Thursday, December 29, 2011

Court Rules to Kill Redevelopment Agencies

California's high court ruled today that California's redevelopment agencies can be dissolved by the legislature, but the state cannot force those agencies to make payments to other government funds,  Faced with a continuing budget shortfall, California legislators earlier this year passed a law dissolving local redevelopment agencies in an attempt to save money.

Another law, however, gave the agencies a chance to continue operating, on the condition that they pay $1.7 billion this fiscal year and $400 million each year thereafter to schools, transit and fire districts. The court also found that the dissolution law "is a proper exercise of legislative power." The funding law, however, violates the California constitution, it said in the ruling.

This ruling should stop work on several projects including 800 K Street that needs redevelopment funds to break ground.  and East End Gateway 2 and 3 in which CADA owns the land.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Downtown Sacramento Christmas Lights

It’s that special time of year on Capitol Mall and Old Sacramento, Christmas lights are up inviting people to walk a few blocks and the Capitol Christmas Tree is decked out in all its splendor. Over the last several years, it appears as if more lights have gone up to enrich the overall experience as an inviting destination to visit and enjoy. The Wells Fargo Center has done a fantastic job with a beautiful tree in the lobby and twinkling lights inside and out.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fall 2011 Construction Update

“Seventh & H" SRO - 7th & H Street, $47.4 million project. Expected completion date, Spring 2013

626 I Street Rehabilitation Project - $19.4 million. Expected completion date, Sept. 2012

La Valentina Station - 12th Street between D and E streets, $27 million project. Expected completion date, summer 2012.

Sutter Medical Center - L & 29th Street, $600 million project. Expected completion date, late 2012.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Old Sacramento Theatre of Lights

Back for the third year, event-goers will experience the Old Sacramento Theatre of Lights. Each night a symphony of lights, sounds and visual effects will take the audience back to a time when the beloved poem The Night Before Christmas was first introduced in Sacramento in 1857.

The Old Sacramento Theatre of Lights will run two 20-minute light shows at 6:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. every Thursday through Sunday until December 18. The shows will begin running every night from December 19-23 at the same times. The Christmas Eve show will only be at 6:15 p.m. New Year’s Eve will feature Theatre of Lights as an important piece of the overall fireworks spectacular with shows running later in the evening at 8:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Downtown Arena Funding

Reality hit the ThinkBIG supporters yesterday after city staffers published a report that discussed the selling of publicly owned parking spaces and garages for the next 50 years for upfront construction cash.  The report did not look good concerning three issues, privatizing parking will force visitors to spend more money to park their cars downtown, there will be $9 million dollar hole in the city’s general fund every year with no plan to replace it, and the original value that was earlier used for leasing away the parking rights was overstated.  

The report also pointed out that the leasing of on-street parking rights to build a new arena is not even legal according to current law and that the city has to pay off $52 million of bond debt before control could be handed over to any private parking company. Apparently, city officials are looking at ways to twist the law so that the leasing of on-street parking could be used to pay off this debt and opening the city up to lawsuits.

To top it off, the estimated cost of building the arena was increased by another $19 million over the past few weeks from $387 million to $406 million so that a VIP parking garage can be constructed on site. This number does not include the costs to build the necessary infrastructure around the site needed to support an arena, such as new water mains, improved roadways, and electrical capacity upgrades.

March is coming fast, I wish Ronald Burkle were an option.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Construction Set for EEG 2 & 3

Good news for 16th Street, after searching for nearly five years to obtain a construction loan, developers Ravel Rasmussen Properties and Separovich/Domich got approved for their Spanish-style residential and retail complex whose land is owned by the Capitol Area Development Authority. Later this month, construction will start on the two buildings that will house 84 apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail. Construction costs for the East End Gateway Sites 2 & 3 will be $17.5 million and should take about 16 months to complete.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Elks Tower Modification

Owners of the Elks Tower are asking the Preservation Commission to approve an exterior modification of the building by removing a 95 square foot enclosure at the 13th floor roof deck and construct a new 480 square foot enclosure.  

The plan involves the remove of an existing, non-original 95 square foot stair enclosure on the 13th floor roof deck that was installed in the 1970s, and construct a new 480 square foot enclosure. The enclosure will provide ADA access to the 14th Floor and slightly expand the footprint of both the 13th and 14th floors off the rear/east elevation of the structure. Though window glazing would be removed to connect the expanded floor space, the original window openings and original exterior materials would remain in place. Original exterior iron work at the window openings would be retained and used in the new space. The new work will be placed inside the north and south exterior walls and inset within the 12th floor roof deck on the east/rear side of the structure.

The Elks Tower was constructed in 1926 and became a designated City Landmark on June 15, 1982. City staff has recommended that the commission approve this request.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

CADA's R Street Warehouse

After 13 years of spearheading the R Street Warehouse project, the Capitol Area Development Authority has not been unable to get it financed. The six-story brick warehouse once had been planned for a $57 million condominium project with 122 units, now they say they are looking at building 100 apartments and a garage for $27 million. The new plans don’t include the warehouse but make plans to construct apartments on the empty lot next door at 12th and R streets.

The project, announced in 1998, are up against a critical deadline. If the project does not break ground by early 2013, they could loose a $5 million grant from the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Two local downtown developers (Bay Miry & Michael Heller) have said they would be interested in taking on the project if current developer Rick Holliday can’t pull this project together.

CADA has recently spent $6.5 million on infrastructure improvements along R Street, including sidewalks and new street pavement.

Sac Bee article here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SactoMoFo 3 - Saturday, Dec 3rd from 11am - 6pm


SactoMoFo (the Sacramento Mobile Food organization) has rounded up 8 Bay Area and over a dozen local food trucks, carts and other vendors (including San Francisco's JapaCurry, Hapa SF, Chairman Bao, An The Go, El Porteno, Seoul on Wheels and Bacon Bacon trucks, and many of your local favorites and lots of new local vendors - including Leila's Lumpia, It's Corn Cake, tacos, burgers, sandwiches, banh mi and more) for SactoMoFo 3, to be held Saturday, December 3, 11 am - 6 pm rain or shine at the Downtown weekend Farmer’s Market location (8th & W Streets, under the freeway) directly accross the street from Soutside Park.

Stop by for lunch and stay for dinner! No tickets, no fees, just lots of great food and drink!

Please note the SactoMoFo HoHoHoliday Brewfest at Power Balance Pavilion has been postponed until later in 2012. Maloof Sports & Entertainment, CBS Radio and SactoMoFo plan to hold a huge outdoor event, including beer tasting from terrific microbreweries all over California and other extras. Those who bought tickets can get a refund at the purchase location.

You won’t need a ticket for the December 3 event; admission is 100% free: just dress warm, bring small bills and a big appetite and get your snack on!

The December 3 event is a winter food drive for the Sacramento Food Bank and the U.S. Marines Reserve's Toys for Tots, so please bring canned or packaged dry goods and new unwrapped toys to donate.

Santa will also be available for photos with both little and big kids for a small donation to a local children's Christmas charity. Other entertainment include Willie's Woodshop , face painting, and ballon twisters, and DJ music.

Stitches and Dishes will also being raffling off a Wii bundle pack and game for stopping by their table. See you under the freeway!

Check out the event on the event Facebook Page

Friday, November 18, 2011

Railyards Owner Removes Consultant

It was only a matter of time before Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. canceled their consultant contract with Thomas Enterprises. Last month after working nearly ten years on the project the owners ended the contract which should rise questions as to what the future holds for the railyard project.
After Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. foreclosed on the property last year and took control from former owner Thomas Enterprises Inc. Inland agreed to keep the Thomas team on as consultants for at least six months. Currently there is $130 million in federal and state money building infrastructure within the 200 acre site, and there is word that Inland will reexamine the density of the project in light of changes to the real estate market, but there are no immediate plans to build. That could mean the project could see changes to the designs that have been refined over the past decade.

Currently, the rail track relocation is on budget and on schedule to have the new tracks in operation next May. This undertaking will open the property to auto traffic. Also in progress are three pedestrian tunnels and a new water main.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Capitol Mall Design Winner

Last night at the Wells Fargo Center on Capitol Mall, a winner was announced for the Capitol Mall Design competition receiving a $20,000 prize. The winners were Kimberly Garza and Andrew ten Brink with a design called Sacramento's Capitol Canopy. 

This ideas great but the urban forest on Capitol will violate The Capitol View protection ordinance established in 1992, which is both a state law and zoning ordinance. Like I mentioned before, growing trees down the middle of Capitol Mall will obstruct the view of the Capitol from the Tower bridge, which is what the state law and ordinance was designed to protect. The winner has the most affordable proposal with very few structures, but it goes against the Capitol View protection ordinance.

To read more about the winner go here.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Bridging I-5 Project

The city has completed the environmental documents and Project Report for the Interstate 5 Riverfront Reconnection Project (T15998100) and identified first phase elements for final design. The next phase of work required to move towards project construction and completing final design.

The City’s October 5th Preservation Commission meeting unanimously approved a motion to support the project, with recommendations to: Continue refining the design of the new 2nd Street/Capitol Mall intersection connecting structure and related fixtures per the concept design presented; continue to build upon the proposed preliminary design concepts that use design and materials vocabulary from the significant features, characteristics and spatial relationships found in the Old Sacramento Historic District, though consider simplifying designs of various elements and to reference, versus copy, historic elements.

Design the project to ensure the continuation and development of high quality historical interpretive and tourism events and programming in Old Sacramento. Coordinate final designs with CDD Preservation Staff, Staff from the Convention, Culture & Leisure Department including the City’s History Manager, and with staff from the Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Reduce the number of streetlights proposed on the new 2nd Street/Capitol Mall intersection connecting structure. Consider allowing the new N Street bridge’s structural elements be its design, versus through other fixtures or too many other fixtures on the bridge.
The “Bridging I-5” Project has a total budget of $5,330,512, consisting of local transportation funds, tax increment funding, federal funds and state funds. Federal demonstration funds for this project will expire October 2012. Staff is seeking an extension of these funds for final design.

Front Street/Neasham Circle
Front Street would be realigned, beginning at the existing intersection at O Street to the new Capitol Mall intersection, with a new viaduct constructed above the existing portion of Neasham Circle between N Street and Capitol Mall. This new viaduct is proposed to be approximately 40 feet wide and 380 feet long and would include one lane of traffic in each direction and a pedestrian sidewalk along the west side (see cross section on Figure 4). The existing portion of Neasham Circle beneath this new viaduct and would remain for bicycle and pedestrian use. The new Front Street viaduct and the new 2nd Street connector extension to Capitol Mall would then become the main north/south through street connecting Old Sacramento to areas to the south. Existing Front Street from O Street to the Embassy Suites hotel would remain open for parking and would end in a new cul-de-sac on the south side of the Embassy Suites hotel.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Cars Return to K Street

After nearly 42 years, vehicle traffic will be returning to K Street pedestrian mall between 8th & 12th Streets. Next week the $1.8 million project will be celebrated by the city with a car parade and other festivities. The Nov. 12th Cars on K Street event is free. Parking also is free that day and night at the city’s Capitol Garage at 10th and L streets.
Click here for more information on the event from Downtown Sacramento Partnership.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Proposed Planning and Design Commission Consolidation

Tonight the Planning Commission will look over a report to consolidate both the Planning and Design Commissions, turning some of the Design panel’s duties over to the city’s planning commission. The elimination of the commission would both reduces staff time and costs to the city.
The seven-member design commission evaluates the architectural merit of proposed construction projects. As reported by the Sacramento Business Journal, its chairman, said it “does provide essential value to the city” but the pressure to reduce costs in Sacramento, which had to trim services to alleviate a $39 million budget shortfall this year.
It’s also been suggested to reduce stipends for commissioners; last year more than $100,000 was set aside for stipends. The proposal would disband the design commission and add two members with design expertise to the 11-member planning commission.
 The SacramentoBusiness Journal also reports that for years the city recived advice from developers and construction industry experts on streamlining operations. Combining the two commissions was one of the suggestions.
The current design commission was formed in 2007 when city leaders decided to separate design review and preservation functions into distinct boards.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Capitol Mall Design Competition

The city is looking to completely redesign Capitol Mall and the public is waiting to hear who the winner is. In about 3 ½ weeks a winner will be announced and the Big Idea catalyst will then move forward.

My hope is that the city goes with an idea where less is more, it’s a design phrase that describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art. Many of the most memorable public places are simple in design and gently draws your attention to the natural beauty of the area … by doing more with less.

All entries that planted trees in the center of Capitol Mall or want to build a structure that will block the view of the State Capitol from the Tower Bridge were all losers in my book. The Capitol View protection ordinance established in 1992 will immediately disqualify any of these ideas. More than half of the submissions did not even bother to read the instructions talking about the view corridor. Also, the removal of all vehicles driving up and down Capitol Mall rubs me the wrong way. Being able to drive down ten blocks up to the State Capitol a very unique experience and should be incorporated into whatever design is chosen.

Many designs incorporate blocks that are not even owned by the city  like the former Towers site between 3rd & 4th. I don’t get this at all? I don’t remember reading anywhere that CalPERS is planning on donating the land and the city clearly can’t afford to buy it in the near future.  

Anyway, you can look at all the submissions at the website, where you can vote for which designs you like the best!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sutter Medical Center Expansion

Glass windows started being installed on the Anderson Lucchetti Women’s and Children’s Center a few weeks ago giving a glimpse of the look and style of the new hospital.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Maydestone Grand Opening

The Sacramento Business Journal’s reporting that this Wednesday Sacramento officials are expected to gather at the Maydestone apartment building for the grand opening of a formerly burned out structure rehabbed into 32 units of affordable housing.

It could be one of the last projects funded with redevelopment dollars for a while, given the dispute between local government and the state of California over the use of such funds. Most future projects are on hold until courts resolve the dispute over whether the state can take redevelopment money to help balance the budget.

Sacramento infill developer D&S Development kept many of the building’s original features, including roll-out beds and built-in furniture. The company put in a vintage-style elevator to maintain a consistent look dating back to the building’s construction in 1915. Also left untouched is the mosaic tile in front of the building that spells Maydestone with a backwards “N.” This is a $7.2 million renovation.