Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Sheraton Sale and K Street Mall

Well a few interesting tidbits from the city council meeting today.

First of all, the city agreed to sell The Sheraton and adjacent parking garage to David Taylor and CIM Group for 130M dollar. Of that money, the city is expecting a profit of about 45M. Not too shabby.

50% of that money will go to a fund for subsidies for Taylor and CIM projects. I still don't know how I feel about this. I'm all for a portion of the money staying downtown, but I don't like it pigeon-holed for Taylor and CIM.

I really do like Taylor and what he has done, but I not sure I feel it is right to earmark it just for him and CIM. Then again, he is one of the only people to really take risks and finish major projects in downtown recently.

There is a time line mentioned when projects need to come forward, so we'll see how that plays out. The first proposal is due within 150 days. My guess is it will be the 10th and K housing project that has been in the works for a while now.

What I did like was some actual real questions be asked about this and some healthy debate. There were several council members very uneasy about this and asked many very good questions. I don't view council votes 9-0 or 8-1 all the time a good thing as Fargo as does. A little dissent and arguing isn't a bad thing.

Of the remaining amount, 25% would go to the 'City Economic Uncertainty Reserve Fund' (or something like that) that would be used when budget problems occur, such as..um, right now!! Kinda like a rainy day fund as someone said. The other 25% to the city Parking Garage Fund

With that 50% that is marked for subsides, these projects were outlined as possibilities. Interesting to see 601 Capitol Mall on there (aka Aura).

I have some ideas of something I would like to see happen on K Street, of which I am going to try and get out this week to get some photos I need.

1. Property Location: 1012-1022 K Street
Project during the planning process will consist of rehabilitation of existing or construction of new buildings to provide space for Active Retail, with potentially office or residential uses on top floors. Ground floor tenants must be approved by the Agency and are expected to include restaurant, retail, and/or entertainment venues. It is too early in the process to fully define the Project; the actual uses will be determined during the planning process, and the following objectives will be considered.

• Retail tenants which are expected to bring activity to this block on evenings and weekends.
• Ground floor uses that are destination oriented, activate K Street, and further the goal of creating an entertainment district on this portion of the K Street Mall.
• Uses in these buildings that create foot traffic and a vibrancy that supports the current neighboring entertainment uses such as the Crest Theater, Pyramid Brewery, the IMAX Theater, and the Cosmopolitan Cabaret.

2. Property Location: 920-930 K Street
Located on the southwest corner of 10th and K Streets, the site may be redeveloped to include transient and/or residential occupancy over some combination of ground floor restaurant, entertainment, and retail uses. Actual components will be determined by the Developer and the Agency during the planning process, and the following objectives will be considered:

• Restaurant, retail, and entertainment uses which are expected to be active and provide energy to the corner of 10th and K Streets.
• Any hotel component would be of a quality and type that is affordable to and appeals to a younger business person.
• Potential for penthouse residences or condos, if feasible and market demand exists.
• Buildings of high quality architecture and urban design.

3. Property Location: 601 Capitol Mall
Potential Scope of Redevelopment: Principal improvements would include approximately 410,000 gross sq.ft. of residential and retail space (not including 110,000 gross sq.ft. of parking); 175-270 for-sale residential units; approximately 260 parking stalls; and not less than 5,000 sq.ft. and up to approximately 11,700 sq.ft. of retail space on the ground level.

4. Property Location: 830 K Street
Potential Scope of Redevelopment: Principal improvements would include approximately 22,800 net sq.ft. of either residential or office space (2nd and 3rd levels), and 10,195 net sq.ft. of retail space (ground level).

An interest note also came out in the form of Tony Giannoni whle speaking in favor of selling the Sheraton, also said he would be coming to the city with a proposal on K Street in the next month or two.

Not sure where Giannoni owns property other than 15th and K. Maybe he and Taylor are going to partner on something in which they can tap the 50% set aside for Taylor projects?

Either way I'm sure was all for what ever brings more reinvestment money in downtown since I'm sure his property in the area would increase as more investments are made.

I emailed Bob Shalitt at the Bee to sick him on this, so we'll see what he finds out.


Also on the agenda was the approval of the final design for the K Street Streetscape Improvements. Construction is expected to begin toward the end of summer, with the St Rose of Lima Park upgrade (which I really like)to begin after the Holiday Ice Rink season is over.

If you have not seen them yet, click on the staff report to view renderings. Here a couple I picked out though.

I do think until the 700 and 800 block is settled, this is 'lipstick pig on a pig', but I guess you have to start somewhere.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

St. Patrick's Day Parade - March 17th @ 6:00 PM


The 12th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place March 17 at 6 pm in Old Sacramento. The parade includes traditional entries such as Irish dancers and costumed marchers, school bands, floats, military regiments, police and fire representatives and other cultural organizations. Tartan clad Highlanders will march to the sound of bagpipes, while Irish dancers in elaborate Celtic costumes will perform, along with historic re-enactors from the Gold Rush and the Ophir Prison Marching Band.

Leading up to the parade, Old Sacramento will launch a “Go Green” campaign to encourage the public to not only wear green at the March 17 parade, but to also support a phone book recycling program. People are encouraged to bring their old phone books to the Old Sacramento Visitor Center, located at 1002 Second Street, starting March 1.

The parade is sponsored by Old Sacramento Business Association, Old Sacramento Management, The Shamrock Club, Mix 96, and AT&T Real Yellow Pages.


Old Sacramento streets will be closed as follows for the parade:

* 5:00 pm – No street parking - enforcement begins at 5:00pm
* 5:30 pm – ALL Old Sacramento streets closed
* 6:00-7:00 pm – Parade!
* 7:00 pm (approx) – Second Street and L Street re-open to vehicles
* 7:00-7:45 pm – The intersection of Front and K will remain closed while guests enjoy the post-parade music of the Ophir Prison Band
* 7:45 pm (approx) – All streets re-open to vehicles

Parade-goers are encouraged to park in the nearest City parking garage. The two closest to Old Sacramento are:

* The Old Sacramento Garage at 2nd and I streets
* The Tower Bridge Garage at Front Street and Capitol Mall

Monday, March 10, 2008

Chat with 'Movies on a Big Screen'

For those who do not know, Movies on a Big Screen (MOBS) is a local group that hosts independent film screenings and documentaries in Sacramento.

They have recently started up again in an old building in West Sacramento after having to leave their location in Midtown in the old Fool's Foundation site.

Films in the past that have peeked my personal interest included 'Chain' and 'Radiant City' which looked at topics related to this blog.

Future screenings include:
03/14/2008 - Abel Raises Cain
03/20/2008 - Zeitgeist: The Movie
03/21/2008 - American Carny: True Tales from the Circus Sideshow
03/28/2008 - Six String Samurai

Without the work of MOBS, there is a good chance these films would not be shown in Sacramento, even at The Crest or Tower. I encourage everyone to take a look at their website and find a film that has an interest to you, or just pop in one evening and seeing a different type of film.

I had a chance recently to ask a few questions to "Movies on a Big Screen" owners Robert and DeeAnn about how the they got started, where they are going, and the bumps in the road along the way.

"Movies on a Big Screen"
600 4th St - West Sacramento
(916) 484-0747


Respondent: Robert McKeown, Movies on a Big Screen

How did "Movies on a Big Screen" get started?

It really got started because my wife, and co-founder of MOBS, DeeAnn and I would talk about a lot of independent films and documentaries passing by Sacramento. We also wanted to attempt to bring more general, truly independent films to the attention of people. There were a few reasons for this, and not just from getting tired of people complaining about what they see at the megaplex, then returning the next weekend to see the same type of movie that they'll then complain about. We wanted people to see the variety that exists, both currently and in the past, within the world of independent film, so they might consider them more when looking at what they will buy when purchasing DVDs.

We also think that it is extremely healthy for a city to have this type of entertainment available. Keep in mind, we don't tend to show deep, artsy films (at least all that often). In one way or another, anything we show should make you think to a certain extent, but we try to feature titles that are for the most part, accessible for anyone - and frankly, some are, indeed, fairly escapist in nature.

We also always had the idea of trying to work with local groups, particularly with issue-based documentaries, and bring representatives out to speak from those groups when appropriate in order to involve the community at a different and deeper level. It was never the intention to do this (ie, speakers) on a weekly, or even monthly, basis, but where it fit to do so, then we really wanted to. We also try to work with schools, again, where appropriate and as time allows.

Anyway, so we talked to a few places about partnering up with them, but for one reason or another, they didn't pan out. We sort of were looking for a place for a number of months in 2006, but honestly, it was a pretty half-assed "search," as we had other things going on as well. I ultimately got in contact with Liz who ran Fools Foundation, as many people we knew also knew her, and after just a couple of discussions, it quickly became very clear that we shared very similar intents in this project. So Movies on a Big Screen began in conjunction with Fools Foundation in Sept 2006. Of course, after just shy of a year, Fools Foundation was shut down by the city.

- What is your main goal with this venture (other than to make a living)?

Making a living off of it would be great!! But I don't think that's to be, at least anytime soon. Really, our main goal is to keep showing the movies we show and keep trying to get as many people as we possibly can to go and experience what we screen in a communal setting. And to also provide some exposure to the films which we show.

- So why did you get shut down in the old Fool's Foundation location?

Hmm - well, we weren't the proprietors of Fools, so I don't feel particularly comfortable with expanding on why Fools was shut down by the city in too much detail, but it had nothing to do with safety of the place or anything like that. It had to do with bureaucracy in action more than anything.

- How is the new space in West Sacramento treating you?

It treats us OK! We actually love the neighborhood (and it's nothing like it used to be) as well as the neighbors there, most of whom we've met and talked with. The building itself is very old, and has its problems, but we try to ensure that it is kept clean and problem-free for folks coming to movies or the occasional other event that might happen there. It's truly a great space.

- Any plans on making back into the Grid? Have you been able to talk to any developers, building owners or the city about a much-needed small multi-purpose venue for smaller theater and art orgs?

Um - no comment? OK - here's a lengthy comment:

We would definitely have interest in showing movies back on "the Grid." We have spoken with all you mentioned, with a focus on those who publicly make statements about supporting the arts and a vibrant city. We are currently located at 600 4th St, West Sacramento.

Back to "the Grid" - plans? As I said, we'd definitely be interested in this - the problem that exists is somewhat referenced in your follow-up question, and particularly in the case of trying to do movies. Natural lighting is our enemy, and this can be problematic with a number of places that prefer natural lighting on a regular basis. That being said, we'd definitely have interest in returning there, although a fair amount of our audience did come from "off the grid" when we were at Fools Foundation.

In regards to your second question regarding the multi-purpose space - you've hit on something vitally important here, in my opinion. I firmly believe and agree with you that this is much-needed.

Have we spoken with anyone? Yes. I need to couch my words a bit here, but we've been left with a bit of an opinion that there is a whole helluva lot of talk from many sectors you're referring to within Sacramento regarding a strong desire to support the arts in all forms, but when it really comes down to it, at least some of those who have the ability to do so in a substantive way from the perspective of resources, won't act beyond the talk - except for maybe a certain few, select and prominent instances and support of places of the same stature. In my opinion, this ultimately does little for Sacramento, and certainly does little for the entities that need it most.

I do need to clarify one thing here. Of all of the folks who we talked to during our downtime following the Fools closure, who quietly stepped up to actually help in the end? LJ Urban. They knew the situation we were in (no venue) and actually delivered simply because they did not want to see Movies on a Big Screen gone from Sacramento.

Why was that? Because they truly felt it was important for the city. Did they even ask for any kind of recognition for the aid and contribution? No. We took it upon ourselves to make sure folks knew they came to our assistance. We personally think others in this town really could learn an awful lot from them - you can't just talk about support; you have to deliver it.

I really could go on - but will restrain myself.

- Where do you see this in 5 years? Any 5-year plan for the business?

Five years? Heh. Yeah, we might be able to get to some kind of planning along those lines with a stable venue. We would like to still be showing movies 5 years from now, though. And hopefully having people come out to them.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Capitol Mall & CalSTRS Construction

621 Capitol Mall US Bank Tower

They have started to partially light up the tower.

500 Capitol Mall

Cal STRS Tower in West Sacramento

Emerging new Sacramento Skyline