Saturday, October 31, 2009

10th & K Street Hotel Project

It looks as though Toni Giannoni will continue to pursue building a 165-room hotel in downtown Sacramento at the corner of K & 10th Street even though the 8th & K hotel proposal is still moving forward. It’s anticipated to be an urban style Marriot designed by the renowned hotel designer Marc Hornberger who has also designed the W hotels in San Francisco. This hotel concept includes a pool, approximately 8,000 square feet of meeting space, and downstairs bar and lobby area with grab and go food service, as well as ground floor retail along K Street. The proposed Courtyard by Marriot would be a 12-story, upscale, select service hotel with a sophisticated urban design.

The development team is the 10th and K Street Hotel Investors, LLC, which is a partnership of local developers with a strong track record of development in Sacramento. The partnership includes Brian Larson who was part of the development team for the Citizen Hotel, Jim Brennan who recently completed the office condominium project at 1001 K Street, and Toni Giannoni who has a long development history in Sacramento including Meridian Plaza and the recently completed Marriott Residence Inn at 15 th and L Streets.

The total development cost is estimated to be $43 million. In today's capital market this project can expect to attract an estimated $22 million in conventional financing and $11 million in equity investment, leaving a development gap of $10 million. City staff has begun researching public funding options to assist in the development of this project.

On Tuesday November 3rd, the city will authorize city staff to evaluate several options to fund the gap of $10 million with the posibility of a Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) fund or to also use the Recovery Zone Facilities Bonds made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The bonds allow for lower financing rates, but require some sort of financial backing from the City or the Agency. City staff is working with the City Treasurer, the Budget Office, and the City Manager to investigate the possibility of utilizing this unique bonding opportunity.

Another option is a HUD 108 loan for approximately $4.7 million combined with a second loan for the remaining $5.3 million. City staff would also investigate potential resources within the City and Agency that could be utilized as capital for the second loan.

In either financing scenario, the City or Agency issued bonds or loans would be repaid or the payments pledged would secure the developer's financing.

If the City Council approves the recommendations to move forward, this will allow city staff to further investigate the financial feasibility of the hotel project so that more formal business terms can be presented at a later date. With this authorization, the developers would expend funds to further refine the hotel concept and result in moving the proposed project forward.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Powerhouse Science Center - Help Needed!

It's been a while since I've posted, but I wanted to post an article from Sacrament Press regarding the Powerhouse Science Center proposed for the old PG&E building on the riverfront.

I'd like to encourage anyone who has an interest in this project t0 toss a few bucks their way to help the Powerhouse Science Center continue forward. I donated $25 and hope others will do the same.

This would be a great project for our area for both residence and visitors.


Science museum seeks seed money
by Suzanne Hurt, published on October 27, 2009 at 8:51PM

The Powerhouse Science Center is looking for a few good founding partners.

The Discovery Museum is trying to recruit private investors who can provide seed money to help build a $50 million "iconic" riverfront science and space museum hoped to rival some of the nation's biggest science museums.

The new, expanded museum is being developed to provide adventurous, hands-on science and math education to boost kids' interest in the subjects and to help draw high-tech companies — while launching the kind of serious waterfront development that's been talked about for at least three decades, museum supporters said Tuesday.

The four-acre campus would contain a museum built in the long-vacant Pacific Gas & Electric power station, a planetarium, river-view restaurants, conference center and small amphitheater within Robert T. Matsui Waterfront Park, north of Old Sacramento.

The project could be one of the best investments for the future of the city, region and beyond, said Sacramento County Supervisor Roger Dickinson.

"This center can become the place where our very youngest Sacramentans get excited and enthused about math and science," he said.

A capital campaign stalled by the recession has pushed an opening date to fall 2013.

At a breakfast presentation Tuesday morning, Discovery Museum Board President Michele Wong asked investors, including developers and representatives from banks and high-tech companies, to each contribute $25,000 as founding partners "to keep this project going forward."

The campaign needs $600,000 in cash within the next three months to stay on schedule and continue pursuing $30 million from federal, state and local public funding sources, she said.

"We started a traditional capital campaign three years ago. Then the floor fell out of the economy, and we realized a traditional campaign wouldn't work," she said.

The museum will resume its pursuit of $20 million in private investments after the economy improves, Wong said. Construction is expected to begin late next year and be completed in about three years.

Studies have shown that science centers like these raise students' math and science scores. Sacramento teachers have told staff that museum field trips increased their students' interest and hard work in the subjects for the rest of the year. Former students returned to say the Discovery Museum influenced them to go into science in college and careers, said Catherine Gray, director of the museum's Challenger Learning Center.

The Challenger Learning Center, designed with NASA, uses space flight to encourage students to study and use math, science, language arts and technology. Six weeks of learning in the classroom is rewarded and reinforced with a "mission" involving "mission control" and a simulated rocket.

"It's really great to see how they change from being a kid to an astronaut with a job to do," Gray said. "They have no idea they're doing their schoolwork for the morning."

The Discovery Museum, 3615 Auburn Blvd., focuses largely on school groups, whose students make up 50,000 out of 80,000 annual visitors. The 4,000-square-foot museum, which has room for one major exhibit at a time, isn't open to anyone but students every morning, and only three groups can be accommodated at a time.

While the Discovery Museum offers programs and attractions for families and adults, the size of the four-story Powerhouse Science Center will enable the museum to triple the number of visitors each year. The center will have exhibits on the human body, the world and space.

Another building will house restaurants and an education center where traveling exhibits from museums like the Smithsonian Institution will be displayed. A conference center is planned to serve as a gathering place for teachers and people working in science and technology.

"We know there's a lot more we could be doing, but we lack the space to do it," Wong said.

The new museum will house a three-story rocket where boilers and turbines were once housed in the old power station's atrium. The rocket commemorates Aerojet's role in the U.S. space program.

"That's really Sacramento's connection to the moon," said Beth Callahan, the museum's development and marketing director.

The 150-seat planetarium will be twice the size of the existing planetarium and the building will contain a larger Challenger Center. The new basement will contain an expanded, indoor archaeological dig site, replacing an outdoor site. The dig site will consist of four dirt pits, each three feet deep, where students will dig for remnants of Native American civilizations, the Gold Rush era, Chinese camps and the turn of the century.

A staff archaeologist will teach students how to do soil sampling and use the scientific method to uncover artifacts donated by other museums. Back at school, students will give oral presentations on the artifacts, she said.

"It's so important that we can give these kids practical knowledge," said Stacey McKinley, who chairs the museum's government committee. "They really have to put their hands in it. Then they'll believe in it and fight for it."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Waterfront Activities

Take in the natural beauty of the Sacramento River while enjoying some of Sacramento's great restaurants.

Delta King's Pilot House Restaurant
1000 Front Street / 441-4440Situated on the third deck of the historic Delta King riverboat, the Pilothouse provides spectacular views, with seating indoors or out. Here, you will savor local California farm-fresh cuisine.

Joe's Crab Shack
1210 Front Street / 553-4249If you're looking for a casual, fun Sacramento River dining experience, Joe's Crab Shack will fit the bill. With buckets of crab and dancing servers, you're sure to have a good time at Joe's. Indoor and outdoor seating available.

Rio City Café
1110 Front Street / 442-8226Rio City Café, situated in historic Old Sacramento overlooking the Sacramento River, offers California Cuisine with influences from all over the world and extra emphasis on the southwest. Indoor and outdoor dining available.

Tower Bridge Bistro
100 Capitol Mall / 326-5050Located inside the Embassy Suites Hotel adjacent to Old Sacramento, the Tower Bridge Bistro offers California-Tuscan cuisine in a scenic setting. Both Indoor and patio seating are available.

Riverfront Bike Trails

Located at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers, Downtown Sacramento provides bicycle access to the riverfront. Cyclists can access the northbound/southbound bike trail along the Sacramento River via O Street or in Old Sacramento on Front Street between L and I streets. The southbound trail will lead you to the Miller Park. The Northbound trail will lead you towards Richards Boulevard, Discovery Park and the 23-mile American River Parkway that stretches from downtown to Folsom.

Sacramento Region 511
American River Parkway


On a summer day in Sacramento, one of the best places to be is on the water. From personal watercrafts to guided boat tours and charters, the scenic Sacramento River has what you need for a little fun in the sun.

Miller Park
This city park is located right on the Sacramento River, just south of Downtown. The park includes picnic areas shaded by large oak trees, boat trailer parking, a boat ramp and dock. For more information call 808-5200 or visit the City of Sacramento website here.


In cooperation with the City of West Sacramento across the river, the City of Sacramento is working to expand access to Sacramento's namesake river. Currently on the Sacramento side, visitors can walk along the waterfront from O Street to I Street through Old Sacramento. On the West Sacramento side, visitors can catch some of the best views of the downtown skyline by visiting Waterfront Park between the Tower Bridge and the I Street Bridge.

Information provided by Downtown Sacramento Partnership

Monday, October 19, 2009

Community Theater Renovation

The Sacramento Community Theater has been in use for 35 years and has not upgraded since it’s opening in 1974. The Theater still hosts world-class events but a renovation is needed by adding additional restrooms, concessions, lobby space, and infrastructure to meet the needed of and expectations of today’s audiences and clients. On Tuesday the 20th, the City Council/Financing Authority will accept the current Community Center Theater Renovation Project conceptual design and issue a Request for Qualifications for architectural services to complete the design work. A contract for construction could begin as early as June 2011 and continue work through the summer. The Theater will remain open for each theatrical season (Sept. through June) but closed during the summer months with heavy construction taking place spreading construction over multiple years through the summer of 2014.

The Theater will be financed using bonds from future bonds issued by the City of Sacramento Financing Authority. Bond repayments will come from a $3.00 per ticket where approximately $1 million will go toward the bond payment of $3.7 million annually and the remaining $2.7 million coming from Transient Occupancy Tax and Convention Center User Fee proceeds.

The current renovation will re-configure some existing spaces and add approximately 15,000 new square feet to the building. The total costs of the project are estimated at $40 million with $34 million towards construction and $6 million for design costs.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Architects chosen for new Sacramento courthouse

Friday, October 16, 2009
Published in the Sacramento Business Journal

Nacht & Lewis Architects and HOK have been chosen to design a new courthouse in Sacramento, the Judicial Council of California’s Administrative Office of the Courts announced Friday.

The $500 million project is scheduled to start in 2012, though no location has been set.

The new courthouse would take pressure off the overcrowded Gordon D. Schaber Courthouse on 9th Street in downtown Sacramento. The plans call for building 35 courtrooms in the new facility. Twenty-six of the 44 criminal courtrooms at the existing courthouse would be relocated to the new facility.

The new courthouse will be funded under Senate Bill 1407, which was passed by the Legislature last year and established a lease-revenue bond fund of up to $5 billion to rebuild courthouses in California.

Nacht & Lewis was founded in Sacramento in 1922 by Leonard Starks. The company’s portfolio includes the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Sacramento and the Sacramento County Jail.

HOK is an international design firm founded in 1955 by George Hellmuth, Gyo Obata and George Kassabaum.


It would appear that we might see a nice looking tower with both N&L and HOK working on this one. Sacramento's Federal Courthouse is a nice addition to our skyline, but I don't understand why they chose to ignore the northern side facing the Railyards but make the southern side stunning with the curved glass and interesting detail near the top of the tower. Sacramento architecture in the last ten years has focused on making the southern facing side of a high-rise striking while forgetting to give the same treatment to the northern side. I was once told “It is a fallacy to assume that good design has to be expensive” and in this case there is no excuse for not making this building impressive.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Midtown development back to square one

Published Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009
Sacramento Bee - Bob Shallit

Another planned midtown condo and rental project has hit a now-familiar snag: no financing.

Last summer, a partnership headed by Sacramento architect/developer David Mogavero was selected by the Capitol Area Development Authority to build a complex at 16th and P streets. The project's innovative features included a dorm-like rental annex and a hydraulic-stack parking system.

But the partnership "came up against a brick wall" in terms of getting capital, Mogavero says.

Now, CADA's board is asking Mogavero's group and two other developers who were project finalists to revise their proposals and try to find financing.

"We're saying, 'Let's start over and let all three get a shot at it,' " says Tom Kigar, CADA's development director.

The three including D&S Development and SKK Developments have until Dec. 20 to submit new plans and get commitments from lenders.

Kigar says CADA's preference is still to have a for-sale housing component in the project. But he says the group's board is being flexible.

"If somebody comes up with rentals that would be converted to ownership later, that would be acceptable," he says.

Bay Miry, a representative for D&S, says flexibility could help. But it may not be enough, given the dismal financing climate.

"Every bank we talk to says they haven't made a construction loan in a year and a half," he says.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Downtown Plaza Visioning Meeting

Monday, October 19, 2009
5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Cosmopolitan Cabaret Theatre
1000 K Street (10th & K Streets)

Mayor Johnson has embarked on an effort to reposition the Downtown Plaza as a sustainable regional center and further capitalize on Downtown's strengths. He wants to hear priorities from community stakeholders about the future of the Plaza and the surrounding J, K, and L streets. The result will be a vision to help guide the area's future development.

You are encouraged to attend the community meeting to learn more about the process and share your valued opinions for the future of Downtown Sacramento!

If you have any questions or want to learn more about this process, contact R.E. Graswich, Special Assistant to the Mayor, at

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

K Street Streetscape Progress

The K Street Streetscape Improvement project is one of the key components in returning K Street Mall back to a lively and inviting pedestrian street. Today I walked by St. Rose of Lima Park section and saw a lot of progress in the renovation. One part I’m thrilled to see is that Sacramento has final embraced some in-ground water fountains that people will able to play in during the summer as well as just watch the fun display of water dancing. The master plan also calls for the RT platform station on K Street to be moved around the corner to 7th street in an effort to move loiters off K Street. These phase one improvements of St. Rose of Lima Park and K Street between 7th & 8th Streets will cost around $4 million and be paid for by Merged Downtown Redevelopment tax increment funds.

At this point, I would really like to see the city focus on getting housing built downtown which I believe will spur other developments like a grocery stores and other retail that the area is also lacking. To do this the City Council could make a new provision when handing out subsides, and that only projects that include housing can be eligible for city subsidies. Also, asking for subsidies has become a common request by developers these days. This could start the ball rolling (even if it’s in small numbers) to get more people living here. These streetscape improvements should do wonders in how the street looks and I look forward to being able to sit back and watch the dancing water while new life returns to K Street.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Rezoning the Docks Properties

The proposed Docks project nested between Interstate 5 and the Sacramento River, will be heard by the City Planning Commission on the 8th for a motion to pass the rezoning for future urban development consistent with the 2030 General Plan. City Staff will also recommend that Option B to be chosen in how the 29 acres are developed which including 1,000 residential units, 200,000 square feet of office space, and 43,300 square feet of retail space. A formal recommendation for Option B will be made the City Planning Commission next month and then the City Council for approval in December. Option B was determined to be the most cost effective plan to retain Pioneer Reservoir and build the park over the reconstructed roof. The plan proposes constructing a parking facilities underground and elevate the finished floor of the buildings to be level with the existing levee, so the natural feature of the Sacramento River will be visible to the tenants in the future buildings and to area visitors.