Monday, February 26, 2007

Joie de Vivre Names its Sacramento Hotel

The Citizen Hotel

I have totally dug everything about this project and was one of my favorites out there, but I'm a little disappointed the name. I guess if that is the worst thing that happens, it'll be a success though.

I was just expecting something different. Not sure what, but just something different for the name. It seems so, 'shit, I can't think of anything, let's just name it the Citizens Hotel'

At least it wasn't named something ridiculous and tacky like, "Capitol Hotel", "Governors Hotel" or "Hotel Sacramento" I'm sure the name will grow on me, but my first reaction was eh.

In all though, I still can't wait to gete a look of the inside when they open.


Bob Shallit: Citizen Hotel name chosen to reflect Sacramento
By Bob Shallit - Bee Columnist

It's a little different, Chip Conley admits. But he says the name he's selected for the boutique hotel his company is opening downtown next year is perfect.

The Citizen Hotel.

"It's iconic -- a name you'd use in Sacramento and not in other places," says the CEO of Bay Area-based Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which is remodeling an 82-year-old office tower at 10th and J streets into a 197-room hotel with five penthouses and a terrace overlooking the Capitol.

The name was the result of a lengthy process that included meetings with hundreds of Sacramentans. It's intended, Conley says, to reflect the pride locals have in their city as well as the role Sacramento plays as a site of political discourse.

The interior design is not finished, but Conley has a few details. The lobby will have the look of a "private law library," he says. A staircase will lead to a mezzanine lounge -- "a great perch to see the celebrities checking in," he says.

The overall feel of the place?

Sort of like Sacramento itself, the CEO says.

"It will be classic and timeless on the outside -- all-American and slightly traditional," he says. "But when you look under the surface, you'll see something more hip and sophisticated with a lot of surprises."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sutter Housing

Designed by LPA Sacramento

Project Description: This urban-infill project in Mid-town Sacramento features fee-simple, for-sale housing. The all-brick exterior ties in to the existing look of the neighborhood. The project met the challenges of creating attractive and marketable units within a dense environment and received strong neighborhood support.

Units range from 1080 s.f. to 1260 s.f. and include 4 duplex live/work units and 24 single-family, 2 bed-2 bath units. 12 units face directly to N Street and 20 units face raised landscape courtyards.

This project is currently underway and I really dig the brick exterior... I hope the brick looks genuine and not prefabricated.

Project Information:
Site Area: .735 Acres
Density: 43.6 Units/AC
Housing: 32,000 s.f.
Units: 32
Parking: 32

Thursday, February 22, 2007

New Proposals for East End Gateway Sites 2 and 3

Next Friday CADA is going to be recommending the new developer for the two East End Gateway sites at 16th and O. I don't know who they are recommending though, but I will attempt to make the meeting.

Late last year Loftworks pulled out of developing the two sites and CADA has been fast at work to bring in new people to build. There were 4 proposals submitted, all by local development firms which I am very happy about.

Lambert has dragged their feet on sites 1 and 4 for too long. If they are not willing to move forward, I would be glad to see one of the below developers take over those sites.

Here are the proposals: (sorry no renderings)
- New Faze Development -
- Site 2
36 Units
5,500 Retail
- Site 3 -
53 Units
5,200 Retail
Total: 89 Units (81 Market Rate Apartments and 8 for sale town homes), 10,700 sf Retail, 101 Parking

- Ravel Rasmussen Properties and Separovich / Domich Development -
- Site 2 -
24 Units
6,400 Retail
- Site 3 -
45 Units
7,200 Retail
Total: 69 Market Rate Apartments, 13,600 sf Retail (part of the the 13K retail wold be used for office space), 94 Parking

- St Anton Partners -
- Site 2 -
36 Units
2,700 Retail
- Site 3 -
50 Units
4,200 Retail
Total: 86 Housing Units (40% Affordable), 6,900 Retail, 118 Parking

- SKK Developments -
- Site 2 -
70 Units
7,300 Retail
- Site 3 -
96 Units
4,300 Retail
Total: 166 Market Rate Condos, 11,600 Retail, 265 Parking

The New Faze proposals looks very similar to the Loftworks proposals with a mix of apartments and for sale townhouses. Like the old Loftworks proposal, I really like the for-sale town homes. Strong up and coming company.

The Ravel Rasmussen Properties and Separovich / Domich Development proposal is the smallest of the four, besides that, the part that doesn't sit well with me without knowing more info is ground floor office space as part of the retail mix. Not big on that. Solid company though that has been around for a while.

The St Anton looks very interesting with the 40% affordable housing in the mix, but the retail square footage is pretty low. Experienced affordable housing developer.

SKK Developments looks solid. Good density and amount of retail. Since it's a dense proposal, my guess is it would be a taller building like L Street Lofts. Built similar projects in midtown already. Should have the ability to move quickly

Can't really decide which I like best until I get more info. I'm going to try and attend the CADA meeting next Friday to find out more.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sutter Medical Center Expansion Project

Serious work is under way for the Sutter Medical Center in Mid-town Sacramento. Since summer of 2006, several buildings have been demolished and site work has started for one of the new medical buildings. This nearly $600 million health care and community redevelopment project is designed as a regional medical facility to meet Sacramento's healthcare needs for the next 50 years.

The new complex will be named the Anderson Lucchetti Women's and Children's Center, named in honor of the family of the late Fred Anderson, founder of Pacific Coast Building Products, Inc. The remodeled Sutter General and Cancer Center will eventually include a Women’s and Children’s Hospital Building; the Sutter Medical Foundation Building, which includes a below- grade Energy Center; a Community Parking Structure with first floor commercial and retail facilities; 32 residential units with an associated parking garage; a Medical Office Building; and a children’s theater. At the completion of the medical campus in late 2010, Sutter General Hospital will be renamed the Ose Adams Medical Pavilion in honor of the donations from Sacramento philanthropists Enlow and Melena Adams Ose.

The new Sutter Medical Foundation Building will on the right next to Church.

Digging for the Sutter Medical Foundation Bldg. where I beleive the below-grade Energy Center will be.

Parking garage

Where a six story parking garage will hold 1,100 vehicles.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More Towers News

The latest Bee article is a very interesting one. The fact that CalPERS made an offer to pay all the debt and keep moving forward seem to me they are still interested in this project and think is still makes a solid return.

Does it sound like all this trouble might just be hard renegotiating by both CalPERS and Saca??? As someone who has spent 8+ years in sales, first rule is never accept the first offer given to you. Maybe this is the case here. I think CalPERS holds the upper hand though.


Towers developer defaults on loan
By Mary Lynne Vellinga - Bee Staff Writer

Developer John Saca Wednesday said he has defaulted on a $22 million loan he used to buy the downtown land where he broke ground last year for two 53-story condominium and hotel towers.

The default -- the first step in a foreclosure -- doesn't necessarily mean the development is dead. Rather, it's a public exposure of the months-long private struggle between Saca and his equity partner in the Towers, the giant California Public Employees' Retirement System -- CalPERS.

Construction on the prominent site at Third Street and Capitol Mall stopped in January, leaving a hole in the ground, studded with piles, a few blocks down from the Capitol.

Nearly 400 buyers have paid deposits on condominiums in the Towers. That money is in a special escrow account and will be refunded if the development collapses.

Saca sent an e-mail Wednesday to all the buyers, assuring them he is "working diligently and doing everything possible to move this forward."

Contractors and professionals on the project have filed about $13 million worth of liens, bringing the project's total unpaid debts, including the land loan, to about $35 million, Saca said in a prepared statement.

As Saca's budget for what was introduced as a $500 million project ballooned by $70 million due to rising construction costs, CalPERS refused to give him more money.

The pension fund confirmed Wednesday that it has delivered just $25 million of the $100 million it had committed.

Ted Eliopoulos, CalPERS' senior investment officer, said the fund recently offered Saca a deal that would have allowed him to retain a financial stake in the project but would have given control to one of the large developers with whom CalPERS currently does business.

"We made a formal offer to John that would have paid all of his debts, including this note, and would have given him a good return," Eliopoulos said. "Unfortunately, he has turned that proposal down."

Eliopoulos said Saca also offered to buy out the pension fund by bringing in other investors. But CalPERS said Saca's offer didn't ensure the fund enough profit.

"We concluded it was not of the investment value we would even consider," Eliopoulos said.

Saca said Wednesday that the assertion that CalPERS had offered him a "good return" was a "complete misrepresentation of the facts."

He said he is bound by a confidentiality agreement that has prevented him from speaking about his dealings with the fund.

"I would like to make our offers to each other public record," he said. "I believe they won't allow this, because I don't think they'll want the truth to come out."

According to John Dangberg, Sacramento assistant city manager, CalPERS expects to earn a return of 21 percent on its money.

"While our first objective is to get the project done, we'd like to see everyone treated fairly. John has put a lot into this as a local developer, and has brought a new vision to our downtown. And we certainly would like to see him be a part of that if it's at all possible." In a written statement Wednesday, Saca placed the blame for the project's difficulties squarely on the pension fund.

"This predicament is out of my control," Saca said. "If it were my choice, all the outstanding invoices would be paid immediately. I have proposed several alternatives to my partner on how we can pay these bills; however, none have been accepted."

Saca went on to say that he's "not sure (CalPERS is) the right partner for this project."

Eric Rasmusson, a spokesman for Saca, said Deutsche Bank remains willing to lend Saca up to $400 million for construction. The city has agreed to provide an $11 million subsidy for the hotel portion of the project, which would be used for furniture and fixtures once the buildings were complete.

The land for the Towers is owned by Towers on Capitol Mall, LLC, a partnership of Saca and CalPERS.

The $22 million Saca borrowed from First Bank & Trust to buy the prime real estate on Capitol Mall was due at the end of December, Saca said in his statement.

Last week, local investor and developer Joseph Mohamed Sr. bought the note from First Bank & Trust, meaning that the Saca-CalPERS partnership now owes him $22 million. Mohamed said he filed a notice of default on the loan Wednesday with the county.

Mohamed said he doesn't expect to have to go through with a foreclosure but thinks Saca and CalPERS will pay off the debt and move forward.

"We try to buy only notes we feel are reasonably secure, and that's how we felt on this one," he said. "I don't throw money to the wind."

In its quest to restart the Towers project, Sacramento enlisted state Sen. Darrell Steinberg and Assemblyman Dave Jones, who have been talking to CalPERS.

Steinberg said Wednesday he's confident the issues can be worked out and that high-rise condominiums will materialize.

"Projects of this magnitude have their ups and downs," Saca said. "I am very confident that this project is going to succeed consistent with the vision that has rightfully excited this community."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Nassi Enters Into Contract for Aura Land

First part of the agreement to obtain the 10M loan for Aura from the city is complete.

Nassi has entered into escrow for the portion of Lot A that he will build Aura on. Having complete financing by March 31st is the sticking point to actually purchasing the land though.

Next on the list is to finalize complete financing and go back to the city for final approval of the 10M loan.

Nassi mentions in the aricle that everything is complete, but given how many times we have heard it would break ground in the 'next two months', I have to wait until I see the site fenced off.


Nassi secures Aura land
Sacramento Business Journal - 4:18 PM PST Tuesday, February 13, 2007
by Michael Shaw

Denver developer Craig Nassi reached an agreement Tuesday --- the last day before a city of Sacramento deadline expired -- to purchase the land for the Aura condominium project at 601 Capitol Mall, after falling out of contract last summer with David Taylor, the landowner of the Aura site.

The city council had given Nassi just seven days to resolve the land issues for Aura, a 36-story, 268-luxury condo project designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, in order to qualify for a $10 million loan approved last week.

Nassi, owner of BCN Development, must have financing in place by March 31 under the agreement with Taylor, which entered escrow Tuesday.

"We won't sell to him unless he's got all the financing," Taylor said.

Reached by phone, Nassi said he's closing the loans and construction could begin in a few weeks.

"Everything is done," he said. "We just needed to get the land back under contract. The financing is done, it's there."

Work was supposed to begin months ago. Rising construction costs have made money for high rises scarce and led to several delays.

The land deal with Taylor requires Nassi to provide an immediate sum, two additional payments in March and a closing amount on March 31, Taylor said. He declined to say how much Nassi will pay for the land.

Nassi gave credit to city manager Ray Kerridge and assistant city manager John Dangberg for helping make the project happen.

"We've got a great downtown redevelopment agency," he said referring to the Kerridge and Dangberg. "They put in 50 to 60 hours each in the past week to get the deal finalized."

City Sues K Street Developers

It's about damn time.

This land swap agreement was supposed to happen before the year ended once the city acquired certain properties to be swapped agreed to by both Zeiden and Mohanna. The city has purchased these properties and once again Mohanna seems to be the thorn in the side.

Saca and Lambeth are named in the suit as well, even though I think Mohanna and Lambeth are the actually owners. The main player and problem has always been Mohanna though.

I've always been under the thought, the sooner Mo Mohanna owns less property in downtown, esp K Street, the better we will be.

The city has spend way too much time and money in an attempt to revamp K Street to let this fall apart at the last second. The 700 block was to be open for holiday shopping this year, but I can't imagine that is likey now.

People I talked to a short time ago said the agreement that was signed is legally binding, so we will see how this turns out.


City sues K Street developers
Sacramento Business Journal - 2:50 PM PST Tuesday February 13, 2007
by Michael Shaw

After a breakdown in negotiations, the city of Sacramento on Tuesday sued several owners of property in the 700 and 800 blocks of K Street, asking the court to enforce a land swap that was supposed to ease redevelopment on the pedestrian-oriented street.

The agreement, signed in April of 2005, allows developers to own entire street frontage along a block, rather than just the scattered parcels they now control.

Moe Mohanna, who owns several parcels in the 700 block, has been reluctant to trade property after the city evicted tenants and a building he owned in 800 block was destroyed by fire. He banded together with John Lambeth and developer John Saca to build high rises and retail shops in the 800 block. All three are named as defendants.

The land swap was designed to transfer ownership of Mohanna's and others' parcels in the 700 block to furniture magnate Joe Zeiden for a new Z Gallerie store and other retail shops. Zeiden is eager to trade parcels, said his representative, Wendy Hoyt. Zeiden is not named in the suit.

In return, the "Saca team" would receive the 800 block, where Zeiden owned property at 812 K Street, which had to be torn down due to the fire. The land swap uses the city's redevelopment agency as the go-between.

Mohanna could not be reached immediately for comment. He has said in the past he had difficulty getting his lenders to comply with the swap and was upset at losing rental income due to the evictions.

John Saca said he has no input with what the individual property owners have done.

"My hands are tied," Saca said, adding he was disappointed that he was named as a defendant. "Our deal is that I'd be the managing partner once the land was traded. Because the trade never took effect, the partnership never got formed."

The suit alleges the developers "materially breached" the contract and in November "began inventing a series of excuses to avoid timely transfer," of the parcels.

The suit, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, notes the city itself bought property "for values higher than market value, under threat of condemnation, and providing relocation assistance," to make the deal happen.

Hoyt said the snag is hindering the possibility of Zeiden's plan to open the new store by fall.

The city wants the agreement enforced by a judge, or barring that, unspecified damages.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Twisted 88's No More...

Apparently, Twisted 88's is already shutting down. The place is being turned into another upscale club/lounge with a Miami Beach theme.

Didn't Cabanna just open with the SAME motif?

Here is the rundown...

Located on 1616 J Street ..
Azukar Cocina & Bar will be Sacramento's Newest Miami Beach-inspired Dcor Restaurant and Lounge with over 12,000 square feet on two levels featuring 10 Bars, Ultra Lounge, Open Air Lobby Bar, Restaurant and Dance Floor with a capacity of over 1,000 guests..

Serving High End Mexican Cuisine in Sacramento's finest Location. Mikuni's , PF Chang's, Bistro 33 and Lucca's all in walking distance !! Azukar's ultra-chic design concept couples LED lighting with cutting edge d├ęcor. Jet-setters and Hollywood’s A-list flock to this modern space featuring Zen glass fixtures, natural hide sofas, dramatic columns, and a dramatic water wall.
add us for updates, VIP Specials and most importantly :

OUR GRAND OPENING : Early Spring 2007 ..

Friday, February 09, 2007

16th and L Retail Project

I ran across a retail project planned for the surface parking lot at 16th and L across from the Firestone Building and the new Grand Wines (I think that is what it's called).

Not sure who the developer is or any time line. Anyone with info, please let us know.

Looks like there are 4 retails spots available. I do like the fact that there are small spaces below 2K in the mix for hopefully some independent mom and pop type places to open up, in addition to that big 7k+ space.

I'd really like to see something other than just full service restaurants take up all these spaces and others along 16th Street. The space next to Pronto at 16th and O, while a pretty small space is getting a new pizza by slice place that will have full bar and will be open late night...excellent. Smaller establishments like that would be nice to have in the area. A new bakery or cheese shop would be much appreciate by someone who already lives near by.

16th Street has a lot of potential to be a very cool walkable commercial urban street, and while this retail will help connect the dots, I'm pretty disappointed at the ordinary look of it. Granted this looks like a very preliminary rendering, but blah so far. I'm also disappointed at what looks like only 1 story retail with no housing or even some office space for some density.

Then again though, keeping it 1 story might be conducive toward attracting some more nightlife since they wouldn't have to worry about upstairs residential units and noise. That area already brings in a lot of people with PF Changs, Mikuni's and Bistro 33 on the next block so an after dinner place would fit the bill nicely.

The Firestone Building across the street has from what I have been told inked California Pizza Kitchen to a lease, but is probably still waiting for a lease on the other restaurant spot and nightclub portion before they start. The office building next door has interest from restaurants and a bank so we should see that space taken soon. We should hear more about the East End Gateway next month as they wanted to choose new developers for sites 2 and 3 by March.

Now we just need some one to pick up that prime surface lot at 16th and J

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sacramento Skyline

Despite several weeks of bad news concerning one project or another in Sacramento, work continues for three high-rise offices.

Click on images to make larger.

621 Capitol Mall (US Bank Tower) 25 floors

500 Capitol Mall - 25 stories

CalSTRS Headquarters in West Sacramento - 19 floors

Sunday, February 04, 2007

R Street Projects

The R Street corridor is on the verge of the next housing boom in downtown/midtown Sacramento. There are currently 22 projects planned or under construction for R Street between the river and 28th Street. One project I really like is the R Street Station Towers which as reported by the Sacramento Business Journal, would have towers rise on either side of the light rail tracks and have as many as 250 units. The two towers would have a mezzanine walkway connecting the towers together that allows trains to pass beneath. Height limits for the area would have to increase from 75 to 90 feet and are currently under consideration for the reworking of the corridor’s special plan. Also being considered are new streetscapes that emphasizes the areas industrial feel and preservation on historic buildings. I’d really like to see what they have in mind… it could be really cool.

Regis Homes has plans to submit an application next month for a 305 unit mid-rise replacing a parking lot the size of a full city block with a five story building. Parking would be in the middle of the building with housing and retail along the outside. I really hope we can see more of this in the future.

Regis Homes has several projects planned for R Street, another is 125 units, eight story mid-rise that has lofts, condominiums, and penthouses. According Rodger Hume who is one of the partners working on the project, the project needs to be eight stories to work. The proposed building site is in a part of town where it goes beyond current height limits. That law could change if a proposal to allow high density housing near light rail lines is approved by the city council. This project has not submitted an application to the city.

The R Street district runs from 2nd Street to 29th Street for a total of 54 blocks. Rules for development along R Street were established 10 years ago and now need to be updated to include taller buildings, according to a city planner. Long shadows worry some residents and proposed changes to accommodate their concerns would be set-backs for taller building as well as eight story building would need to be narrower at their higher floors to allow more sun light down to the street below. These suggested changes will be considered in April.

I get puzzled when I hear worries of shadows from an eight story building… in my opinion, the canopy of trees that covers the downtown grid blocks out more sun light than what a few mid-rise buildings will ever do.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Rendering for Meridian II

I've had this rendering for a few months now, but kept forgetting to post it. Meridian II is located at 15th and K on the vacant parcel in back of Meridian I and Masons.

Originally the design was to be a replica of Meridian I, but twice as tall. Looks like that won't be the case though.

This is the only rendering I have so it's a little tough to get a good idea of the look since it's a black and white rendering, at that angle and no other info about ground floor retail and such. It looks like it could have some nice potential though. I like the layers on the building, but the lower left part of the rendering on the ground floor looks weird, not sure if that is the entrance or what. Ground floor retail in that area should be a must. A few more angles and renderings would be helpful.

You would think with 621 Capital Mall and 500 Capital Mall (which now seems to be stuck in CalTrans CEQA beaurocracy) adding over 700K to the market, there wouldn't be room for another large Class A building right away.

Meridian II seems to already a tenant lined up though. There was an article a while back about the law firm of Bullivant Houser Bailey leasing the last 25K in Meridian I, with plans to take more space in Meridian II. I don't remember how much space it was or if was even mentioned, but that might get them off the ground, esp considering it will have the bankroll of Angelo K. Tsakopoulos (Angelo G. Tsakopoulos, Angelo's nephew (I think), is 500 CM) behind it.

Bullivant also commented that the reason they choose the location they did was partially because of all the great new restaurants and excitement on that side of downtown and midtown. Nice to see some of the cool venues that have opened up taken notice by potential employers, esp one that move their office from the suburbs to downtown like Bullivant did. Hopefully others feel the same way.