Friday, August 31, 2007

Law Firms Moving around Capitol Mall

"They are leaving Peter to pay Paul," Strain said.

I think this is very true. Right now we are seeing a shuffle of tenants without expanding the base. Its great that these firms are signing onto new buildings that are being built since it shows there is a market for newer and better space, but at the same time Downtown is probably looking at a very high vacancy rate for a while, unless we see some major back filling of these building, which is going to hurt chances of new buildings.

Unless the market for downtown offices expands and back fills that empty space, either from significantly growing companies like Downey Brand is, or even better, bringing companies from the suburbs and firms not in Sacramento already to the city, instead of firms just moving around, its going to be tough to see more space in the near future.

Currently Meridian II at 15th and K, as well as The Cordano Building at 8th and L are in the pipe that would account for another ~450K in office space.

With higher vacancy rates you would think that would push rates down temporary (you know, that whole supply and demand thing we all learned in microeconomic) and tempt firms to take look at moving into the city. It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out in the next couple years.


Capitol Mall's top law firms on the move
Older buildings face vacancies once shiny new towers get built

Sacramento's second-largest law firm has focused its sights on new office space at 500 Capitol Mall.

If talks bear fruit, developers George and Angelo G. Tsakopoulos would get McDonough Holland & Allen PC as the first anchor tenant for their 24-story office tower, and the owners of the law firm's current home at 555 Capitol Mall would face a gaping hole in their lease portfolio by early 2009.

Downey Brand LLP already has signed as an anchor tenant in U.S. Bank Tower, under construction at 621 Capitol Mall. Sacramento's largest law firm expects to leave 555 Capitol Mall for its new headquarters across 6th Street in November 2008.

While Downey Brand is working to expand its lease in the new bank tower to five floors, another Top 10 Sacramento law firm is close to a deal for space there. Norm Hile, managing partner at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, said the firm is "very far along with negotiations" for a lease at 621 Capitol, but "it's not definite."

This kind of movement is unprecedented among major law firms on Capitol Mall. Some say it indicates the legal market has matured enough that developers can hang ambitious projects and their financing on the strength of the legal shops.

"We're looking at significant anchor tenants for these two buildings," corporate real estate broker Chris Strain said. "Landlords and lenders have been hesitant to use professional services as anchor tenants in the past because they typically do not have a deep balance sheet. This shows you we have a healthy legal industry in Sacramento that reflects the expansive business environment."

It also reflects the near-term challenges facing downtown landlords as a big block of Class A space moves toward the market.

Big chunk of space

McDonough Holland & Allen's lease is up at 555 Capitol on May 31, 2009. The law firm sent out a request for proposals more than a year ago for 65,000 to 80,000 square feet of offices.

"Our focus is now on 500 Capitol Mall," executive director Gerry Holt said. "But we have not signed a lease yet or even begun formal negotiations."

Until that happens, firm executives have declined further comment.

"If we do sign them, they'll be our first significant tenant, and it would establish a name for the building that's recognizable," said Greg Levi, the leasing agent for 500 Capitol Mall. An 80,000-square-foot lease would fill about 18 percent of the 433,500 or so leasable square feet of offices planned for the tower.

"We don't have things finalized yet," Angelo G. Tsakopoulos said. "We've got some loose ends. But we're in discussions and should have something to report soon."

A stable, longtime law firm founded in Sacramento in 1953, McDonough Holland & Allen has more than 85 local attorneys and dozens of support staffers, making it a plum anchor tenant for any office building. It now leases about 68,000 square feet on the seventh, eighth and ninth floors of 555 Capitol Mall, or about 18 percent of the 376,000-square-foot total in that building.

"The $64,000 question," Strain said, is what happens to 555 Capitol Mall with so much vacant space? That would be almost 40 percent of the leasable offices at 555 Capitol.

The ownership group at 555 Capitol was unable to come to terms with McDonough Holland & Allen to extend the lease, said Claudette Russell, vice president of building operations.

"The negotiations broke down due to a difference of opinion (on) the rental rate," she wrote in an e-mail. "Plaza Five Fifty Five is asking $3.50 per square foot for the space that McDonough Holland & Allen will vacate."

Efforts to reach the building's owners were unsuccessful.
Another vacancy looms

Another high-rise on Capitol Mall could lose a solid law-firm tenant, too.

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe's lease at 400 Capitol Mall is up at the end of 2008. The firm is far into negotiations for space up the street in the U.S. Bank Tower.

"We are obviously spending time looking at our options," managing partner Hile said. "The folks at 621 (Capitol) have a very attractive proposal, but there's no final signed anything."

The Sacramento office of San Francisco-based Orrick Herrington has 29 lawyers, making it No. 8 on the Business Journal's list of top law firms in the region. The firm occupies the top floor -- the 30th -- of the Wells Fargo Building and about half the 29th floor.

Orrick Herrington needs more space and is still talking to the building owners about taking the rest of the 29th floor, Hile said. "But we are very far along with negotiations at 621 Capitol Mall," he added. "It's a beautiful and attractive space, much in our thoughts."

Downey Brand has exercised its option to take more space in the new bank tower, but the paperwork isn't finished yet, said Tom McCarthy, operations director for the firm.

The expanded lease would give the firm just over 100,000 square feet, up from 85,000 square feet in the initial deal signed two years ago; the higher figure would amount to almost 30 percent of the office space in the tower, which would have about 350,000 square feet to lease. It's enough room for about 160 offices, McCarthy said. The firm has about 105 in Sacramento now but wants room to grow.

While the number of new law firms coming to Sacramento continues to grow, the net number of lawyers in the area is not changing much as new high-rise office buildings come on line.

There are a total of 8,792 lawyers in the four-county area, according to the State Bar. That's up slightly more than 1 percent from 8,680 in 2006.

"They are leaving Peter to pay Paul," Strain said. "At the end of the day, we'll see vacancy rates on Capitol Mall of up to 20 percent, two or three years out."

1.4M in State Office Space?..God help us

I went to a couple of the West End meetings 2 or so years ago, and what they were planning was a little better than the East End. There was some attention brought to quality of the open space, instead of open space for the sake of open space, plus a bit of housing, but in the end, it still pretty much sucked.

Yes, the state is a major employer in the downtown area, but I don't think I need to tell anyone they build some of the worst office buildings around, creating dead space where they decide to build.

This line caught my attention:
"About half the agency's employees now work at the Resources building at Ninth and N streets. The state plans either to remodel the aging 17-story building or tear it down."

During the West End meetings there were rumors about this happening, some of us would said we would gladly chip in for a stick of dynamite to bring that ugly building down.


Interest high in office project
State wants private sector to build big new digs for agency.
By Mary Lynne Vellinga - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, August 31, 2007

The state of California is looking for a private developer to build one of the largest state office projects in history, and contenders on both sides of the Sacramento River are lining up.

More than 100 people crowded into a briefing earlier this month for potential bidders to build a new 1.4 million-square-foot headquarters for the state Resources Agency somewhere within three miles of the state Capitol.

"There are probably 20-plus development firms that could turn in a proposal," said Anne Cavanagh, project manager for the state Department of General Services, which is overseeing the effort. Proposals are due Nov. 6.

The state turned to the private sector after concluding that the project -- formerly dubbed the West End -- would be too expensive for the state to build itself.

In 2001, the Legislature authorized a budget of $391 million to build the high-rise headquarters on a two-block stretch of land in downtown Sacramento bordered by P, N, Seventh and Eighth streets. A parking garage would have gone on land nearby at Ninth and R streets.

But by last year, when the state finished its environmental review, the cost had ballooned to $520 million, and probably has risen since, Cavanagh said.

"We walked away from that project," she said. Instead, the state now plans to lease the new Resources Agency headquarters, with an option to purchase it after 10, 15 or 25 years.

The state is asking bidders to submit two proposals: One for 700,000 square feet of space and another for twice that much. The larger amount would allow the state to bring about 4,000 employees of the Resources Agency together in one place. If that's judged too expensive, about half that many would locate in the new building, with the rest remaining in existing leased space, Cavanagh said.

A 1.4 million-square-foot project would be nearly as big as the state's massive East End complex at Capitol Park.

Bidders can propose to build on a private site within three miles of the Capitol or on state-owned property already slated for the West End project, originally envisioned as two towers.

The state plans to contribute its downtown land at no cost, a provision some potential bidders said was unfair to those with private sites.

Cavanagh said the state's downtown property would be expensive to build on for a variety of reasons, including the need for underground parking and the fact that it's surrounded by light rail.

"When you add all those things up, it's not necessarily free," she said.

The building competition has attracted interest from developers in Sacramento, West Sacramento and South Natomas. Potential sites include the West Sacramento riverfront, the downtown railyard and the Richards Boulevard area.

Developer Mark Friedman, who plans to offer a site in West Sacramento's Triangle redevelopment area, called the competition a "high-stakes game."

Because of the detailed list of state specifications, including a requirement that the building include environmentally friendly features, the cost of submitting a bid is likely to top $250,000 and may be as much as $500,000, said Friedman and other bidders.

"Basically what we have to do is completely design and price a building, and submit a proposal that we're willing to live with in 90 days," Friedman said.

Suheil Totah, who is spearheading the downtown railyard development for Thomas Enterprises, said he isn't sure whether the company will compete.

"We're going to take a look at the package and decide if it's a good fit for us," Totah said. "It appears to be quite an endeavor to respond. You have to weigh the likelihood of them wanting to come to your site vs. staying where they are."

John Dangberg, Sacramento assistant city manager, said the city will do what it can to make sure the thousands of Resource Agency jobs remain in Sacramento.

"We're going to keep it here in Sacramento; that's our priority," he said.

About half the agency's employees now work at the Resources building at Ninth and N streets. The state plans either to remodel the aging 17-story building or tear it down.

The building competition is reminiscent of a flurry of state projects bid out to the private sector in the early 1990s.

Eventually, the California Environmental Protection Agency was built at 10th and I streets; the city of Sacramento leases that building to the state. Developer Opus Corp. built the Department of Justice headquarters at 13th and I streets; the state since has purchased the building.

The state later built the East End project, an undertaking derided for its sterile architecture. But Friedman said there's no question the East End has helped revitalize midtown Sacramento. He's hoping the new project could do the same for the West Sacramento waterfront.

"After the East End project was put in, 20 or 30 new restaurants sprung up in the immediate area," he said. "One thing that has helped make those restaurants successful is all the lunch business."

City pulls back 10M Loan for Aura

As much as I want to see Aura built, its good the city isn't letting that money stay out there any longer. That money being tied up here means less elsewhere. There are only so many time you can hear the same "Soon" "Close" 2 Weeks" rhetoric from Nassi that we have heard for the past two years..

If he can come back with FINALIZED loans, not "close" "soon" "within 45 days" then I would like to listen again to requests for loans, but until then..don't waste anymore time on it.


City kills condo loan offer
Developer says downtown Aura high-rise isn't dead.
By Jon Ortiz - Bee Staff Writer

Sacramento city leaders have pulled back their offer to loan $10 million to fund construction of a downtown condominium high-rise.

Craig Nassi, the Denver-based developer behind the 39-story Aura tower proposed for 601 Capitol Mall, lost the city's commitment after he failed to secure all of his private financing by the end of last month.

Despite the setback, Nassi is now talking up a second downtown condo project that will include a 400-room hotel.

Nassi insists that Aura is alive. But besides having the city withdraw its money, he hasn't yet bought the land for it from local developer David Taylor. Taylor owns the 600 block on the north side of Capitol Mall and is building the U.S. Bank Tower on the eastern half.

Sacramento Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said the city still supports Aura, but that it "has no further commitments at this time" to the project.

"We understand that it's a very challenged market right now," Dangberg said. "We'll support (Nassi) however we can. We're more than willing to reconsider financial participation in the project when he has the balance of financing in place."

In June, Nassi said that he would have his lenders lined up within 45 days. This week, he said financing was on the horizon for the $177 million project.

"We hope to have the loan ready to fund soon," Nassi said in an e-mail. He blamed the delay on "capital markets (that) have been paralyzed by the subprime fallout and the unknown of secondary market pricing."

He did not say whether the withdrawal of the city's money would affect his ability to complete financing.

Like Aura, Nassi's second tower, called Epic, is designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. Its Web site details plans for 354 luxury condo units in a sweeping 50-story, mixed-use tower that would take up half a city block at 12th and I streets.

Nassi said that he is "close to finalizing a deal" with InterContinental Hotels Inc. to anchor Epic.

But he apparently is competing with local developer John Saca for the same hotel chain. Local business officials say Saca also has wooed InterContinental.

The dual hotel talks are the latest saga in a rivalry that began more than two years ago when Nassi proposed Aura three blocks from a project Saca wanted to build on Capitol Mall between Third and Fourth streets. That plan -- the Towers -- called for twin 53-story buildings featuring about 800 condominiums, an InterContinental hotel and high-end retail stores.

Each developer went all out for prospective buyers with dueling showrooms, sales parties and publicity stunts. In the end, Saca's project busted its budget and collapsed earlier this year.

Since then, Saca has proposed building the Metropolitan, a 39- story structure at 10th and J streets with up to 330 condos and a hotel.

Saca didn't return calls seeking comment about hotel discussions for the Metropolitan. But Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, said "we've heard that InterContinental has been talking to both of them (Saca and Nassi)."

Steve Hammond, president and CEO of the city's Convention & Visitors Bureau, also said that Saca and InterContinental have talked and that Sacramento continues to field attention from several hotel chains.

InterContinental would not comment on any talks with developers. But John Lee, the company's Western region vice president, said the hotel chain wants to fly its flag here.

"Sacramento is a target market for us," he said. "We'd love to be in the city."

Dangberg, the assistant Sacramento city manager, said the city is "excited" at InterContinental's apparent interest, but that it hasn't earmarked money for Epic or the Metropolitan.

"We're supportive, but we've made no commitment of any kind to either," Dangberg said.

Rivalries aside, Sacramento could use more hotel rooms, said visitors bureau chief Hammond, despite adding 235 suites with the new Marriott Residence Inn at 15th and L streets. Another 200 rooms will come online when Joie de Vivre Hospitality opens the boutique Citizen Hotel at 926 J St.

"We gear our sales and marketing efforts towards groups that are the size that will fit in Sacramento," Hammond said. "So as our hotel inventory grows, we adjust our client base to fit the room inventory that we have available."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

InterContinental Hotel still a possiblity?

I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I read this:

"Denver-based developer Craig Nassi said that he is "close" to signing a deal with the luxury hotelier for Epic, a high-rise he envisions for 12th and I streets."

Just like you have been "close" to ground breaking on Aura for 2 years now? I'm still waiting for the news that Aura has been canceled...or bought out by someone we all have heard of.

I can see how Saca and InterContinental are talking since they had struck a deal originally on The Towers before that went bye-bye.


Two developers vying to lure hotel chain to Sacramento
By Jon Ortiz - Bee Staff Writer
Published 1:02 pm PDT Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Two developers with a history of competition are in talks with InterContinental Hotels Inc. to partner with them on rival condo-hotel towers each wants to build in downtown Sacramento.

Denver-based developer Craig Nassi said that he is "close" to signing a deal with the luxury hotelier for Epic, a high-rise he envisions for 12th and I streets.

Local developer John Saca didn't return calls seeking comment about how InterContinental might fit into his 10th and J streets tower, The Metropolitan, but Sacramento business observers confirmed he has talked to the British firm about a deal.

"What we're hearing is that John has spoken with them," said Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. Steve Hammond, president and CEO of the city's Convention & Visitors Bureau also said that Saca, who signed Intercontinental to his Towers condo project on Capitol Mall before it failed earlier this year, hopes to renew his partnership with the company.

John Lee, InterContinental's western region vice president, declined to comment about either project. "Sacramento is a target market for us," he said, "and we'd love to be in the city."

The InterContinental Hotels & Resorts chain is part of the larger InterContinental Hotels Group PLC based in Berkshire, England. It operates the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel in San Francisco and owns the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express chains, among others.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Up Up We Go!!!

621 Capitol Mall (US Bank Tower)

CalSTRS (HQ) in West Sacramento

Dirt is moving at the Railyards

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Radiant City - Friday, August 24th - 7:00pm - FREE!


There's something strange happening when a developer screens an anti-sprawl documentary, hosts the film in its workspace, invites the public, and shows it for free.

It's called Change. And we think it's about time.

We got wind of Radiant City back in February and have been working with the good people at Shiny Object to present the only screening of this film here in Sacramento. Originally, the location was going to be at Fool's Foundation which would have been cool, but a few weeks ago the folks at Fool's learned that they can't continue to do the music shows and films (for now), so we've relocated the screening to our refurbished warehouse workspace.

Since LJUrban never had an open house after moving to our new space, we can't think of a better way to open our doors.

Makes it less about us and more about the larger community.

Radiant City takes a sardonic prod at Sprawl – the uber-antithesis of Eco-Urban.

Prepare to be challenged, maddened, invigorated, humored, astounded, sobered, etc.

Trailers and Clips

In our minds, this documentary couldn't be a better means of stirring up some discussion about the impact of conventional development on humanity.

Towards that end, we've invited architect, Renner Johnston, and ECOS Director, Graham Brownstein to join us onstage after the film and help us all dig into the connections between the film and our own city.

It'll be a bit of a squeeze getting 100 people into our Lounge but we think there's a correlation between density and community life. Heh, heh, heh.

Come join us!

Date: Friday, August 24th
Time: 7pm (first come, first seated).
Location: Corner of 20th and H (side entrance on 20th Street)
Cost: Free!

The Lounge at our Workspace

Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS)

Mogavero Notestine and Associates

Shiny Object (Movies on a Big Screen)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More setbacks on the 700/800 Block

K Street land deal hits legal setback
Sacramento is unlikely to succeed in bid to force developer to swap property, judge finds.
By Terri Hardy - Bee Staff Writer

A judge's ruling Wednesday dealt a major blow to development of two critical blocks on the K Street mall in downtown Sacramento, setting the stage for a potentially lengthy legal battle or an eminent domain fight.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster found that the city wasn't likely to prevail in a lawsuit to force a development team headed by property owner Moe Mohanna to go through with an agreed-upon land swap.

The city wanted the exchange so that a development team fronted by Joe Zeiden, owner of the Z Gallerie furniture retail chain, could revamp the historic buildings in the 700 block of K Street and install them with well-known retailers.

The exchange would have paved the way for Mohanna's team to transform the street's 800 block with condos and retail.

But McMaster found that a fire and demolition of buildings in the 800 block lowered the property value and wouldn't have resulted in a fair exchange.

The city's lawsuit still is pending, but the ruling will trigger discussions on the next steps, said James Gilpin, the private attorney representing the city. Options include the city using its powers of eminent domain, he said.

"We're at a fork in the road," Gilpin said. "We have to decide which way to go to get K Street redeveloped."

Gilpin said it was possible to go forward with the lawsuit, and noted that not all evidence had gone to McMasters before he made his ruling.

Mayor Heather Fargo, through a spokeswoman, said she hadn't been briefed on the ruling and could not comment.

The attorney representing the Mohanna team called the lawsuit "frivolous" and said the victory Wednesday all but kills the land swap. And, they said they are preparing for a fight.

"If they try it (eminent domain) we'll be ready for that, said Myron Moskovitz, attorney for Mohanna and his team.

"My clients want to see the redevelopment of K Street. They have the ability to redevelop the 700 block themselves, and they'd still like to do that."

If the case goes forward, it would likely take a year to go to trial, Moskovitz said.

City officials have said the land swap is crucial to make redevelopment possible in the area. The city already has spent more than $24 million to speed up the process by buying property in the area from other owners and relocating merchants.

"At this point we're left with scattered parcels of ownership," said Leslie Fritzche, the city's downtown development manager. "We're left to explore our options. Do we fold our tent, lick our wounds and go home? I don't know."

Wednesday's setback could also mean developer Zeiden pulls out of the project. Fritzche said Zeiden has so far remained committed, but they would have to look now at whether he wants to go forward if land can't be consolidated.

Zeiden's spokeswoman, Wendy Hoyt, did not return a call for comment.

Redeveloping the 700 and 800 blocks, among downtown's most blighted blocks, is crucial and the main concern for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, said executive director Michael Ault.

"Whatever the ruling, progress has got to be the priority," Ault said. "Further legal wrangling impacts our ability to move forward."

Movement has been slow in coming. In January 2005, the city took a get-tough approach.

It gave property owners of the run-down businesses and empty lots a tight deadline to produce viable redevelopment plans or face the possibility that the city would appropriate the property under the power known as eminent domain.

In court Wednesday, the Mohanna team's attorney complained to the judge about the tactics, and said his clients didn't like the land swap deal.

"(The city) said 'you're not good enough, we're going to take it away from you and if you don't like it we'll use eminent domain,' " Moskovitz said. "They were under pressure, under threats."

After a fire in November and subsequent demolition, Mohanna has said banks have been unwilling to transfer $4 million in loans he has on property in the 700 block to the 800 block. Mohanna went to the city to ask for more financial help but that was rejected, he said.

"My client was left with rubble," Moskovitz said.

At issue in Wednesday's hearing was a legal document the city filed against the properties that were to be part of the exchange. The "lis pendens" warn the land is tied up in litigation and make it difficult for properties to be sold or for money to be borrowed on the land.

The judge ruled that the lis pendens be removed.

Mohanna also has filed a countersuit against the city, seeking to recover damages. His attorney said he's losing $40,000 in monthly rent from tenants the city evicted.

And Mohanna is suing Zeiden, claiming the developer was negligent in his oversight of his buildings, leading to the fire.

Despite these complaints, Mohanna's team hasn't said officially it won't accept the land swap.

"We're not claiming the agreement is terminated," Moskovitz told the judge. "Maybe we will, and maybe we won't."

Monday, August 06, 2007

Capitol Mall Extreme Makeover Proposal - Councilman Steve Cohn

Capitol Mall Extreme Makeover Proposal - Councilman Steve Cohn


Sacramento’s Capitol Mall needs an extreme makeover. Not the Hollywood variety, but a serious, concerted effort to make Capitol Mall Sacramento’s signature street.

Imagine if, instead of six lanes of roadway and a barren grass median strip, we put the roadway where the median strip is now and widened the sidewalks on either side to fill in where the current roadways are. Then we’d plant a second row of shade trees, put the new streetcar line connecting downtown with West Sac in the middle, and line the sidewalk with cafes similar to the outdoor café at Il Fornaio in front of the Wells Fargo Building. Voila! We’d have the most beautiful and vibrant sidewalk cafe district this side of Paris—and an instant venue for arts and major special events.

With the Crocker Art Museum and Old Sac close by and several attractive new office and condo towers lining the street, the resources are in place to make this dream a reality.

Most of the city’s efforts at downtown redevelopment have centered around K Street, long considered Sacramento’s “Main Street,” a label I have never understood, since J Street/Fair Oaks Boulevard and Capitol Avenue/Folsom Boulevard are, in fact, the two main east-west arteries in Sacramento. Unfortunately, despite millions invested to date, K Street between Seventh and Ninth is still plagued by divided ownership, lack of investment and vagrancy problems.

The pedestrian/transit mall concept has yet to flourish on K Street, though efforts are still under way to stimulate the street with new retail, housing and performing arts venues.

Meanwhile, just two blocks away sits Sacramento’s most prestigious address, Capitol Mall. Unlike K Street, this one-mile corridor between two fabulous bookends—the State Capitol and Tower Bridge—is a very wide street with unlimited possibilities. But in its present sterile state, it is a gross underachiever.

For many years, the state of California completely controlled the mall as a state highway, with six travel lanes and a large, barren median strip, ostensibly to preserve views of the Capitol. Until recently, this wide street was adorned with nondescript state and private office buildings. Despite its views and location, it was one of the last places on Earth you’d think of taking a leisurely promenade.

Several years ago, the city acquired the mall from the state, allowing the city to make significant changes to the street as long as we preserve the Capitol view. Because of its proximity to the Capitol, its unparalleled breadth and views of both the Capitol and Tower Bridge, it has been attracting a lot of private investment, starting with the Emerald Building and Wells Fargo Tower about 20 years ago, and more recently the ongoing construction of two new Class A office towers and plans for several signature condo towers, including Aura Tower, designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Liebeskind. Although John Saca’s two-tower concept has gone awry, CalPERS is bringing in a seasoned developer, CIM, to do a landmark building at the west end.

The time is now right for the city to partner with the property owners along the Mall to develop a new vision, along the lines of the ChampsÉlysées in Paris, the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, the Ramblas in Barcelona, the Paseo del Prado in Madrid or my personal favorite, the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence, which has the added feature of cool bubbling fountains throughout the boulevard. Sacramento currently lacks a grand avenue with sidewalk cafes and shops where pedestrians outnumber motorists.

Sacramento is no longer a small town or a collection of suburbs. We need to start thinking longer term about the kind of amenities that will make Sacramento a great city for decades and centuries to come. A great city must have a great center.

But Sacramento currently lacks a grand avenue with sidewalk cafes and shops where pedestrians outnumber motorists. Not a narrow K Street pedestrian mall, but a grand, tree-lined boulevard used by streetcars, buses, pedestrians, cyclists and, yes, even cars, but with sidewalks wide enough to accommodate thousands of pedestrians. Capitol Mall once hosted the mother of all parties to celebrate the Allied Victory in World War II.

It is time to regain that magic on the mall once more. This renovated Capitol Mall would fit well with other major redevelopment projects downtown, such as the railyards, with plans for beautifully restored historic buildings serving as markets and museums, thousands of new residents, hundreds of new shops and restaurants and a new performing arts center alongside a lively waterfront. Nearby, both sides of the Sacramento waterfront are being designed for mixed uses and open space, while the Richards Boulevard area, now known as the River District, will also be converted to a lively new mixed-use district of residences, offices and retail.

Adding to the Central City’s parks and open space is also critical. The south bank of the American River in the Central City has retained its natural beauty, but it has been blocked by industrial sites and landfills. The city plans to reopen access to uncover a whole new section of the American River Parkway, which will also be home to an expanded zoo and freshwater aquarium, and other attractions.

These are just a few of the things Sacramento has in store in the 21st century as we live up to our vision of being America’s most livable city.

Let me know what you think. I can be reached at 808-7003 or

Thursday, August 02, 2007

East End Gateway Update

- SITE 1: 16th and N -

Looks like CADA and Lambert Development have reached an agreement on site 1.

Unit Count: 122
Studios - 12
Townhouses - 4
1 BR, 1 Bath - 27
1 BR, 1.5 Bath - 21
2 BR, 2 Bath - 48

Estimated Height: 6 to 15 floors, or 80 to 150 feet, reflecting the height limits established under the Capitol View Protection Act for this site
Acres: .33 acres (370 DUA)
Retail Space: Approximately 4,500 square feet
Parking: Approximately 175 - 204 spaces
Estimated Development Costs: Approximately $69 million
Projected Sales: TBD. All units will be for-sale market-rate condominiums.
Projected Construction Period: November 2008 - July 2010 (20 months)

Upcoming Milestones and Opportunities for Public Comment:
* August 20 - NAG Area 1 presentation
* August 21- EEG Site 1 CADA Open House
* August 28 - CADA begins circulating EIR Notice of Preparation
* September 28 - CADA Board reviews and comments on conceptual design and accepts public comment at CADA Board meeting
* December 7, CADA board approves Design Concept and financing strategies
* December, January, February - City Commissions review design at public meetings
* March 2008 - CADA board approves Final EIR and Development and Disposition Agreement

"You're invited to a community meeting to hear about Lambert Development's plans to build a 15-story condominium project on CADA's East End Gateway Site 1, at the NW corner of 16th & N streets.

Lambert's architect, Carrier Johnson, will present rough sketches showing the size and scale of the proposed project and seek comments from members of the community. Please come and share your thoughts."

"DATE: Tuesday, August 21st
TIME: 6:00-7:30 pm
LOCATION: To Be Determined. Please call Marc De La Vergne, CADA Project Manager at 322-2114 , or check CADA"s website ( closer to the date."


-Site 4 at 16th and P-
The concept from Lambert Development is for 55 units and 4K in retail space. Design will come forward if CADA extends the ERN on Sept 28th. Architect is Carrier Johnson


- Sites 2 and 3: 16th and O -

Site 2 and 3 are moving along as well with Ravel Rasmussen Properties and Domich Real State. Architect is Chong Partners.

The developer is submitting schematic design documents, budget, and schedule for review by the CADA Board on August 24.

Site 3:
60 Apartments
48 - 1 Bedroom / 1 Bath
12 - 2 Bedroom / 2 Bath
7,200 Retail Space
Projected Construction Period: Mid 2008 - Mid 2009

Site 2:
24 Apartments
12 - 1 Bedroom / 1 Bath
12 - 2 Bedroom / 2 Bath
6,400 Retail Space
Projected Construction Period: Mid 2008 - Mid 2009