Sactown Urban Update

Sactown Urban Update

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cell phone use while driving - NOT! (except when looking for parking)

The city is actively overhauling the Downtown Parking system using a combination of smart tools and experimentation.  They're catching up to other "destination cities".

As the public drives to events at the new arena they (or better yet whoever is riding shotgun) can check their smart phones for available parking in garages and on city streets - and they'll be able to check prices and perhaps pay for garage spots in advance too.

Smart meters have been deployed that allow you to add money and avoid a ticket from your smart phone so you can watch the Kings win in overtime, have a nice relaxing dinner or enjoy an  concert encore.

And now SPOT zones are being tried out in Old Town and the Handel District. SPOT (for Special Pricing Over Time - AKA "dynamic parking") would allow residents and visitors to extend their parking time beyond the metered limit, as long as they're willing to pay a premium.
This new technology will give the city's parking authority the ability to monitor demand based upon what is happening at Downtown Commons.  Actually, the City spent about $8M before the ESC was approved to upgrade the city's parking technology - and that investment has apparently already nearly paid for itself with improved parking efficiency and revenue.

Midtown could be next  For more details about Sacramento' parking go to more about parking plans ...

Sources: SacBee, DSP, City of Sacramento

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Coming Soon! Neighborhood de ja vu - The old made new again!

"Sacramento's oldest residential neighborhood is now it's newest!" *

If you've been looking for the exciting "Urban Experience"" without the feeling you'll be living in a box, this may be for you!  Introducing "The Creamery"

Having been treated to a preview of these homes as they are being built I have to say that 4 things stood out:
1)The openness of the main living areas  2)The cleverness/thoughtfulness of the overall community blueprint   3)The two car garage! and...4) The rooftop deck option.

This brand new development, bordering the Downtown/Midtown revival offers 3 floor plans including 2-3 bedroom units of 1,745 and 1,818 square feet and a 4 bedroom model of 2309 square feet.  All have rooftop deck options and a 2 car garage (in the urban core!) Plus an innovative grey water landscape irrigation system and more.
Interested in learning more? Contact me now for more information or a special preview opportunity before these homes go on the market.  They will sell fast.

What's in a name?  This community is located at the site of the former Crystal Creamery Dairy foods plant.  Hence it's name "The Creamery"  :)

* Michael Paris, BlackPine Communities.  Images courtesy of BlackPine Commuities

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ally Art enlivens Downtown and Midtown

Local artist have been enlivening Sactowns ally-ways for many years...

 Now, Sacramento Business Journal's photographer Dennis McCoy has put together a great, colorful collection of ally murals.

Take a look at his  Ally Art slideshow.  Interesting stuff...

Source: SBJ, SacBee

Monday, November 2, 2015

Ice Rink FUN returns to Downtown Sac...

That was then...
DSP crews ready the area for the installation of the ice rink...

This is now...
(...or at least it will be on November 6th, 2015)
Now in it's 24th year - they must be doing something right! - the Downtown Sacramento Partnership is again operating the immensely popular Ice Rink at 7th and K.  The City of Sacramento got the tradition started in 1991 and the Downtown Sacramento Partnership took over shortly thereafter.  And it's not just for city folk in Midtown and Downtown, people come from far and wide to join in the fun.

For information about how the skating sessions are scheduled, questions about prices, equipment rentals,"The Rules" and much more check out Downtown Sac
Oh, and  did I mention, everyone skates FREE on Nov. 6th? 


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Streetcars - by the numbers, that you may not have thought about...

The Numbers: 1,1,2,60 and 15 (One, One, Two, Sixty; Fifteen)

One:That's the number of streetcars that travel at a time; not 2 or 3 cars strung together as you'll often see with Light Rail.

One: That's the number of dollars it will take to ride the Streetcar.

Two: Your ticket would be good for 2 hours

Sixty: That's the number of people that 1 street car can transport.

And Fifteen:  That's how often Streetcars will come by your stop, about once every 15 minutes.

MORE NUMBERS... 1.67 = 1

$1.67 a day: That 's about what it it will cost residential property owners if the assessment district is approved.  That works out to approximately 1% of the cost of the project.

So let me get this straight; up to 60 people per trip could be traveling throughout the Downtown/Midtown and West Sac communities. At a cost to residential homeowners of less than 1/2 the cost of a Starbucks coffee!

How many passenger cars will that take off the Downtown/Midtown streets? And what will that cost? Priceless!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Streetcars verses Busses, making sense of it...

Some ask: Why not just run a bus line to connect the Central Business District?

Streetcar advocates say:  Because bus lines do not generate economic activity.

Many studies have shown that streetcars generate economic benefits for the districts they serve.  The reason apparently is that developers and businesses know that a fixed transportation line is going to be in place for many ,many years and  so their investment in buildings or businesses have a chance to grow and succeed with a flow of people past their door.  A bus line can be changed fairly easily, leaving a business without a "delivered"customer base.

Here's more information about the "Why's and Wherefore's" of Streetcars verses the bus;  2012 Urban Review study

Friday, October 16, 2015

People Movers - behind the scenes Streetcar financing efforts go on...

"Once bitten, twice shy!" says City Councilman Steve Hansen, referring to ongoing efforts to find a way to finance the construction of a Streetcar system to serve the business districts of Sacramento's Downtown, (eventually) Midtown and the city of West Sacramento.

City leaders are working on a community facilities district financing plan (akin to a PBID (What's a PBID?) that would ask affected property owners to assess themselves to pay the city's portion of the cost to build the service.

Click here for more story details...

Image and additional content from SacBee 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

An MLS stadium at the Railyards: Can it be Built?

Can Sacramento support an MLS team and new stadium, financed with no public money?

That's the question being addressed in a feasibility study - the "Critical Mass Report".  The first of five steps being taken this year to move us toward an MLS stadium.  It's all part of the city's desire to build an attractive entertainment, retail and business venue in Downtown/Midtown.  Also known as CBD - Central Business District.

During Downtown Sacramento Partnership's recent exclusive unveiling of the "Indomitable Downtown Report" (AKA the Critical Mass Report) - a privately paid study conducted and presented by Captal PFG of Folsom - guests were given financial projections of the economic impact of a new soccer stadium located at the railyards: And it shows significant potential...

Future MLS stadium site (to right of water tower)
Projections include:
Direct construction spending $112,500,000
Indirect construction spending $86,658,863
Total Potential Gross Spending $199,158,863

Direct construction jobs  1,020
Indirect constructions jobs 735
Total Potential construction Jobs  1,755

In total, the report estimates that construction of a stadium will generate $200 million of gross economic activity during the construction phase.

Local agencies will also benefit from the generation of property taxes directly and indirectly from the new stadium.  More about that in a future Sactown Urban Update...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sacramento's Farm to Fork was another great success with 50,000 people attending the FREE festival on Capitol Mall.  There were well over 100 vendor booths plus cooking demonstrations, live music and more packed the Mall from 3rd to 7th streets.  Check out this  video of the event.

And what about next year?
The lines were long in some cases so as organizers start planning for next year, they're mindful that they don't want to be killed by their own success.  Downtown and Midtown will again be involve - read more...

Images and videos from Sac Bee and SBJ

Friday, September 25, 2015

FOOD! Multiple courses are coming to a plate near you!

This weekend kicks off our city's 3rd annual Farm to Fork event but there's a lot more courses coming after the dishes are done!

UCD and Rice Growers are sponsoring a speaker's series. Sac State's has planned a farm to fork academy for high students...

Then there's the Food Bloger's convention coming to town, and food will be the talk of the town, here and hopefully around the globe...

Next up... A Food Conference - The Food Tank - looking at the entire food system...

 Click here for more food courses...

Content and images from the SBJ

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Downtown Plaza? So yesterday! Meet Downtown Commons

The Sacramento Kings and JMA Ventures LLC Are re-branding the former staid and uninspired Downtown Plaza as they build a new entertainment and retail center.  The brand projects a new vitality and energy and gives us a glimpse of great new experiences soon to be found in Downtown.

[ And while the current focus of "the Commons" is a 6 block Downtown district, local leaders expect the brand to eventually come to include Midtown too.]

Designed as a destination for locals and travelers alike, it will be where friends and families will hang out and visitors from around the world experience Sacramento at its best.  They aim to make Sacramento the next Great American City and the common ground will be Downtown Commons or "DoCo".


Check out their press release...Downtown Commons and the DOCO website!.  You will not be disappointed!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Erector set...Big Time!

The downtown arena, aka the Entertainment and Sports Complex... aka Kings Arena that's anchoring and activating the re-birth of our civic center is taking shape!

Exterior framework is up - you're starting to get that "crushed aluminum can" feel ...

 ...and they're constructing the framework for the roof...

From the bowels and the bowl: A look from down at the level where the Kings and the concerts will play shows how the supporting roof trusses, the framework that will support the roof shell, are being put in place...

When I visited the site, the first major cross member was 2/3 built and was being tied to the south east side arena wall at L street.

Where's my seat?
...the future?
Future Grand Entrance!

..Future visitors locker room, kitchen operations etc
And finally, the current "no-where bridge" to the past: the future connector to a renovated Downtown Plaza which will soon be built (and Midtown will be welcome too!)


Friday, July 17, 2015

Transformers - the developers at 700 K Street...

Recently, I was part of a fascinating walking tour of the south side of the 700 block of K Street being redeveloped by CFY Development.  Despite the 102 degrees that day what we saw was very cool!

Ali Youssefi, VP of CFY Development pointed to the historic facades of his company's latest project, those 1930's to 1970's something store fronts, many now held up by long metal crutches, and told us "we are going to keep as much of the original faces of these buildings as possible".  And with that we took an inside out tour of the shells as they are being reborn to be tomorrow's happening places.
A former theater's original Frank Carson 1970's mosaic will be retained

If you've ever been to or seen photos/images of the great cities of Europe, with their wide sidewalks, cafes studded with outdoor seating and people enjoying the day, then you'll start to see where this part of The Kay is headed.  With a 40 foot expanse between the building fronts and the center of the mall, the block will someday soon be an exciting place to linger.

Inside, work is going on to prepare the street, basement and mezzanine levels for future chic and interesting restaurants and bars that will feature farm to fork local foods prepared by expert chefs.

Getting above it all in Downtown/Mitown.  Behind the businesses will be 137 mixed income apartments of varying sizes and rent levels from studios to penthouses.  These high rise apartment homes have been set back 90 feet from the storefronts so as to avoid the tunnel effect they would create if they were built above the businesses.  Very Thoughtful!

  Fifteen units will have mall views

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Update! The Empress rises to new depths!

From "new depths" to new heights!  Empress Tavern opens today!  Read more...

The Empress and the Crest Theater

The historic CREST Theater was originally opened in 1912 as the Empress Theater and was used as a vaudeville venue for some time before it became known as the Hippodrome.  But the name change seems to have brought bad luck with it.  It's said that during one of the vaudeville acts a trapezist  fell to his death under suspicious circumstances; and in September 1946 the Hippodrome's marquee suddenly fell to the pavement below, killing one bystander and seriously injuring another.  Shortly after the tragedy, in 1949, the building was completely remodeled to it's present form as the Crest Theater.

But there's more for Downtown/Midtown to enjoy...

In 1986, Sid Garcia-Heberger and three partners - her husband Bill Heberger, Andy Field and Gary Schroeder leased the property and got involved in the running and restoring of The Crest to it's present-day glory. Then in 2011, Robert Emerick, a fifth generation Sacramentan purchased the property because he "wanted to preserve a signature regional asset".  When the tenant's lease came up for renewal last year, landlord and tenants were unable to agree on terms and Bob Emerick took over the operation of the theater, expanding the "going to the movies" concept to include serving alcohol and eventually food.

The Empress re-enters...
Bob Emerick has also put together a group to renovate and re-purpose the Crest's lower level (AKA the basement) with a side entrance.  They're putting in a restaurant/bar called the EMPRESS TAVERN serving high quality "Pub Food" with seating to accommodate couples, individuals and groups; and perhaps cooking classes too!. But the big news is the old world atmosphere they are aiming to create: brick lined, arched ceilings reminiscent of some of the taverns of London's Soho district or parts of France.
 Very Euro, very cool!

Sources: Wikipedia, Bob Emerick, Cathie Anderson at SacBee

Read more here:

Sunday, June 14, 2015

HOT stuff! Getting to 10,000 housing units...

Friday was HOT, both the weather and the talk about the need for overcoming inertia to get  ideas into reality for more housing in the city's core. (The A/C system at the invitation only event went on the blink so the venue really was HOT!)

The Mayor and several other civic and business leaders led a cheer leading session AKA the "Mayor's Housing Initiative Kick Off", the formal start to his goal of adding 10,000 housing units to Downtown and Midtown in the next 10 years.  Business leaders gave their personal insights of the benefits of creating a creative place for people to live, work and play.  Fascinating stuff!

[photo from SBJ]
Also on Friday, LaShelle Dozier, executive director of SHRA, (Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency - a joint city-county agency) said she and others are finalizing policy guidelines to simplify the approval path for developers who want to build those homes.

And the city is working on bringing in resources to help with infrastructure and financing.  Possibilities include using Cap-and-Trade dollars applied to transit-oriented developments and using the new federal "Promise Zone" incentives to expedite funding applications.

For more see getting to 10,000 housing units

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Go Downtown Sac!

Downtown Sacramento Partnership launches its new consumer website and improves it's business oriented page!

After almost a year and a significant financial investment in determining what is needed for the public and for it's business constituents, DSP has rolled out it's new sites; and it's Mobile app is great too.

Two competing firms collaborated to develop very user friendly experiences that are really INFORMATIVE!

Downtown Sacramento Partnership
For businesses, check out 

Learn (about Downtown)
Start (a Business)
Grow (your business)

Downtown SacConsumers, visitors can GoDowntownSac

Explore downtownE
check out Events
get downtown and Midtown News you can use

The new DOWNTOWNSAC image represents our Downtown/Midtown re-birth, our rivers and the Downtown and Midtown/Central Business Grid.  I totally get that!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Streetcar vote coming up soon...

About 3700 voters in the Central Downtown district will soon be voting on Measure B, the Streetcar initiative.

Property owners in that district (and the ones who will pay the special tax) have already given a solid "YES!" in a recent advisory vote, but registered voters, whether property owners or not, get to vote on it.  And there are those who are opposed to the idea.

Perhaps these voters don't realize that the public's share of the cost of the streetcar, that could greatly improve getting around in Downtown and Midtown and get cars off the streets,  will cost just 1% of the total cost of building the first leg of this new connector.  That meants property owners will pay between $3 and $5 a month more in their taxes to greatly enhance connectivity between all the exciting things going on between Raley Field, Old Town, the Downtown Entertainment & Sports Complex, a re-born Downtown (with more jobs)  and the Theater district.  What a boon for our city!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Streetcars; the lowdown on the low down

Did you know that Streetcars are different than Light Rail trains and even buses in many, very positive respects?  For instance:

Streetcar chassis and their doors are designed to be low to the ground, almost at curb level, which has a number of beneficial results:
 - the cars are easier to step or roll in and out of
 - A low entry point makes for easier access for those with disabilities

 - There are typically 3 access doors on a streetcar so people can get on and off quickly rather than standing in line as for a typical RT bus
 - The low profile of the streetcar allows pedestrians to see through the car to the other side from the street, thus making the streetcar less imposing than a Light Rail vehicle.

Just some good reasons to consider Streetcars in Sacramento's Downtown and Midtown future!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pillar to Post? Try, Rivers to Freeways

The Mayor's Strong Housing Task Force envisions a  fairly broad geographic area as well as a mix of market rate, Affordable and rehabilitated housing.

The area of concentration for the proposed "10,000 new homes" covers the city from "River to River, Freeway to Freeway" according to Cassandra Jennings of the Mayor's Office.  Specifically, it's bounded by the American River to the north, the Sacramento River to the west, Highway 50 to the south and Business 80/Route 160 to the east.  AKA Rivers to Freeways.  That covers Downtown, Midtown and more...

Their preliminary thinking is to encourage the building of about 6,000 "Owner Occupied" market rate housing units, 1,500 additional "Affordable Housing" units and about 1,500 rehab. or " Adaptive re-use" (i.e. re-purposed) housing units.  The Task Force is currently prioritizing and winnowing an initial list of identified issues needing to be addressed into recommendations that will be presented to stakeholders in May and the City Council in July.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Promises, Promises...'s all coming together

...This just in...

Sacramento has just been granted a "Promise Zone" designation by federal authorities.

According to  the city, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency will now get "priority points" when applying for federal grants under this designation which could enhance their chances of getting redevelopment funds for projects in the zone.  The Zone includes a number of challenged neighborhoods including Downtown and part of Midtown.

Read more...

Speaking of challenges:

The Golden Hotel

"Sandwiched" between a Coffee Shop and Restaurant

Maybe they can get some money to turn the Golden Hotel into residential units!  Just saying...

Monday, April 27, 2015

Being First, and getting results that last...

What's a PBID?

It's a Property Based Improvement District; and right here in River City the first one in California was conceived back in 1994 and became reality in 1995 as the Downtown Sacramento Partnership (DSP).  They've accomplished a LOT, including cleaning up Downtown blight, making our business core more consumer friendly, and bringing together business leaders to help revitalize our city center.

Apparently, the people who support DSP via special assessments believe they are getting a good return on their investment - they've again renewed the PBID for another 10 years.

For an interesting history of the Downtown PBID, including comments about Midtown and other special assessment successes, check out Zone Improvement by Comstock's Magazine.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

ESC's progress...Ramping up! Torn Asunder!

Outside the former Downtown Plaza, construction of the ESC continues apace, with the underpinnings of the pedestrian walkway up to the plaza level going in on April 11th (as seen from the northwest corner of L Street and 5th streets)

And inside, "the bridge" is carefully torn asunder!

Here's a video update of construction progress on the Entertainment and Sports Complex as of April 8th.

Meanwhile, down at the Kimpton...  Whats' a Kimpton?  A new Midtown eatery?

Why no, that's the brand name, but not the likely name of the hotel that's going to be built next to the ESC...

[Video courtesy of SBJ)]

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The "10,000 homes... Initiative". Looking at the right stuff?

The Mayor's "10,000 homes in 10 years" proposal is now starting to be considered by a stakeholder group of "movers and shapers".  Now called the "Strong Housing Initiative", the still being formed group is trying to get it's arms around the issue and the steps needed to put a plan together.

Local, national and even international commentators have said that for our urban core rebirth to be successful in the long run, people need to live here.  And I would add that they need to be able to afford to live here!

As a Realtor who serves Downtown/Midtown I believe the urban core needs to have a diversified residential population, from young professionals to young families to empty nesters and every group in between. What appears to be missing in current development proposals are concrete plans (pun intended) to develop "moderately priced" owner occupied housing in mid-range price points that will attract those that want to experience Downtown living. 

Currently, there's a lot of interest in downtown housing but little if  any qualitative information about it.  I hope the Mayor's Task Force draws upon the earlier, innovative work of a Downtown Sacramento Partnership's review that outlined the "core" problem (again, pun intended) and a course of action to identify the impediments and solutions to DT housing.  Together these groups need to get a study going that gathers facts and market info about residential housing, especially "owner occupied" moderately priced homes.  Then maybe we'll see realistic and attainable proposals.  Let's hope they ask the right questions: We need to know what's available, what's needed, at what price,and who's interested. Then, how do we get there.

Among Suburbanites, there is a strong perception that Downtown/Midtown housing is mostly relatively transient rental units.  To change that perception, the city must help create owner occupied housing for folks who will buy and stay DT and form community bonds.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Rebirth with a (re)purpose!

King's owner, Vivek Ranadive has said he is committed to building the "greenest arena in the greenest state in the country"

And he's getting it done!  All but 2% of the Downtown Plaza's demolished buildings have been recycled or re-purposed. In about 8 months the project has generated the equivalent of 3 years worth of recycled material typically recycled by the citizens of Sacramento. Click here for more...

Perhaps this is why the early ESC renderings looked to some like a "crushed aluminum can"!  Their vision got mixed up with the image of a recycled mall!

Or perhaps our shortage of residential housing in Downtown and Midtown can use some of the Downtown Plaza's rubble to re-purpose some buildings into places to live?

(Photo courtesy of SacBizJournal/InsidePublications))

Sunday, March 22, 2015

ESC rising!

March brings vertical momentum to the Downtown Arena!  Here are two images and videos tracking the progress of construction of the Entertainment and Sports Complex (ESC)...

The King's Practice and Office Facility is being built right next to the arena and it started with a PURPLE steel beam being hoisted in place - the first of about 9,000 tons of steel being used to build the downtown area.  And did you know this beam will also become the centerpiece of King's owner Vivek Ranadive's office?

The new arena's  foundation is also making steady progress too; here's a look at the work as of March 9th, 2015

(Photos courtesy of Fox40 News and Sacramento Bee, video courtesy of Vimeo)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Question: What's the current Downtown/Midtown residential market look like?

Answer: It's nice if you can get it.  But unfortunately,  there's just not a lot of homes in these neighborhoods.  Yet.

Here's a February 2015 Trendgraphix Market Summary for the Downtown and Midtown zip codes (95811,95814 and 5816) showing the number of homes For Sale, Sold and Pended (in contract):

Just 44 homes available For Sale in February!

If you'd like to check on current Price per Square Foot for the DT/MT area click here , or to see the current DT/MT  Average Price For Sale and Sold + the Median price click here

Prospective sellers should take note of the lack of competition IF they are thinking about selling!  :)