Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fremont Park Public Meeting

Well, I haven’t been writing a lot recently, but here is why...

I'd like to bring people reading this back to a post I did back in Oct 2006 Buildings in Search of a New Life and the Call to Action

Toward the end of that topic I put it out there that what I would like more people in our community giving time and effort to causes that make our city better. I also mentioned that I would personally love in my lifetime to be someone that ‘walks the walk’.

Well, I started on that recently...and while I hope to do even more later on, I thought it this would be a great place to begin.

First a little background. My wife and I along with our 20-month old son live near Fremont Park, which we consider to be our backyard. We moved to the central city knowing we would not have a backyard, nor really wanting one. Our last home in Natomas had no real useful backyard and we both hated yard work. The trade off of a backyard we never really used for what we now enjoy with food, entertainment and culture within walking distance is well worth the trade off, especially considering we have parks all around us for our child to play in.

Our “home” park is Fremont Park and while my son loves the park as is, there has always been a feeling to my wife and I that it can be so much more and something really special for all people in the neighborhood. I strongly feel Fremont Park can be the centerpiece of what is a good neighborhood with an even bigger potential for greatness.

In addition to businesses already located around the park, as we see more housing, restaurants and retail develop in the area, such as 'Hot Italian' directly across the street, there is a tremendous amount of synergy to be had with a thriving city park in the center of it all.

The thought of people grabbing a frozen yogurt from Mochii Yogurt, coffee and scone from Naked Lounge, a slice of pizza, sandwich or gelato from Uncle Vito's or Hot Italian and taking it over to park to enjoy the day and socialize excites me. We don't see nearly enough of that right now.

So what I did was decide to figure out how I could get involved to make Fremont Park into what I think it can become. A thriving neighborhood park that is enjoyed by people from the neighborhood and surrounding areas through out the day.

With all that said, I feel like it is up to us in the community to take care of our park.

Over the past couple of months I have contacted CADA, City Parks & Rec, Councilman Fongs office, and fellow neighbors to see what can be done to improve on our neighborhood asset.

My goal is to parlay liked minded citizens, developers, property owners, area business and government entities in this effort.

People doing small and large things to help their community can do wonders for community spirit and pride.

After a couple meetings with the extremely helpful folks at CADA and City Park & Rec, we have set a community meeting for June 11th @ 6:00 at William Land Elementary School on 12th and U to hear what you in the neighborhood think and would like to see our park go in the future.

In the time leading up to June 11th, please be sure to take a walk through the park so we can get the best ideas and thoughts on what you would like to see accomplished.

-Dog Park?
-Better landscaping?
-Better playground equipment?
-Interactive water fountain feature?
-Improved restrooms?
-Public art and murals?
-Programming and annual event ideas?
-2nd Saturday 'Art in the Park'?

….and just as important as physical improvements, what social and psychological barriers are there that keep people from Fremont Park?

If we look at the transformation Southside Park has made over the last few years from a rundown park to a place where many people and families gather at all times during the can we do that to Fremont Park?

To make this happen, gathering other peoples input and ideas is needed. No one person has all the ideas and answers, and only together can we make this happen. What we need are people that share our same enthusiasm, are willing share ideas and to work toward this vision.

So please join me and fellow neighbors on June 11th as we all take this first step in making something special happen in our community.

If anyone out there has any questions/comments/ideas, please feel free to email me.

Friday, May 16, 2008

LJ Urban in West Sac

I am very interested to see how LJ Urban's projects in West Sacramento are going to reshape that area. They have been able to purchase quite a bit of land in the area so they are going to have a large say in how the area transforms.

With the river access, CalSTRS, Raley Field, Old Sac, and downtown/midtown so close, the location offers a lot of potential in time.

I had a chance to attend one of their event a few months ago and the impression I came away with was they "get it".

They were genuine in wanting all our advise and suggestions, and many suggestions/ideas people made were implemented. This isn't a 'come tell us what you think, but we really don't care we just have to do it' type of company. They get it.



Its Time…
May 15th, 2008

I feel like we have been getting ready for this moment forever, honestly for a little while I thought it would never come. But its finally time, and its for real.

LJ Urban is pleased to announce the first of our homes in our LEED ND certiifed Good project is ready for you to come check it out (or at least it will be next Saturday) The project is one of the first in the country to be finished under the LEED ND certification pilot program.

We are going to be hosting a sneak peak on the 24th of May where we are inviting you to come take a look for your self and see what we have been working on for the last 3 years. I can’t even begin to tell you what a big moment this is for all of us. We have been putting our hearts and tears (trust me there have been many) into making this the best most sustainable, livable, and just all around wonderful place in Sacramento.

We are happy to welcome the The Live Lightly Tour, a veggie fueled RV that Matt and Sara are driving around the country to help educate everyone on ways to live a more sustainable life style, they will be set up outside the project giving tours of their RV. Also we are going to be enjoying Organic Carribean food served by Kimba from Roots and Kulchah. And as if that was not enough Dusty Brown a local Sacramento musician will be setting the mood with his groovy music.

Its a sneak peak because we are not quite ready to start selling the homes. When we do start June 1st we are going to be coming at it from a whole different angle that you would expect. Instead of having an agent sit there for hours and hours every day wasting energy waiting for people to show up. We are going to be hosting “eco-urban 101″ dinners. The dinners are going to happen every few weeks and are going to be open to 10 people each time. At the dinners you will be able to learn just what is so different about eco-urban housing from the team here at LJ Urban and various other people who worked on making this project a reality. Its sort of a green building class, and will be open to anyone who is interested. We are not trying to sell the houses at these dinners but instead educate people on what we did to make this a sustainable neighborhood. We set out to change the world and want this project to be a beacon of sustainable building at its best. I am very excited about being able to tell the story of Good.

The sneak peak is going to be held Saturday the 24th from 10-2 at Good. Good is at the corner of 4th and B Sts in West Sacramento. We hope to see you there!

If you have not already, don’t forget to sign up on the Good project interest list so you will be kept in the loop about the next eco-urban 101 dinner. We expect them to fill up fast and are not going to do them all the time so if you are interested please don’t wait. There will be a sign up sheet in the Model on the 24th for you to sign up. Or you can email me at

City paves way for Greyhound to leave downtown

Here is the link to the staff report on the subject.

Richards Boulevard: That's the ticket
City paves way for Greyhound to leave downtown
Sacramento Business Journal - by Michael Shaw Staff writer
Friday, May 16, 2008

Greyhound is finally pulling out of downtown.

After years of failed attempts to move the terminal from 703 L St., Greyhound Lines, its landlord and the city of Sacramento have cut a deal to temporarily relocate it to Richards Boulevard and eventually into The Railyards.

City leaders say the terminal's presence in the business core has scared off redevelopment while remaining a logistical headache for the bus service, which must maneuver buses through congested downtown streets. Moving the terminal has been a top priority for city leaders for years -- at one point a total of 87 sites around town were examined, but plans seemed to invariably fall through.

The City Council will likely vote Tuesday on the deal, which would move the terminal to an interim facility to be built on city-owned land on Richards Boulevard. The city's long-term goal will be to eventually move Greyhound to the intermodal transportation facility envisioned for The Railyards, the massive redevelopment project sought by Thomas Enterprises Inc.

"This goes back more than a decade," said Sacramento assistant city manager John Dangberg, one of the officials who shaped the plan. "There have been lots of people who want to see this happen. It was a top priority when the Downtown Partnership was formed."

Mayor Heather Fargo announced the deal was all but done in January, only to have it slip when financial details needed tweaking.

"I think it's a great move for the city and a great move for Greyhound," Fargo said this week. "It's been a long time coming. It's a viable business, but it was difficult for our police force and their security."

Added Al Gianini, a past president of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership: "It's going to be an historic City Council meeting."

Under the deal, the city will buy out Greyhound's lease with landlord Danny Benvenuti for up to $1.4 million and spend an additional $1 million in infrastructure improvements for the new terminal at 420 Richards Blvd. The city acquired that property last year when it bought a nearby office building.

Benvenuti will develop the interim terminal, which could cost up to $4.5 million, and the city will retain ownership. Benvenuti's share of the improvements is $3.5 million, and the city will kick in $1 million more if needed. If approved by the Council, construction is expected to begin in September, and Greyhound will move in next year.

"We're happy that the city's happy," Benvenuti said, noting that the terminal's relocation became somewhat of a Sacramento saga over the years. "We're never excited to see a good tenant leave. Under the circumstances, it was inevitable."

The deal is set up to provide him a fixed 12 percent profit for developing the interim bus terminal. Greyhound pays Benvenuti about $39,200 a month to rent the L Street terminal.

Officials said the downtown location causes traffic congestion and the terminal's presence hampered investment in the area.

As for the L Street site, Benvenuti said he is in negotiations with a "major hotel operator" and forming a plan to demolish the terminal and build a hotel with apartments or condos on top.

He bought the property 19 years ago and has spent $200,000 over five years looking for a place to move the terminal. He found 87 locations, but each one was rejected. Residents didn't want the buses in their neighborhoods, the sites were logistically problematic, or other problems surfaced. That search even included the 420 Richards site, but former owners there wanted to build office buildings and wouldn't sell it, he said.

Dangberg said that once Greyhound leaves the interim terminal for The Railyards, the city could use the site for its own fleet of vehicles. But that building could eventually be torn down to make way for more office buildings.

The intermodal facility in The Railyards won't be built for several years because federal funding hasn't been secured, the city said. The costs involved are estimated at between $200 million and $300 million.

On Tuesday, the City Council will likely vote on authorizing $2 million in capital improvements for curbs, gutters and other improvements at Richards Boulevard and will vote on accepting the business terms with Benvenuti.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

City approves $2.2M to start Township 9 streets

Sacramento Business Journal

The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday voted to approve $2.2 million in transportation improvement funding for North 7th Street.

The street will be the primary access road for Township 9, a mixed-use redevelopment project the city has designated as its top priority for state Proposition 1C infill housing funds. The first phase of Township 9 is slated for 752 residential units, 139 of which would be affordable units, and 42,000 square feet of retail.

When the city put Township 9 forward for $30 million in Prop 1C funding, it pledged to make $2.2 million available for North 7th Street improvements.

Capitol Station 65 LLC, the developer of Township 9, plans to begin construction on the project this year to deliver the first housing units in 2010.


Good news for sure. Township 9 is starting to lead the way with real construction and hopefully the Railyards will follow soon.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Target out of Downtown Plaza Renovation?

Well, take it for what it's worth, but apparently Target has pulled out of the DTP renovation.

One of the food court vendors when asked about moving to the other side of the mall in a couple years, said who knows since Target has pulled out.

If this is true, I can't imagine Westfield pouring money into DTP without a signed major tenant

I always did find it curious that they would be willing to go into DTP when they are completely redoing the one on Broadway and have one in Natomas as well.

Target is hardly a sexy name and regional draw, but at least it would have generated some foot traffic.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

DRAFT: 2030 Sacramento General Plan

Today at Cesar Chavez Park the Planning Department unveiled Sacramento's DRAFT 2030 General Plan. There was a good turn out of people and lots of planning debt. staff to answer questions.

To learn more about the Draft General plan and offer input about the plan, check out this website.

DRAFT: 2030 Sacramento General Plan

Public comments on the Draft 2030 General Plan are accepted till until July 31, 2008.

Monday, May 05, 2008

From Office to Art

There are so many crappy office buildings in midtown, it would be a nice to see more of this.....turning boring dead office buildings into vibrant much needed space for local artists.

Perfectly located one block over from the 20th Street madhouse on 2nd Saturdays.

From midtown office complex to artists' showcase
By Bob Shallit -
Published 12:00 am PDT Monday, May 5, 2008

A down-on-its-luck midtown office complex is about to become an arts incubator where local artists can work, mingle with their fans and – ideally – make lots of sales.

Downtown art gallery owner Barry Smith has leased the two-story building at 2110 K St. from property owner Thomas A. Roth – and is busily subleasing studio space to painters, photographers and sculptors.

"I thought at first I'd have to build it – and then they would come," Smith says of his Sacramento Art Complex. The remodeling work's not finished but he's already leased nearly all of his 20 or so available offices.

Among the tenants: Noted landscape and dragonfly painter Steve Memering – whose image of Sacramento's skyline will be part of the building's signage.

Memering is taking a prominent space at the building's entrance and will paint "right in the front window six mornings a week," says Smith.

Another prominent tenant is Vicki Asp, known for her lush, impressionistic California landscapes.

Smith will occupy the largest office suite, where he'll display and sell artworks by renowned landscape painter Gregory Kondos, the late cityscape artist William Tuthill and others. It's the same mix of art – along with framing services – that Smith carries at his downtown location at 1020 11th St., which will remain open.

The new gallery is set to debut Saturday during this month's Second Saturday festivities.

"People will stroll in … and immediately be in a maze of fantastic art," Smith says. "It'll blow their minds."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Redevelopment Funds for Housing

Looks like the city is looking to make available 25M for housing development in downtown from the existing pool of redevelopment funds next Tuesday.

So far of the redevelopment funds used recently, there hasn't been as much used for new housing as I would like, which should be at the top of the list. So far I can't think of anything recent outside of the Berry Hotel rehab and The Cathedral Building loan.

Funds recently have been used for projects such at the Cosmopolitan Theater, The Citizen Hotel, loans for Ella and McCormick & Schmick, The Crocker expansion, and the stalled 700/800 K Street project. I wanna see the money used for housing now.

While I hope we see some large 100+ unit projects as listed in the staff report, I also hope smaller projects such as the Maydestone rehab at 15th and J get in on the action.

Proposals that will be accepted include:
*Rental or ownership housing - mixed-use, live/work, loft and adaptive re-use.
*New Constriction (30+ units)
*Rehabilitation (30+ Units)
*Adaptive Reuse (30+ Units)

Priority Given to:
*Mix of market rate and affordable housing units
*Located in JKL
*Superior sustainable urban design
*100+ residential housing units.

Fore more details, please click on the below staff report.
Downtown Housing Investment Strategy and Notice of Funding Availability