Friday, April 29, 2011

DMV Headquarters Upgrade

We can now see the glazed panels of opaque and transparent glass being placed over the current brick exterior. The $127 million project has now been upgraded for seismic stability and energy efficiency that will extend its life another 50 years. This 1960’s structures in it's last stage of a 13-year renovation.

First layer of dual-skin facade

New Central Plant

Old Exterior

Rendering of finshed building

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Downtown Plaza for Sale… again

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Westfield Group of Australia has begun seeking buyers for the Sacramento mall and 16 other underperforming centers in seven states.

Westfield's goal: Take advantage of an uptick in the economy to sell the properties, then use the proceeds to reinvest in more successful centers, such as its Galleria mall in Roseville.

Westfield officials had no comment. Neither did Evercore Partners, a New York-based advisory firm that's been hired to market the mall portfolio.

The news comes almost two years after city officials asked Westfield to find a buyer if it wasn't going to make long-discussed improvements. Westfield officials said then they'd sell "under certain circumstances."

It would be big surprised to me if the 39-year-old mall finds a buyer, but there could be some harsh finical forces at play that make it so Westfield has to shed the dead weight.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

K Street Mall Traffic

Tonight the Sacramento City Council will act to approve the implementation of a $2.7 million project  reintroduceing cars back onto K street between the 8th & 12th Streets.

The project includes:
• Two-way traffic
• Passenger Drop-offs (no parking)
• New signalized crossing at 11th and K streets
• Addition of edge treatments (possibly bollards, planters or street furniture) to fill large gaps
• ADA improvements at intersections

In my opinion, this is a terrible idea. The city has now thrown away another opportunity to provide pleasant, pedestrian, patio, public space for new businesses. The focus on K Street should be creating more affordable places to live with reasonable prices and removal of trouble makers and bums that have made this stretch of street worse than it really is. A densely populated area will change the atmosphere and draw more new business into the area. I’ve said all this before, so it really does not matter at this point.

Ordinance Amendment: Pedestrian Malls

Friday, April 15, 2011

Powerhouse Awarded $7 Million

The Powerhouse Science Center has been awarded a $7 million grant to pay for the first of three buildings in its planned $50 million science museum on the banks of the Sacramento River. The money comes from Prop. 84, a 2006 bond measure that provided $5 billion for water-quality projects, including public access to natural resources. The center is expected to open in 2013.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Railyards Preferred Site for New Courthouse

The city block bounded by H Street, 5th Street, G Street and 6th Street is now the preferred site for the new Sacramento Criminal Courthouse, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) announced today. The site, Lot 41-Railyards, was endorsed today as the preferred site by the project advisory group, which includes members of the Superior Court of Sacramento County, city and county officials, and the AOC. The block, part of which is currently a city parking lot, is at the southernmost end of the Sacramento Railyards project, near existing court facilities and key justice partners, with ready access to transportation, including Amtrak, light rail, and bus service.

The Railyards site has received strong support from community leaders, including a June 2010 resolution by the Sacramento City Council and the County of Sacramento in favor of the site for the new courthouse, because it would jump-start vertical development and provide an opportunity for a landmark building in the area. The city is working with the Railyards owner, Inland American, to relocate railroad tracks that currently run through the site.

“The Railyards is the most appropriate site for the new state criminal courthouse due to its close proximity to the county jail, sheriff’s department, District Attorney’s Office, and the Public Defender’s Office, as well as transit services, bail bond, and law offices,” said Supervisor Susan Peters.

The AOC recently published its draft environmental impact report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which includes two sites: the Railyards site and 301 Capitol Mall. The AOC will accept public comments on the draft EIR through May 24, 2011; a public meeting on the draft EIR is planned for May 4, 2011. The AOC must conclude its environmental review, complete due diligence and acquisition negotiations, and secure approval by the State Public Works Board before site acquisition can be completed and architectural design can proceed. The local architecture firm of Nacht & Lewis and the global firm of HOK already have been selected to design the proposed new courthouse.

The new courthouse, 405,000 square feet and up to 16 stories tall, would provide 44 courtrooms (35 to be relocated from the Gordon D. Schaber Courthouse and 9 for new judicial positions), would consolidate most of the court’s criminal operations, and would centralize court operations from other downtown leased facilities. The proposed project includes a renovation of the Schaber Courthouse, and the AOC is also making plans for public parking options as a part of the project.

The proposed project is funded by Senate Bill 1407, enacted by the state Legislature in 2008 to authorize up to $5 billion for 41 new and renovated court facilities using court user fees, without impact on the state’s General Fund. This project was ranked as an “immediate need” in the judicial branch’s capital-outlay plan, making it among the branch’s highest-priority infrastructure projects. The project is expected to generate economic benefit in the form of thousands of jobs, both those directly related to the construction effort and others indirectly affected by it. Construction is scheduled to start in early 2013 and be completed in 2015.

More about the project is on the California Courts website:

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Downtown On-Street Bikeway Project

Phase One
Despite the substantial number of bicyclists in the Downtown area, there is a lack of planned bikeways for this area of the City.

City staff is initiating this project to determine appropriate locations for additional bicycle access in the downtown area and to implement those improvements. Phase 1 will be comprised of bikeways that can be added to the existing street system without removal of any vehicle or parking lanes. Phase 2 will include conversion of one-way streets from three to two one-way lanes with both left and right side bike lanes. This phase also requires an environmental assessment of the reduction in travel lanes. The project purpose is to make downtown streets more complete by restriping the streets to add new on-street bikeways.

Phase Two

The Central City Two Way Conversion Project has an unobligated balance of $631,419. Approval of the transfer of local transportation funds (Fund 2001) in the amount of $629,000 from the Central City Two Way Conversion Project (T15008000) will be sufficient to plan, design and implement bicycle enhancements for Phases 1 and 2 in the downtown area.

City staff has recommend that the City Council approve the project and will be discussed this Tuesday the 12th.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

City Budget Woes

It’s crunch time again and the City of Sacramento is now seeking public input on the upcoming 2011-2012 budget with an online survey. The City is also hosting a community Budget Open House at City Hall on Saturday, April 9. Attendees are invited to stop by anytime between 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to learn about the City’s budget and provide input on budget priorities and solutions. Results from the survey will be presented to the City Council in early May as part of the proposed budget process.

The open house will take place in the New City Hall lobby at 915 I Street in downtown Sacramento.

Sacramento is suffering from the prolonged economic recession. As a result, the City is anticipating a budget deficit of $35 to $40 million. This projected shortfall represents the need to reduce the $237 million net General Fund operating costs by nearly 20 percent. Although the City has initiated several budget-saving strategies over the last several years, next fiscal year’s budget will represent the fifth consecutive year of budget reductions because expenditures are growing at a faster rate than available revenues to pay for those services.

An online “Budget Input Survey” has been posted to the City’s web page,, and will be open through April 23. For more information about the city budget, download the Budget 101 fact sheet.