Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Status Report: 800 K/L Proposal

Last night the Sacramento City Council discussed the future of the proposed 23 story hotel and parking garage at 8th & K/L St. by developer Bob Leach/USA Hospitality. The last time Mr. Leach was to appear before the Council two weeks ago, he asked for a delay because his proposal was going to be slammed over the financing for the proposal. This time he came back to the council offering 40% of cash flow instead of 10% over 10 years and asking for 50% of the Transient Occupancy Tax rebate over 14 years instead of 100% over 10 years. USA Hospitality’s now asking for $31.5 million subsidy from the city in an effort to make this project feasible. After a few council members made their opinions known about keeping the fa├žade of the Bel-Vue by incorporating it into the hotel project, the council agreed to a 90 day extension to see if USA Hospitality can pull things together and make this project work.

It looks as though the 90 day extension may have ended Tony Giannoni hopes to also build a 165-room hotel at 10th & K Street. A spokesman on behalf of Mr. Giannoni told the council that if they gave a 90 day extension to the 8th & K St. hotel proposal, they would see that as a sign to drop their project because the market could not support both projects. If after 90 days the USA Hospitality’s bid gets rejected by the council and the other proposal at 10th & K has already withdrawn their plans… we could be left with no new hotels on K Street.

This project still has to go through the Design Review Commission and Planning Commission as a part of the entitlement process. If this current design with the separate parking garage manages to be approved by both the Planning Commission and Design Review Commission, it will demonstrate in my opinion that neither the Commissions or the City Council really understand their roll in helping both designers and developers comprehend the rich context of this unique place in our city.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

City Council Hotel Subsidy Vote

Last Tuesdays the 8th & K Street hotel subsidy vote was delayed by a request of the development team, the proposal is now scheduled to be heard on Aug. 25th. This delay will now will give the public more time to make their opinions heard as to why this proposal is a bad deal for the city from an urban planning stand point with the enormous parking garage as well as the complete give away of land and tax dollars.

In my previous post, I listed several reasons why the city council and Mayor should not rubber stamp the project without major changes in how parking is treated. This seems to be the proposals worst feature, six floors of open, visible parking that destroys a whole city corner in doing so. Back in 1990, Lankford and Cook’s built 1201 K Street building (Ban Roll On) as seen below. Above the first floor there are five floors of parking that are covered and disguised so that it doe’s not detract from the building outer visage by tucking it into the structure. In doing this, the design shows concern for its impact on the street level and truly helps that tower feel inviting when walking up to it on the street.

This current 8th & K St. proposal appears to thumb its nose at the cities design guidelines and I’m wondering if the City Councils even paying attention? If this is something that concerns you, please take a few minutes to email both the city council and Mayor before the August 25th meeting. Instead of just rolling over and leaving it alone hoping that the Mayor and council speak up for changes, maybe we need to remind them to exercise some quality control and insisting that developers try harder.

Here are email address to both the City Council and Mayor. If you also feel the same way about this project, please let our officials know. A hand full of voices on this matter might empower our city’s bully pulpit to have a back bone on this more often.

Mayor Kevin Johnson -

Council Members
Ray Tretheway -
Sandy Sheedy -
Steve Cohn -
Robert Fong -
Lauren Hammond -
Kevin McCarthy -
Robbie Waters -
BonniePannell -

Saturday, August 08, 2009

8th & K Hotel $34M Subsidy

On Tuesday the 11th the city council will hear a pitch from developer Bob Leach to build a 409-room hotel on K Street. The proposal also includes a six story parking garage on the corner of 8th & L Street with future expansion of three stories of residential to be built on top of it later. This $136 million hotel project asking for $34 million in city subsidies, $14 million land donation plus $20 million in future tax forgiveness. This current proposal sounds similar to nearly every other proposal in downtown that can't be built unless millions are given to a developer in handouts from the government. Bob Leach has also teamed up with downtown businessman Mohammed “Moe” Mohanna on this proposal where last year he lost a law suite against the city for this same 8th & K St. property. This happen when Moe’s balked at an agreed apon property swap after a fire and then subsequent demolition of one of his properties.

The list is long in how may developments in downtown Sacramento have needed subsidies before they can even lift a shovel. It’s now become the status quo for nearly all projects in downtown to be built this way and I think it's absurd to pay no taxes when everyone else has to pay them. I also personally hate the idea of this parking garage even if a couple retail stores are to be included in the structure. The eight story parking garage at 8th & J St. has two retail shops on the ground floor but is a far cry from actually improving a dead zone created from the parking structure. There are numerus ways to tuck needed parking into the structure like has been done with many other towers in Sacramento. I think this proposal will look about the same as the 8th & J St. garage and will also cheapen a unique corner in the central city.

Here’s a Google street view photo of the garage at 8th & J Street that was built twenty years ago. It has two retail shops on J Street but you can hardly tell being that all you see is a lifeless structure.

Our city deserve something better, I hope our city council and Mayor also feel the same.