Monday, March 29, 2010

The View

From atop the Hyatt, you can see far and wide.

To enlarge, please click on photo.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Rubicon’s “The AuthentiCity” Proposal

With this proposal, Rubicon Partners went all the way with a bold plan that includes both high density housing and civic amenities center. Their plan is to develop both the 700 & 800 blocks of K Street in four phases. The first and second phase are on the 700 block called Merchants Square and includes 400 residential units, 2000 seat entertainment venue, 125,000 sf. of ground floor retail, grocery store, and an activated alley. Phase one would begin immediately if this proposal were chosen.

Phase three would include a California World and Agricultural Center focusing on agriculturally oriented office tenants in a 250,000 sf. office tower. This block would also include a year-round Marketplace called “The Boqueria” where culinary products and education would be on display. Phase four would include a 150 condominium and 375 hotel rooms in a single tower.

The Rubicon Partners proposal is about three times as big as any of the other proposals and has lots of clever components that make it stand out above the others. Having the project phased in of over many years is also a smart move by the developer, this leaves the developer some wiggle room in case the economy doe’s not rebound like some are predicting. My biggest question about this proposal is, can Sacramento support something this large? After watching many other condo/hotel/office projects fail to get off the ground during our last economic boom when financing was much easier to come by, how will this fair any better? Above all, can Sacramento support something of this size? I know Sacramento deserve a world class project like this, but is it something enough people will want to buy into? In the last 2 ½ years The L Street lofts have only sold about 30 of its 92 units and it’s in a vary desirable mid-town location. In comparison, who does the developer think will want to buy 150 high end luxury condos on K Street? Who exactly do they see filling up another 250,000 sf of office tower? What stores will open up to fill 125,000 sf of retail across the street from the dying Downtown Plaza?

I could go on and on but I think you understand where I’m going with this. Unless there are guarantees made that this whole proposal would be build, (and we all know that can’t happen) I just don’t see how the Sacramento market can support this. What if only phases one and two get built but the hole in the ground at 8th & K gets abandon because expectations far exceed what the market can support? I would love to see this happen, but unless their proposal comes with lots people to buy condos, rent office space and retailers on a waiting list to be part of the project, it looks to be to far-fetched for me.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

David S. Taylor Interests, Inc. 700 & 800 K Street Proposal

This proposal redevelops both the 700 and 800 blocks of K Street. All structures on the 700 block would be renovated for mixed-use retail with the addition of retail kiosk. The 800 block on the corner of 8th & L Street would include remodeling the Bel-Vue Hotel and opening it up for low income residents. A combination of new construction at the corner of 8th & L Street that would also extend into the renovated Bel-Vue would add an additional 54 housing units with retail at the ground level. The north corner of K & 8th Street would include a new four level building that includes mixed-use retail and 66 market rate housing units. Taylor’s plan also includes renovating both the Kress building and Montgomery Ward building for an additional 45 additional housing units; however, they have not been able to establish a viable financial model for this larger vision. Their goal is to join the Kress and Montgomery Ward buildings with the new building at 800 K Street to form a block of housing, retail and tenant parking. The ground floors of Kress and Montgomery Wards as well the K Street and 8th Street frontages of the new construction would be continuous retail except for residential entries on 8th and 9th Streets.

David Taylor has an incredible track record of getting projects done in Sacramento when others can’t quite make it happen. Although I’m not always a fan of how they look aesthetically, his ability to follow through as promised can not be over looked. Because not all the rendering for the proposal are available, I can’t say yet weather I will like it or not. From the looks the one rendering that is available, it appears to look similar to “800 J” which was completed just a few years ago. I hope (if chosen) this K Street proposal looks better than “800 J” which lacks any architectural personality. The buildings function is exactly what downtown needs, but it’s unfriendly cheap looking street appearance is not what K Street needs. By the looks of the vague rending provided, it appears vary similar to the monstrosity on J Street.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

D & S Development Promenade on K Street Proposal

This proposals modest in size and flash but doable as a project that brings everything downtown needs to get more activities in the area. The Promenade brings retail using the original historic fabric of existing K Street on the 700 block, adds additional sidewalk seating and bicycle parking, adding kiosks to partially separate the pedestrian and light rail tracks to bring the vitality of the retail out into the street.

In an effort to develop a retail atmosphere, the developer plans to remove the inefficient rear 66-feet of long narrow retail spaces at mid-block. The remaining, shallower, 94-foot deep retail spaces will be rent to specialty retail shops. Within the rear 66-foot space carved from the inefficient portion of the existing structures, garage accessed from the alley will be created with a new secured bicycle and motorcycle area and parking for 92 vehicle. Above the parking will be four levels of high-density housing with a portion of the retail structures in the center of the block to create a green roof. Most dwelling units will be between 480 and 1200 square-feet with a total of 136 housing units and 37,480 sq. ft. of retail space

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bridge Housing Corp. K Street Proposal

Bridges proposing a multi block, mixed use, mixed income residential concept that encompass three new buildings, a renovated Bel-Vue building plus the adaptive re-use of the adjoining Kress Building. The proposal would introduce over 360 units of “green” housing, 33,000 square feet of street facing retail, 48,000 square feet of professional office, 34,000 square feet of terraced open space to the Downtown Area. All new construction will be LEED Silver or Green Point equivalent incorporating sustainable and healthy building materials, solar panels, energy conserving lighting and glazing systems. If this proposal is chosen, construction for phase one would begin in March of 2011 and finished in Fall of 2014. Phase two would begin construction in Spring 2014 and completed in 2016.

This is a well thought out proposal with parking tucked into the structures hidden from street view. I also like that renovations are planned to both the Bel-Vue and Kress Buildings, these are structures that need to be preserved so that Sacramento doe’s not lose some of these unique historical buildings to further deterioration.

Monday, March 22, 2010

K Street Projects Revealed

Rubicon’s “The AuthentiCity” Proposal

Both details and rendering have emerged on several proposals put forth to develop both the 700 and 800 blocks of K Street with Sacramento’s Rubicon Partners showing the most ambitious proposal of them all. The Rubicon’s proposal includes building 400 mixed-income residential units and 150 luxury condos, 2,000-seat entertainment setting, grocery store, a 35,000-square-foot farmers’ market, 375-unit hotel and 125,000 square feet of retail spread over two blocks. The developer named this proposal “The AuthentiCity”. This has got to be boldest of the four proposals with a team that has experience doing projects including The Citizen Hotel as well as both 2110 L Street and 1801 L Street which are high-density mixed-use.

700-800 K Street, LLC
David S. Taylor Inc. has proposed a mixed retail-office development for the 700 block of K Street for about 50,000 square feet of retail and 57,000 square feet of office with the storefront fa├žades retained. Taylor’s proposing 54 low- to moderate-income residential units by joining new construction to the existing Bel-Vue apartment building, and 66 market-rate units in a new four-level building with a rooftop courtyard garden. The team, which includes CIM Group, Domus Development and Zeiden Properties, is proposing a total of about 23,000 square feet of retail on the 800 block as well. This projects probably more doable than the Rubicon’s proposal judging by the rending but it’s a safe bet that having David Taylor take on this troubled area means it will get done. Their experience includes Sheraton Grand and 800 J Lofts here in Sacramento.

Mixed Use Development – 700 and 800 Blocks of K and L Streets
Bridge Housing Corp. of San Francisco along with Saca Development and Bagatelos Development, LLC has proposed building 360 “green” housing units, 33,000 sq. ft. of street facing retail, 48,000 sq. ft. of office space, and 34,000 sq. ft. of terraced open space and courtyards on all three development opportunity sites. Bridge Housing has lots of experience but none to speak of in Sacramento.

Promenade on K Street
Sacramento’s D&S Development competing for just one of the parcels and has a concept of 136 housing units in a four-story building known as “Promenade on K Street”. The proposal recommends removing the rear portion of the long narrow retail space to create 37,480 sq. ft. of more desirable retail space. The space created along the alley would become a four-story residential building over podium parking to provide for 136 new affordable housing units. The development team has received Letters of Intent from several retail and entertainment tenants. D&S Development experience includes Old Sac iLofts, Globe Mills, and the Historic Maydestone Apartments set to begin construction in Summer 2010. D&S Development has also lined up financing with Umpqua Bank and Wells Fargo Bank.

The teams will present their projects to a five-member panel Thursday the 25th which could lead to a recommendation to the City Council on a preferred choice by May. The winner could be awarded millions of dollars in redevelopment funds to bring its project to fruition.

More info about the proposals here

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bicycles on K Street

Next week the City Council will remove bicycle riding restrictions on portions of the K Street Pedestrian Mall from 12th Street to 7th Street. This will allow bicycle traffic throughout K Street with the exception of Westfield Downtown Plaza. Allowing bicycles on K Street will provide a safer environment for slower, more casual riders than the faster J and L Streets.

A stakeholder group was assembled who discussed at length the safety concerns associated with this project. The stakeholder group consisted of representatives from Regional Transit, the Police Department, a representative from the Disabilities Advisory Commission (DAC), Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates and Economic Development. The stakeholder group identified several safety concerns when mixing light rail, bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

• The light rail tracks are a potential fall hazard for cyclists.
• Potential pedestrian/bicycle conflicts.
• Lack of signalized intersections for bicycle crossing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Arena Proposals Down to Three

Today the Sacramento Arena Task Force announced their favorite three choices to build Sacramento a new sports and entertainment arena. Developer Gerry Kamilos appears to have the strongest proposal which involves having the Cal Expo fair grounds move to Arco Arena in North Natomas, then selling the property to private developers, using the proceeds of that sale to help build the arena. However, Kamilos plan lacks any explanation on how a new Cal Expo would be paid for with the sale of the old Cal Expo land being used to build a new arena. This should be a question the City Council should press Gerry Kamilos on, where’s the estimated $100 million + going to come from to rebuild the State Fair grounds?

The two other proposals also chosen by the panel were the Thomas Enterprise Railyards project and a plan by developer Ali Mackani to build an arena with shopping, dining and a public park at the site of Westfield Downtown Plaza. An oral report will be made to the City Council on Tuesday the 16th.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Restoration of Historic Mayes Jewelers' Street Clock

This Tuesday the City Council will recommend the preservation and restoration of the Fred Mayes Jewelers' Street Clock at the corner of 10th and J Street. With the efforts of both Greig Best (an interested citizen), the City's Historic Places Grant Program, Council Member Tretheway's office, and the Redevelopment Agency, funds will be designated to restore this City designated Landmark. Its ownership will also be formally transferred to the City through the Department of Transportation since the street clock is located within the public right-of-way.

The clock will be restored to the style as modified while at its' original K Street location by Tom Monk (the neon ring addition) before the clock was moved to its current location in front of the former Fred Mayes Jewelers store on J Street and then designated as a City historic Landmark. Mr.Best of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors have committed to assist in the project and to install the new timepiece (the"movement"). The Department of Transportation will contract for the clock removal and repair work, and will extend an electrical line so that the clock face and neon lights can be illuminated at night.

It’s estimated that the removal, repair and reinstallation of the Clock could be completed in the amount of $24,000. The restoration of the clock would be funded with $12,000 from the Historic Places Grant Program, $6,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds (per recommendation from Council Member Tretheway, District 1), and $6,000 from Merged Downtown Redevelopment Project tax increment funds (from funds allocated for J,K, and L Street Enhancements). The Clock was originally manufactured in Seattle, likely in the early 1900s and was once owned by a former Mayor of Sacramento, Tom Monk, and was located in front of 1009 K Street near the current site of the Crest Theater.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

626 I Street Rehabilitation Project

This 12-story mixed-use building at 626 I Street will soon start receiving a needed renovation in an effort to bring the property up to current market standards making it ready for occupancy by extremely low income elderly persons. Constructed in 1975 for the Housing Authority, the first three floors are office/commercial, while floors four through 12 provided 108 housing units for elderly and/or disabled families. Over the years, reduced federal funding and insufficient annual public housing capital funds delayed the renovation of major systems including roof, plumbing, electrical and asbestos abatement.

On Tuesday the 9th, Sacramento City Council will vote to fund this project with $19.4 million in grants to modernize the vacate building. Most of the funding will come from the Federal Government, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). In June of 2009, the Housing Authority was awarded $4.6 million for the renovation of units. In addition, the Housing Authority received Council approval to seek funding for the 626 I Street project through a competitive ARRA Capital Funds Recovery Competition (CFRC) Grant. The ARRA competitive grant required a 25 percent match of non-public housing funds. In September 2009, the Housing Authority was awarded the maximum grant of $10 million for the substantial rehabilitation of the 626 I Street Project. The Housing Authority of the City of Sacramento was the only entity in California to be awarded funds through this grant and the awarded amount constitutes 20 percent of the national funding allocation.

The scope of work will include roof repair, window and window wall system replacement, water penetration prevention measures, building sealants, replacement of utility infrastructure (water, sewer, storm drain, and natural gas), and new electrical and mechanical systems. The project when completed will consist of 108 units for occupancy by extremely low income elderly persons in September 2012. No start date for renovations has been given yet.

Friday, March 05, 2010

R Street Improvements

This May construction will begin on the first phase of a four-phase revitalization of R Street in downtown. Phase one of construction is to implement parking restrictions along R Street at an estimated cost of $4,362.00. When finished, this project will improve the streetscape with new roadways and sidewalks along R Street between 10th Street and 13th Street. Based on a request from CADA and feedback from property owners and businesses, parking restrictions will be implemented prior to the start of construction allowing the City to move forward with Phase I of the project and minimize the impacts to neighboring businesses, property owners and customers. The project consists of replacing the asphalt and concrete roadway section, placing raised pedestrian walkways and valley gutters, installing industrial looking street lighting, and providing 90 degree and parallel parking along R Street.

In response to a-request from CADA on behalf of the businesses and property owners, a letter outlining the proposed regulations and soliciting comments was sent to the businesses and property owners that would be impacted by the changes. Of the 57 businesses and property owners in the impacted area, 46 (81 %) responded. 34 (74%) of the respondents voted in favor of the proposed changes and 12 (26%) voted against.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Concepts submitted for K Street

The City of Sacramento has received four proposals to develop portions of the 700 and 800 blocks of K Street that are owned by the city. Each proposal will be assessed by committee of both city staff and private parties starting on March 15th and after the initial review more details about the proposals will be released to the public.

The four teams interested in developing K Street are the Rubicon Partners, developer of The Citizen hotel, David S. Taylor Interests Inc. and CIM Group, Bridge Housing, an affordable developer from San Francisco, and D&S Development, an infill developer that has done projects around Sacramento, most recently at 14th and R streets. All developers have a history of development in the Sacramento area.