argument saying these are not similar types of buildings. There is no income."

"Right in the middle of the appraisal, two buildings got demolished," he said.
Mohanna said he did not have insurance on 810 K St., which burned in the fire. Zeiden's adjacent building, 812 K St., also was destroyed.

The Sacramento City Fire Department is still investigating the cause of the fire, but Mohanna said transients were trespassing in both buildings.

Mohanna said the city should figure out some way to help resolve the issue of the loans for the
700 block.

He also said any insurance money collected for buildings in the 800 block should go to help fix up the 800 block.

"I think it can get worked out," he said.

"It's not a major obstacle. It's just a matter of the city sitting with the banks and convincing them that these collaterals are equal."

Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said Friday that Mohanna's loans "are not our issue."

"We have a land exchange agreement -- period," he said. Dangberg said he planned to meet with Mohanna next week.

"If there's some way to work this out, we're eager to do that. Our objective here it to get this transfer done. We're doing everything we can to make this happen, however we have to do it."

Dangberg said the use of eminent domain to wrest the buildings from Mohanna is "not out of the realm" of possibility.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Towers Construction Stops

I heard about this yesterday when a buddy went to the site and he asked why the site looks cleared. They said they are stopping construction for a month. has been talking about this since yesterday and the Bee has reported it today

No doubt construction cost increases are playing a big factor in this, along with a contractor switch from Turner to Bovis and the slowing housing market.

A project of this size would be a monster for almost all other cites in the US, let alone Sacramento. Considering the break neck pace since it was proposed just a little over two years ago to where it is at now, this is probably a good time to slow down a bit and get this squared away with financing instead of pushing forward without everything completely nailed down.

Next couple months will be very telling.


Construction on downtown towers halted
By Mary Lynne Vellinga and Jon Ortiz - Bee Staff Writers
Published 7:43 pm PST Thursday, January 11, 2007

Construction has stopped on downtown Sacramento's most ambitious development project ever - two 53-story condominium and hotel towers planned for the foot of Capitol Mall.

In a sign of developer John Saca's ongoing financial struggle to build his skyscrapers, several contractors filed liens against him in the past week for unpaid bills totaling $7.3 million for such items as architectural work and pile driving.

Hit with millions of dollars in cost overruns, Saca is seeking additional financing. Without it, he likely won't be able to close on his $375 million construction loan from Deutsche Bank.

Eric Rasmusson, a spokesman for Saca, called the work stoppage "a short temporary regroup" while the developer tries to reconstruct a workable budget and secure his construction financing.

Saca is seeking a greater infusion of cash from the California Public Employees' Retirement System, which had already agreed to invest $100 million in the project. The pension fund hasn't said yes yet.

As to whether the pension fund would put in more money, Ted Eliopoulos, who joined the giant state pension fund this week as its new head of real estate investment, said, "We'll evaluate it and complete our due diligence."

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Upscale Lounge in Downtown

While not my cup of tea anymore, there is a new "Euro Lounge" opening in downtown on the corner of 10th and J in the space next to Rodney's Cigar, in addition to the whole second floor.

Parlare Euro Lounge
10th and J Street

Not exactly sure what a "Euro Lounge" is, but it looks very nice and the location is can't miss for the near future. 800 J Lofts, the new JDV hotel, Hyatt, Sheraton, Friday Night Concerts, K Street developments, McCormick and Schmicks, and the proposed Metropolitan and Cathedral Building on the same block.

Looks they are trying do something similar to the very sucessful and very well done Park at 15th and L. While Sac has a plethora of fine dive bar and casual bar establishments to choose from, this type of upscale nightlife, is still lacking, hence the reason The Park can charge a $20 cover. Maybe with a couple more places like this opening, we will see them have to compete with each other and we will see some cover charges go down, which in my mind, $20 is ridiculous for Sacramento, but people are willing to pay it right now. The only places I have been to that charge $20 cover is Vegas. I've never paid more than $10 in SF

The couple times I have gone to The Park, we didn't pay cover since we had dinner at Mason's (which is great), but I would never pay $20 to get into a club. While I used to patronize the upscale places from time to time, after all dressing up and splurging is fun every now and then, right now I have little desire given my current stage in life, but I think it's very important to diversity the nightlife in the central city and another place like The Park is needed.

Problem is, it seems midtown is where all the regular bars are located and all the upscale stuff is popping up downtown. I'm sure the new nightclub that is one part of the 10th and K project will be of the upscale variety as well, thought I think it may attract a slightly older crowd.

As a person already living in the downtown area, I'd like to see a couple casual bars and pubs open in downtown. A good mix of different enviroments is what is needed. The new Cabana at 12th and K is a joke. (The old K Bar and Buddha Bar). The space is WAY too small for what they are trying to do. A more casual place, which don't mean a dive bar, would work well for the after theatre crowds from Imax, Commuinty Center, and Crest instead of spending money time and time again to recreate a theme lounge that only works for a VERY short period of time.

I am sure the upscale establishments will be attractive to younger people who live or want to live in the central city, or anywhere in Sac for that matter, but watering holes (like the new R15) where people just drop in for a drink and to shot some pool or watch the game without getting all dressed up to a $10 cover and $8 for a mixed drink will be in even bigger demand in the future, in my opinion.

Right now, downtown is more of a destination for office workers, convention goers, and restaurant/nightlife goers...a neighborhood is also needed. The more casual bars are more condusive in areas with higher residence, like midtown. As more people start living downtown and want that casual place to pop in for a drink to watch the game or on weekends with friends, we should start seeing more open.