Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Renderings for Downtown Plaza Makeover

Here are the latest set of renderings for the makeover Westfield is planning for Downtown Plaza.

You can find a detailed report and renderings from the Design Review meeting:
Westfield Downtown Plaza Remodel

It seem like renovations would definitely open up the J and L Street, and well as 4th and 7th. That has been one of my biggest complaints about the current look, its a bunker.

I do like the theater at J and 4th. I would have preferred 7th and K like was planned what seems like years and years ago. Theaters draw lots of people, esp mainstream theaters.

The grocery store is also much needed if more housing is going to be built in the area down the road. I still don't know how wise it is to use a lot of redevelopment money here right now. I still thing the general economy in that area should be the focus, when that improves it makes DTP and other retail project that much more likely to succeed.

Also, considering Target is going to redo the Broadway Target...why would they want a brand new on just a mile or so away?

City considers eminent domain for K Street

Late get this up, but IMO, They should have done this last year when Mo started his latest crap. Continuing to negotiate with him will yield the same results as the past 10 years. The games he's playing need to stop now.

Hopefully this means they will just buy him out instead of the swap. By buying the property, you lessen Mohanna's grip on DT that much more.

City considers eminent domain for K Street

With no development agreement in sight, landowner vows to fight attempt
By Terri Hardy -

As the future of struggling K Street hangs in the balance, Sacramento city leaders said Monday they are moving to wrest control of key blighted properties from landowner Moe Mohanna and his team.

Following years of talks on development plans, nasty court battles and no agreement in recent negotiations with Mohanna to jumpstart revitalization, the City Council will vote Dec. 11 on using eminent domain, Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said.

At the same time, Dangberg said the city would continue working for a settlement to avoid taking the property.

"We believe it's necessary to move forward on all fronts," Dangberg said. "K Street is too important."

The Mohanna team will fight the eminent domain attempt, said Myron Moskovitz, the partnership's attorney. Moskovitz said the group was stunned by the city's tactics because it believed a deal was near.

"Wham, out of the blue, the city pulls this," Moskovitz said. "I'm sure the city is expecting that (Mohanna) will roll over, but that's not going to happen. They're not going to condemn that property."

Even if a compromise could be crafted, Mohanna's team has no developer on board. John Saca pulled out of the partnership in late 2006, and Mohanna is in discussions to bring a builder and developing consultant on board, Moskovitz said.

At the heart of the battle between the city and Mohanna is a complex land exchange focusing on properties on and near the 700 and 800 blocks of K Street.

Under the original plan, Mohanna's team would develop the 800 block of K Street with condos and retail.

Another development group, led by Joe Zeiden, owner of the Z Gallerie furniture retail chain, would revamp historic buildings on the 700 block and bring in retailers.

The city already has spent $24 million acquiring some parcels necessary to the swap and relocating tenants.

In recent negotiations, Mohanna said he wanted to develop the 700 block, but that request was rejected, Moskovitz said. Then, he said, Mohanna put together a plan with retail, parking, potential residential and a grocery store, but the city said it wanted a scaled-back proposal.

"Moe puts together this beautiful, beautiful plan, and the city says no, they want something small with four or five stories, a minor project," Moskovitz said. "Moe then says he wants the potential for a future high-rise and (City Manager Ray) Kerridge said we'd meet to discuss engineering details."

Since September, Mohanna and his lawyer have had several meetings with top city officials, including Kerridge, Mayor Heather Fargo and City Attorney Eileen Teichert.

"In my opinion, the time has come for both parties to reach agreement during the next two weeks or ask the City Council at the Dec. 11 hearing to start the legal process to acquire the properties," Kerridge said in a news release.

Business leader John Lambeth, a minority partner in Mohanna's partnership, said in an e-mail he has not been involved in the negotiations, and he's disappointed progress has not been made.

"I will continue to make sure that my minority ownership will not be an impediment to the much-needed redevelopment of K Street," he wrote.

Talks between the city and Mohanna about revitalizing his properties began in 2001, said Leslie Fritzsche, the city's downtown redevelopment manager.

After threats of eminent domain were used, Mohanna put together a development team, and the council decided on using both Mohanna and Zeiden to transform K Street.

Last year, Mohanna and Zeiden agreed to the land swap. However, the deal unraveled last November after a fire damaged buildings on the 800 block. The buildings were later demolished.

Mohanna and his team declined to move forward, arguing that the property value was lowered and the exchange would not be fair.

In February, the city sued Mohanna and his team, asking a judge to compel them to complete the land swap. In August, a judge ruled the city wasn't likely to prevail in the lawsuit because the properties Mohanna was to receive had undergone a "material adverse change."

The city in August said it would pay Mohanna's partnership $11.6 million for his properties, but that offer was rejected, Fritzsche said.

The overarching lawsuit continues.

On Monday, the city amended its complaint against Mohanna's partnership, asking a judge to order them either to move forward or officially terminate the agreement.

"We've been in limbo," Dangberg said.

In the meantime, Zeiden's plans are on hold. Because he does not control the 700 block, Zeiden had to cancel preliminary commitments he'd captured from retail tenants.

If the council moves forward with eminent domain, it would add yet another legal layer to the city's dealings with Mohanna.

The eminent domain request would go before a judge for approval, a step that could take six to eight months, Dangberg said. If the judge approves the request, development could proceed while a jury deliberated on the amount to pay the landowners.

Negotiations could continue this week. But Moskovitz vowed the partnership will file additional lawsuits against the city, saying the threatened condemnation means Mohanna will be unable to secure long-term tenants for his properties.

Mohanna already has sued the city to recover damages, including the loss of thousands of dollars in rent from tenants the city evicted.

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

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Living Green at 9onF

There are many cool infill projects going up in the grid and this is one of them. Not long ago I got to go on a tour of the 9onF townhouse project located on the 1400 block of F Street and walked away impressed. 9onF has nine eco-friendly homes squeezed onto what had once been vacant lot for decades. From the street there are two Victorian and contemporary styled homes and then behind them are seven more townhouses that fit snug into the court yard and alley.

In these times where going green is a BIG plus, this new community fits the bill. All the units are certified LEED-H from silver to gold. The project even has a geothermal heating and cooling water system which is the ability to heat and cool your home with the earth's groundwater. There are also a number of other green features in this project like non-toxic products, eco-friendly resources and many other energy saving features.

The location is also great, 9onF is only a few blocks from lots of restaurants on the 16th Street and J Street corridors. With so many other big projects getting the spot light in the midtown area, I thought this project was unique in it's green ways and also needed to be featured. I hope to see more eco-friendly green projects like this.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More bars and restaurants on the way

Dream Lounge at 15th Street between and J and I, along with Whiskey Wild Salon at 19th and Q opened this week in downtown and Midtown. Both of which had lines out the door this weekend.

Dream is definitely the more higher end of the two, with Whiskey Wild Salon being the much more casual bar with live music and a come as you are more "Wild" environment.

Two totally different places, so your choice which one fits your personality more.

Along coming next year are California Pizza Kitchen, Flemings Steak and Wine bar, DeVere's Irish Pub and lounge by the people at Mason's at the site of the old Firestone Building at 16th and L Street.

That Irish Pub is calling my name already, I can't wait.

Fortunately, I drove by the site today and they have the entire area finally fenced off after a year or so of waiting, so looks like improvements are on the way soon. Hopefully it can be open by the holidays next year.

Dream Lounge


Firestone Building Rehad


Whiskey Wild Salon (Taken from Blogging The Grid)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

On The Rise on Capitol Mall

The tower at 500 Capitol Mall (Bank of the West Tower) has started to rise out of the ground this week. The 25 story office tower will have 467,942 sf of office space and 27,124 sf retail space. The $115 million tower is expected to be completed in spring of 2009.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Aura Could Still Be Built?

Just when we thought the door had been closed on any chances of Aura being built... developer David Taylor has said that he's interested in possibly building the Aura tower. I heard about this several months ago... so now will have to wait and see.

$400K to design a high rise? Would you believe $300K? $200K?
Sacramento Business Journal

Friday, November 2, 2007

The break between Craig Nassi and the architects on his proposed Epic condo tower in downtown Sacramento didn't come out of the clear blue sky.

Nassi had twice bargained down the fee owed to Studio Daniel Libeskind and Stantec Consulting Inc. for the tower he hoped to build at 12th and J streets before the designers ended their agreement for non-payment, the design team said.

Nassi, of BCN Development in Denver, last paid $187,000 in 2005 for the design and owed about $400,000 for later work, according to a letter from a lawyer representing the designers. He got a reduction to $300,000, then to $200,000 paid in installments over eight weeks, but failed to deliver, the letter said. That led the designers to pull the plug last month, which in turn led to yanking the application.

Nassi said Epic isn't dead, just on hold. "We don't feel comfortable spending a lot of money on architecture and design when we don't know if we'll ever be able or when we'll be able to do this project," he said. He said he's an expert in financing such projects and "the financing's not there ... right now."

Libeskind was also the architect on the proposed Aura condo tower.

And speaking of Aura ...

Developer David Taylor shared a closely held secret with about 650 people a few weeks ago -- he is considering whether to take on the long-delayed Aura condos project on Capitol Mall downtown.

Taylor, a guest speaker at the Business Journal's economic forecast conference on Oct. 24, said he could decide by the end of the year if he'll develop the property he owns at 6th and Capitol that once was slated for the $175 million residential high-rise. Nassi and BCN have not secured financing for Aura.

Nassi had an option on the land owned by Taylor, who is finishing the 25-story U.S. Bank Tower next door. But with Aura stalled -- the city withdrew a $10 million loan offer and deep-pocketed lenders are passing in the project -- plans for the high-profile site are uncertain. "It got a lot of interest from buyers," Taylor said. Downtown's "first high-rise condo tower will be very well done."

Promise or speculation? Taylor said he would not decide, or comment, until the end of the year.