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.

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