K Street’s 700 block to get entertainment, housing

A redevelopment project being considered by the city could help cement K Street Mall's future as an entertainment district.

The proposal that went before the city's Preservation Commission Wednesday night would build a live music club with a roof terrace in the historic Banking Hall building at 700 K St., anchoring a key block across from Westfield Downtown Plaza and St. Rose of Lima Park.

The plan by D & S Development, Inc., and CFY Development Inc. – led by David Miry and his son, Bay Miry, and Cyrus Youssefi and his son, Ali Youssefi – also proposes four restaurants with bars for the south side of the block, along with 153 new apartments and a nearly 29,000-square-foot, two-level parking garage. The project would add new housing stock and full-time residents to the troubled mall, which is nearly deserted nights and weekends.

"Our intention with this development is to celebrate the buildings that have for years held an exciting place in the history of downtown Sacramento," Ali Youssefi told the commission.

Youssefi's and Bay Miry's fathers taught them to respect old structures and their character. The two young developers and the project's architect, Bob Kuchman, have spent nearly every day of the last six months discovering the charms of the block's historic buildings, Miry said.

"We have so many historic buildings around Sacramento that really need love," he said.

Most of the housing would be contained in a five-story apartment building with a 91-space parking garage on the bottom. The building would occupy space created by demolishing the back half of some existing 160-foot-deep retail spaces.

That would mean the 19th-Century alley façades would be eliminated, although developers discussed reusing the bricks to possibly reconstruct some of the façade on the ground-level or in a rooftop garden courtyard. Other apartments would be built over ground-floor restaurant and retail space.

The plan calls for 63,780 square feet of retail including the restaurants and bars – nearly double what was originally proposed. Developers would create extra space by incorporating basements for retail use. There would be sidewalk kiosks, operated by vendors, on the block and housing would include rooftop gardens.

City staff said they support the way the project would restore historic brick and wood storefronts and incorporate most of the existing buildings facing K Street. They also like the way the area would be invigorated by the music club in an adaptive reuse of the corner landmark building that once held a Men's Wearhouse.

"They've shown sensitivity to the historic nature and pedestrian scale of the area," said Beth Tincher, a senior project manager with the city's Economic Development Department. "They have created a great vision for the 700 block."

The club would be big enough to hold 500 people. Its roof terrace would be 3,225 square feet. Developers plan to use some space from the neighboring Joe Sun building at 704 K St. for the club.

The developers would preserve the landmark Morelia building at 716 K St. for use as a bakery or coffee shop.

The historic Galleria building at 712 K St. could contain a salon and the former Tower Records at 726 K St. – also a potential historic landmark – would get a restored mural and be used for retail. The old Texas Mexican restaurant at 1114 Eighth St. will be demolished for the project, Bay Miry said.

On Wednesday night, city staff asked Preservation Commission members to review the proposal and discuss concerns that would need to be considered during project review in the next few months.

Several commissioners expressed concern over demolition of alley façades, the loss of hollow sidewalks and construction of a flat, industrial-looking alley wall on the apartment building.

Commissioner Fred Turner encouraged developers to do a survey of the historic resources and see what's regulated, including interiors, and to use information from a survey the city funded last year.

Developers will work with city staff to decide how much of the alley façade will be taken apart, how much will be reconstructed and where, Kuchman said.

The city requested proposals to develop the blighted 700 and 800 blocks of K Street in early 2010. The Sacramento City Council chose two teams – one led by D & S Development, Inc., and CFY Development, Inc., and the other by Sacramento developer David Taylor – to revitalize the blocks.

D&S Development, Inc., and CFY Development Inc. originally turned in a proposal to build a four-story building with 136 units of "affordable" alley-front housing over podium parking. They also wanted to create 37,480 square feet of retail space by reducing the size of 160-foot-deep retail spaces and devoting the 66-feet-deep leftover space to housing.

The current project application was submitted to the city Dec. 10. Developers are working through the entitlement process and creating a financing plan. The city and its Redevelopment Agency must prepare an environmental review of the plan and evaluate the project's feasibility. Funds must still be secured for the project, Tincher said.

The D&S team was requesting $16 million in RDA funds and would invest $1.5 million in cash equity and $18 million in conventional debt to develop the 700 block, Bay Miry said shortly before the team was chosen last July. At that time, he estimated their project could start six months after being chosen, once entitlements and permits were obtained.

City staff expect to bring the project before the commission and the City Council for final action in May and June.

Developers hope to start construction near the end of the year, Cyrus Youssefi said.


Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt. 

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January 6, 2011 | 8:01 AM

This is exactly the kind of context sensitive redevelopment a resurgent Sacramento deserves and Bay and Ali are exactly the right guys to do it. Hooray for them and a city staff that gets it.

January 6, 2011 | 1:41 PM

My only concern is for the big picture in Sacramento. In addition to this project, Township 9 is underway, the Bridge District is under way, the Docks project is in the works, the entire Railyard project is moving forward slowly and several other downtown housing and retail projects still remain mostly unsold (e.g. L Street Lofts, retail space in parking garage on 28th and N, etc.). Are there plans for a more holistic and concerted effort by the city/county of Sacramento (and West Sacramento for that matter) to attract the many thousands of people from outside the area needed to reside in these new projects?

January 6, 2011 | 9:18 PM

It’s a pretty safe bet that the population of Sacramento will increase over the course of the the next 20 years. Whether they move to the city center or new-growth suburbs depends largely on planning decisions we are making now. This project accelerates the same course we started a few years ago, when the first new residential units in the the downtown J/K/L core were opened (800 J and the Cathedral lofts.) This half of the project will add another 150 units and about 60,000 square feet of commercial space, in a relatively short timeframe. The David Taylor/CIM/Domus project across the street will probably be under construction a year or two later. These units will be up and running and ready to receive tenants in a couple of years, while T9, the Railyards and the Bridge District will (one hopes) be finishing up their infrastructure components but won’t yet have places for people to move. The big picture includes the ability to plan for the short, middle and long term, rather than focusing on the far-off big picture so much that we miss opportunities right under our noses.

January 6, 2011 | 5:42 PM

100 + housing units and the reporter calls that a success?? What about the thousands of housing units that would have been created if the city council was not so fixated on doing the least exciting project possible.

This whole project would look a lot better in the suburbs…Elk Grove or Rancho Cordova. It does not belong at ground zero of a major city…oops I forgot we don’t want to be anything but a city time passed by…

January 7, 2011 | 9:54 AM

Don’t be negative on the project just because of the modest number of housing units.

There is a bit of “chicken or the egg” syndrome here on what should go in first… do the people eating working at the restaurants needs housing first, or do residents need somewhere to eat and work first? And planned developments like this will never have the same look as a neighborhood that grew organically. Accept it and move on. My take is that this will look like the infill around Giants stadium (AT&T Park) in SF or around Coors Field in Denver, as is typical for developments of this scale. It will be better than suburban strip mall.

Consider that if you stand back and look at some of our most popular midtown streets for both entertainment and residents (J,K,Capitol) the architecture is underwhelming more often than not. What makes these areas popular is shady trees, sidewalk seating, foot traffic etc). And as these blocks are revitalized, I am sure you will see many times the 153 apts pop as this section of K Street becomes popular for something other than winter ice skating.

Bill Burg has it right in that this and the other developments are critical to making Sacramento a functioning self contained city and something beyond a place for office dwellers to hang their coat for 8 hours M-F. It’s not perfect, but I am pretty positive on the 700 development.

January 8, 2011 | 8:04 AM

The 700 block of K Street did grow organically–one of this project’s strengths is its integration of a row of separate buildings constructed over a period of decades, plus an element of modern building at the back. The preservation of the existing buildings maintains that architectural eclecticism, with an injection of the new–a walk through a city is also a walk through time, with different appearances and uses in a short walking distance.

In terms of units, it’s 150 units on a half city block, and the other half city block (the Taylor/Domus/CIM project) will bring the units up to about 300–and we’ll see what happens on the other half of both of those blocks. Not sure where the “thousands” comment came from. The largest of the four projects proposed, the Authenti-City/Boqueria plan, would have provided 550 permanent housing units–assuming that the city was willing to throw much larger subsidies at the project, and the state was in great financial shape and could throw more money at it, over the course of the next 20 years, and private lenders were jumping at the chance to lend. Instead, we’ll have functioning projects where people live, and the catalyst for more projects that could produce even more housing (and commercial, and office) over the same period of time, with a much smaller price tag and risk element–and a nice half-block to boot.

Perhaps we just don’t share the same view of architecture, but Midtown’s architecture can be pretty amazing if we’re talking about small-scale residential and commercial architecture. Eclectic styles spanning decades (from Italianate to Modernist) within a city block, multiple fine-grained uses, a mixture of public and private space–stuff straight out of Jane Jacobs. In terms of chicken-or-egg, there are already a lot of jobs in the central city (we have 11% of the region’s jobs, and maybe 2% of the population) the housing is critical–but so is creating active, utilized storefronts that will serve visitors as well as residents.

January 10, 2011 | 11:32 AM

No need to argue Bill, I agree with you on this one! Great point that K St really is organic growth of sorts, when you look at the street as a whole. I even gave yuo green thumbs ups!

My point on midtown architecture is that in many cases it too would look underwhelming in an artist rendering, although very clearly many residents and visitors alike find it quite alluring in person (myself included). Not disparaging it, but simply highlighting that activity, traffic, residency and shade can carry a lot more weight than pure architectural expression.

January 11, 2011 | 9:16 AM

Thanks for clarifying–didn’t mean to sound confrontational, I’m just a huge fan of Midtown’s in-person architecture, and the above was more directed at Rhys02′s original comment than yours. The green thumbs up is returned in your case!

And yes, you are quite correct that there is a big difference between a 3-D rendering (where the user can plug in as many happy images of diners and pedestrians as one wants) and how a building looks in real life. And if someone looking at these sketches had never been to K Street and didn’t realize that the eclectic storefronts on K are actually real buildings that are there right now (as opposed to a set of faux storefronts to be newly constructed on the site) they might have a very incorrect impression as to how the buildings will look in real life.

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