Tuesday, December 18, 2007

City authorizes eminent domain proceedings for K Street properties

'bout time...

I do hope the two sides can come to agreement, but this does give the city another tool to finally get something done on those two blocks.

During public comment, Sid Heberger from The Crest sounded like she wanted to reach over and hurt Moe.

Either way, its going to be a hell of a fight. There are other problems on that stretch, but this is by far in my mind the biggest.


K Street battle headed to court
Taking action against blight, the City Council votes to force big landowner to sell his properties.

Saying the blight on K Street has festered for too long, Sacramento City Council members brushed aside threats of a drawn out courtroom battle, voting unanimously Tuesday to start the legal process of forcing landowner Moe Mohanna to sell his properties there.

At the close of a bruising four-hour public hearing, Mayor Heather Fargo said she still hopes the city can reach an amicable settlement with Mohanna, but needs to have the tool of eminent domain at its disposal.

"The message that this sends is that the city of Sacramento is serious about K Street," Fargo said after the 9-0 vote. "K Street is going to be a retail street that people in Sacramento will be proud of, and we will do whatever it takes to get there."

he next step is for the city to convince a Sacramento Superior Court that the use of eminent domain is justified. Then, it would be up to a jury to decide how much the city would have to pay Mohanna for his nine properties on two of the bleakest blocks on the K Street Mall.

At Tuesday's hearing, four lawyers appeared on behalf of Mohanna and other partners in his properties. They challenged the city's characterization of the events leading up to the vote, saying they would use 13 different legal arguments to challenge it.

"You're going to lose … and it's guaranteed whichever way it comes out you're going to be in court a long time," said lawyer Myron Moskovitz.

"Your staff told you this is a way to speed this up, this is a way to get the downtown going quicker. It's exactly the opposite. This is the way to slow things down."

Moskovitz said his client should be given the chance to redevelop his own properties. "Moe's ready to go. He's ready to develop on his own."

A parade of prominent downtown developers, business people and civic leaders, however, urged the city to do whatever it takes – including exercising eminent domain – to move forward with redevelopment.

Joe Zeiden, owner of the Z Gallerie, plans to convert the historic buildings in the 700 block into a row that includes upscale retailers such as Sur La Table, Z Gallerie and Anthropologie.

Zeiden attended the hearing but didn't speak. His lawyer, Richard Hyde, told the council that "this city is fortunate to have a developer of this quality willing to take an interest in and redevelop K Street."

David Taylor, downtown's most prominent high-rise developer, said the picture was bleak. "I've never been more discouraged about K Street than I am right now, and I'm fearful that if you don't do anything tonight, you'll be in exactly the same spot that you're in five years from now, 10 years from now," he said. Taylor is a member of the team currently converting the old Woolworth store at 10th and K streets into a live theater and restaurant.

Rick Braziel, the city's new police chief appointee, said crime on that end of the mall has doubled in the past 10 years, mainly because of drug offenses and theft. "The 700 and 800 blocks of K Street are in need of an immediate and significant transformation from a public safety perspective," he said.

Also urging the city to authorize eminent domain were the operators of the Crest Theatre and the new Ella Dining Room and Bar on the K Street Mall.

Randall Selland, whose family owns Ella, came to the meeting in his chef's smock. He said the city needs more destination tenants, not more "lunch spots."

"It doesn't mean a little paint and spackle, which is what you've got going on now," Selland said. "You need something big."

A year ago, the city had in hand a signed deal with Mohanna and Zeiden to move forward with redevelopment on the two blocks. Mohanna had agreed to swap his properties on the 700 block with an equal amount of property on the 800 block. The city has spent more than $24 million to help Zeiden by acquiring properties that could be swapped with Mohanna's.

But a fire over Thanksgiving weekend in 2006 destroyed one of Mohanna's buildings in the 800 block. The city responded by declaring that the other buildings on the block were now dangerous and had to be knocked down.

Suddenly, Mohanna was faced with swapping a row of intact buildings on the 700 block with a hole in the ground on the 800 block. He balked, and the city is now fighting him in court to force him to follow through with the deal. City officials say the plan was always to demolish the buildings on the 800 block and build a new structure. But Mohanna had been hoping to rent them out until a development project made economic sense.

Mohanna and city leaders have been negotiating, but they have yet to agree on a new set of terms that would persuade Mohanna to go forward with the swap.

"If we had heard from Mr. Mohanna that he was willing to follow through," Fargo said, "we would not be here today."

Mohanna's representatives characterized the situation differently, saying the two sides had been close to agreement on a development project for the 800 block when the city played the eminent domain card. A meeting had been scheduled for January.

"Moe was furious, but he was still willing to go through with the meeting in January," Moskovitz said. "After today, I don't know."

The Metropolitan

On December 19th the Design Commission will possibly approve the Metropolitan for construction giving John Saca another chance to prove he is a big time developer. The proposal will be either 320 residential condominium units or 190 residential condominium units and 190 hotel rooms.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Hole on Capitol Mall

I took these photos last week showing some of the changes at the site. These billboards have been put up on every corner and are most likely going to have a mural on them to liven up the area. They have also cleaned up the construction site so that the $20 million already spent on piles and foundation work won't rot away over the next couple years. I hope the new proposal has some residential... more office space at this location so close to the river would be a waist.

Time will tell...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Going Places...

No midtown penthouse slump

Sacramento Business Journal
December 7, 2007

It's easier to sell a million-dollar home right now than one priced half that much, noted Sotiris Kolokotronis, the developer behind the L Street Loftsin Midtown, while giving a tour of the ballyhooed building that's nearing completion. When he launched the project, his colleagues told him he'd sellout before the paint dried. They were partly right. All but one of the 12 penthouses, priced at $749,990,have been sold in advance of completion -- including two of them to a buyer who plans to turn them into one large suite. But sales of the other units, starting at $389,990, haven't been as brisk. A total of 36 of the project's 92 units have been sold, according to HanleyWood Market Intelligence. The lofts will be largely finished by the end of theyear. Sales are still ahead of projected rates when the project wasenvisioned, Kolokotronis said.


Numbers like these should bode well for getting more high-end housing built in midtown. I've been lucky enough to go on a tour of the L Street Lofts and the penthouses are amazing. Not only is the view impressive but the layout of the two level floor plans are unique and creative too.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More Retail and Restuarants News

Some random tidbits and rumors I've picked up on various websites in case people have not seen them.

Lot of good stuff here. I could really go for a new Spanish restaurant though and a few new bakeries.


From "Appetizers with Mike Dunne"
Paragary in September is to open Cosmo's, a deli-inspired restaurant in the Cosmopolitan Building, formerly Woolworth's, at 10th and K in downtown Sacramento. The concept was inspired by the restaurant's proximity to another tenant in the building, Cosmopolitan Cabaret, a 208-seat venue run by California Musical Theatre, which in September is to launch a series of musical comedies in the space. Paragary's concept for Cosmo's is being inspired largely by theater-district delis in New York, but will be more than a sandwich shop, he notes. Paragary's executive chef, Kurt Spataro, is starting to research and assemble the restaurant's menu, including a formula for the establishment's own housemade pastrami. "We hope to be a real presence in the middle of K Street," says Paragary.

- Tuli Bistro, under construction for nearly a year at 21st and S, is to open for breakfast, lunch and dinner this coming Tuesday, Dec. 11

- Ju Hachi, Taka and Susan Watanabe's Japanese restaurant at 18th and S in midtown Sacramento, under construction for a year, now is expected to be ready for sushi enthusiasts in January.

-Brush up on your Portuguese. Come next summer, a churrascaria is to move into a former fitness center at 14th and H in downtown Sacramento. Basically, a churrascaria -- pronounced shoo-ras-ka-ria -- is a Brazilian steakhouse inspired by Portuguese methods of barbecueing. Meats on skewers customarily are cooked over charcoal or gas, then carved tableside directly onto plates. Service is "rodizio" style, or all you can eat for one fixed price.

From Skyscraperpage.com via "TowerDistrict" "Innov8"
and "Ozone"

-ICON is moving from the DTP mall and will join Aqua restaurant (of San Francisco) in the L Street Lofts.

-The Real Pie Co. is moving from F Street and a upscale/urban furniture store will join the new chocolatier that is opening soon in 1801 L.

*If you have not been here, you need to go. The pies are amazing.*

- Cheese and Champagne Bar in a MARRS project at 20th and K along with a newsstand that is opening the next door down soon.

-Patrick Mulvaney has purchased the auto repair shop on the corner of 19th/L and will do open a banquet hall for his catering business as well as creating a prix fix sit down menu.

--Le Petit Paris will be expanding as soon as the sales office for the L Lofts moves into their building (Spring) and they will be offering coffee and small french treats.

-Delite -a gelato and panini shop will be opening in late spring in the old Sakurabana space.

-Still very much a rumor: The building across from 19th/Capitol Building -home of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is going to be sold and converted to mix-use office/retail.

- Upper Playground out of SF at 25th and J:

World Wide Domination Continues
It continues... Upper Playground's quest for world wide domination is
sweeping faster than the invasion of Iraq. With five stores under its belt
already, U.P. is about to make it six, by conquering the city of Sacramento.
This makes the roster, San Francisco, Berkeley, Portland, London - England
and Taichung - Taiwan; enough to make even Ivan The Terrible proud.
To coincide with the Grand Opening, there will be a special exhibit featuring
the artworks of Sam Flores, Saber, Retna, Estevan Oriol, Date Farmers, N8
Van Dyke, David Choe, Mister Cartoon, Alex Pardee, Jeremy Fish, Vitche,
Mike Giant, San, Doze Green, and Herbert Baglione.

The Upper Playground Sacramento Store Grand Opening Reception will be
held Saturday, December 15, 2007 from 7:00 p.m–10:00 p.m.