Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Arena Proposals

The Mayor made a call out in November for prospective developers to turn in their ideas for a new Sacramento arena by December 24th and seven proposals were received. Of the seven ideas by developers, one over-view site plan was released and in my opinion we can go nowhere but up from here. Above is a plan by Tripp Development/Cachet Realty Group, Inc. and it looks as though it might have been whipped together in a matter of minutes before hustling it down to City Hall.

The Tripp Development plan includes The Towers as if there is still a chance they will be built… but they died three years ago. I also wonder why this rending which was done with a ball point pen also includes a deck over I-5 when just a few months ago the city cancelled pursuing that idea after more than ten years of study. My last thought on this rendering is that it looks as though it was an after thought and hardly something of any merit, I can't imagine any of the others presenting their ideas in this same format. It was only a few weeks ago The Capitol Creative Collective in partnership with The Downtown Sacramento Partnership hosted their first Idea Fair on vision for future downtown development. I think the Mayor should also talk to these guys to see what they come up with… all of whom will also pitch their ideas for free.

In the end it’s all about where the moneys going to come from to pay for the new arena. In the last ten year nearly all but one of the seven proposals submitted to the Mayor have been proposed before. Their is one new site proposal for the The Docks area which doe’s not make any sense when just a few weeks ago the City Council approved both the plan and EIR for the Docks to be developed.

Here is a list of the seven new arena proposals as described by the Sacramento Press.

Thomas Enterprises, Inc. and Team, Sacramento Railyards

The offering proposes to build on years of planning by the city of Sacramento and combines regional mass transit, large-scale community events, arts and entertainment venues in the city's downtown and region.

The Kamilos Company and Team, Sacramento Railyards

The proposed entertainment and sports complex will be located on the city-owned property, south of the newly aligned railroad tracks, within the Railyards Specific Plan.

Tripp Development and Team, Westfield Downtown Plaza

The development location is at the northeast corner of the intersection of Third and L streets, on the site currently owned by the city and developed as a multi-level parking facility.

M&M Group, led by Matt Haines and Team, Sacramento Docks Area

The Docks Area is located in Downtown Sacramento, adjacent to the central business district defined on the north by Capitol Mall, on the east by the I-5 freeway, on the south by Broadway and on the west by the Sacramento River. Immediately north is the Historic Old Sacramento District.

Doug Tatara, Cal Expo

This proposal includes a theme park and arena at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds location.

Natomas ESC Partners and Team, Natomas

The site proposed is the city-owned 100-acre property adjacent to and north of the existing Arco Arena and just south of Del Paso Road, minutes from Downtown Sacramento and five miles from Sacramento International Airport.

Ali Mackani and Team, Westfield Downtown Plaza

(The proposal is) centrally located in the heart of Sacramento’s downtown on the current site of Westfield Plaza’s east end. The plan proposes an extensive retail experience, dining options and a public park.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sacramento Skyline Sunsets

These were taken in September from the roof of the L Street Lofts at L & 18th Street. Please click to enlarge

Thursday, December 17, 2009

City Council approves Docks plan

The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday approved both the plan and EIR for the Docks to be developed next to the Sacramento river as well as the rezoning of 29 acres to general commercial from heavy industrial.

The specific plan for the Docks includes:

• 1,000 residential units;
• 200,000 square feet of office;
• 43,000 square feet of retail.

Adoption of the plan allows for a shovel-ready site when the market for development improves.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Westfield to step aside from Downtown Plaza

This has got to be the Mayor's biggest achievement of his first year in office but it's far from anything but talk at this point. Till a buyer is found who will pay Westfield asking price and also wants to dump millions of dollars into transforming the mall into something better, it will be many years till anything positive happens there. Congratulation Kevin, I hope you can make this work.

The following was posted on Mayor Johnson's website:

One interesting challenge of my job in Sacramento’s weak mayor system is dealing with high-level people from around the world. Frankly, it can be helpful when world-class executives overlook the fact that Sacramento has a weak-mayor government. Sometimes, it’s best not to dwell on our city’s weakness. A case in point is my dealings with Westfield, the world’s largest retail mall operator.

For years, the relationship between Westfield and City Hall could be summed up with one word: Disagreeable.

No more. I am proud to say I have developed a positive, special relationship with Westfield. I can meet with top executives and talk business on a level playing field.

This shows how personality can triumph over charter limitations.

The relationship with Westfield is crucial because Westfield controls a key part of our city – the Downtown Plaza shopping center, exclusive of Macy’s.

As Westfield’s position in the mall struggles, downtown also struggles.

My talks with Westfield executives were crisp, efficient, always respectful and professional. That’s how Westfield operates.

Simply, I asked Westfield to step aside from the Downtown Plaza if the company wasn’t in position to invest at a significant level. Obviously, I don’t want our city held hostage.

To its credit, Westfield agreed.

The next steps will be critical. Months ago, I assembled a team of city experts to create a new vision for the K Street corridor, including the Downtown Plaza.

Our team listened to public testimony and came up with an inspiring vision that includes reconnecting the downtown grid from the Sacramento River to the Convention Center.

Westfield shared some of the vision, but had concerns. Obviously, our dream is expensive. But we are not talking about wallpaper and light fixtures. We are talking about a re-imagined downtown: a huge project creating economic development and thousands of jobs.

Again, Westfield stepped up and said they respect Sacramento enough to cooperate in a sale or search for new investment.

Now it’s up to me to find the right investment and development groups to buy Westfield’s positions in Downtown Plaza.

These deals can be very complicated. We have a long way to go.

But the victory here is that the city and Westfield are approaching the future as partners, even if we agree to part ways. Westfield wants downtown to prosper even if the company leaves Sacramento.

That’s what relationships are all about.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

8th & K Street Hotel Proposal Update

A revised proposal by USA Hospitality, Inc. and their equity partners Consus Asset Management and Industrial General has been submitted for building a Marriott Renaissance Hotel at the corner of 8th & K Street. The new proposal includes a decrease in the number of hotel rooms from 409 to 300, and a decrease in the number of parking spaces from 372 to 350 while adding 100 condominiums on top of the parking garage as a second phase of the project. The total cost to build the project went up from $137 million to $162 million along with the needed city subsidy to build from $31.5 million to $33 million. The developer has asked that the city give them the land which is city-owned for free, and to forgive taxes on the hotel for the first few years of its operation as part of their needed subsidy deal.

The property has been tied up for 14 months in an "Exclusive Right to Negotiate" with USA Hospitality, Inc., but on December 8th the city staff will recommend releasing the Request for Qualifications for the 700 and 800 blocks of K Street with a due date of February 12, 2010. It’s anticipated that the city staff could return to the Redevelopment Agency by early April with several other proposals for the 8th & K Street site. In that time USA Hospitality must do three things.

1) Obtain stronger financial commitments from all equity financial partners.
2) Developer conduct an assessment of the Bel-Vue to determine the costs associated with preserving the fa├žade.
3) Complete negotiated business terms for inclusion in Disposition and Development Agreement.

I still don’t see the value in the city giving away $33 million in land and future taxes when just two blocks up the street at 10th and K Street Toni Giannoni is asking for $10 million to build a 165-room hotel that better fits our market. Toni also has an excellent record of finishing projects downtown where there are more development regulations that can tie up a proposal. In the case of the 8th and K Street design, the developer has a half block to work with, so instead of a massive parking garage the parking should be spread out over the entire half block above the lobby and ground floor retail but below the hotel rooms like has been done with ten other high-rises in downtown. If the city can nudge the developer to do this sort of design instead, the proposal would actually be shorter but the curb appearance would be far nicer. We don’t need another 6 story car garage at the corner of 8th & L Street; car garages have a history of deadening side walk activity for entire blocks and devaluing distinctive corners in our city. I hope both our City Council and planners consider the consequences, there is no need to repeat mistakes of the past again.

City owned parking garage across from city hall at 10th & I Street