Maydestone renovation halfway done

Apartments in the Maydestone building downtown are starting to look more like homes as work progresses in the historic building’s restoration.

“It’s a very urban project, it’s a very prime location,” said Bay Miry of D&S Development. “There’s been a lot of people already inquiring about it.”

Renovation work on the century-old building at 15th and J streets started in September.

“Our whole goal was to do it in 10 months, and we’re still on that path,” Miry said. “We expect to have tenants in here by early summer.”

A previous article showed the progress made up to Nov. 17, and workers have made significant strides since then.

Miry added that the project has received funding from the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency.

“If it weren’t for SHRA, this wouldn’t have come together,” he said. “Without redevelopment (funds), there’s no way this could have happened.”

Most noticeable from the street is the exterior progress, in which bare wood has since been covered with wood siding and painted.

The paint scheme will reflect the building’s original colors, and much of the molding and other parts are original, including the fire escape facing 15th Street. The stucco covering on two of the sides is original, and has been restored in places. A steel staircase on the rear of the four-story building has been finished and meets modern fire code, Miry said.

The interior is being restored to include 32 units ranging in size from 450 – 750 square feet. They will qualify as affordable housing, and Miry said he is anticipating having tenants ranging from young professionals to empty-nesters looking for a downtown spot.

Rents will range from approximately $700 – $1,300 per month, Miry said, which will qualify as affordable housing for those earning approximately $30,000 – $60,000 per year.

Construction is being done in four stages of eight units each, and the first eight have had their walls covered, with detail work well under way.

Miry said workers are taking care to keep the historic character of the building intact, with the crown molding being restored or redone, and original fixtures – dressers, kitchen countertops and pull-out beds – are being restored and incorporated into the new spaces.

In that vein, original radiators will also remain in the units, but each one is equipped with modern central heating and air conditioning, Miry said. Also new to the units is a fire sprinkler system to meet fire code.

The interior walls will be smooth, with paneling in some areas. Curved joints between walls and ceilings in some areas preserve the older architectural feel of the building.

Insulation has been added, and the original windows have been restored. Miry said they are not multi-pane windows, but single-pane. They retain the rope-and-pulley systems, and the original counterweights are being used.

When constructed, the building’s walls were lath and plaster, and where there has been demolition work, sheetrock has been installed.

The basement will feature a fitness room, about 20 storage spaces tenants can rent and a lounge area with a kitchenette. All units in the building have their own kitchens, and Miry said the kitchenette in the lounge is included for convenience.

Washers and dryers will not be installed in each unit, but will be available in the basement.

Also in the basement is the original elevator equipment, which will not be functional, but will remain, with signs providing historical information, Miry said.


Eco-friendly materials are being used where applicable, and solar panels will be placed on the roof. LED lights will also be used in the building.

“It’s a bigger up-front cost, but it saves energy and money in the long run,” Miry said.

“We’re not taking any shortcuts,” he added. “(It’s a) really quality apartment project. Given how high-profile this is…. As far as our reputation, we want to make sure we do something that makes a statement.”

Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. 

Conversation Express your views, debate, and be heard with those in your area closest to the issue. RSS Feed

January 28, 2011 | 7:38 PM

Looks like a beautiful job but “not multi-pane windows, but single-pane” seems to contradict “We’re not taking any shortcuts,” he added. . .” . For any of the units that face 15th or J Street (which I think is most) or unless the kitchens are all facing those streets, with the sleeping and living areas behind the kitchens, the horrendous traffic and night pedestrian noise can prove to be short sighted for residents with normal hearing ability.

January 28, 2011 | 9:54 PM

Dale, the windows are the original ones, being restored to their original condition, not replaced with dual-pane windows. Trashing the original wood windows might have been easier than restoring them, but a restored wood window (in conjunction with a good curtain) can be just as effective for insulation and noise attenuation as a dual-pane, and does not sacrifice the historic character. And because it doesn’t add more junk to landfill or require the production of a vinyl window, it’s greener in the long run.

February 1, 2011 | 10:42 PM

I recently had my single pane windows restored and weather stripped. The weather stripping was key. It is noticeably quieter. Maybe not as quiet as a good double pane. You can’t beat the appearance of those old windows.

January 29, 2011 | 9:04 AM

That may be well in theory but in actuality, no single pane even with curtains provides a good sound barrier–even double pane only reduces the noise somewhat. I speak from my and from residents in such restored buildings experience. I’m all for preservation and retaining original character but sometimes practicality must win over.

January 29, 2011 | 9:48 AM

Plenty of people don’t mind city sounds outside their window–it may not be your cup of tea, but for others it is not an obstacle–and retention of the original windows is a definite plus. That’s the choice I made on my current house, and I’m pretty happy with it.

January 29, 2011 | 10:22 AM

Having lived in buildings with single and double pane windows – a well sealed single pane wood window has a sound transfer rating only slightly less than a wood dual pane. Add on sound dampening curtains like those made for music studios or theatres and the difference is negligible. Wood dual panes are very expensive and why trash the original windows for so little benefit. Because the original windows are in place, an interior acoustic insert can be added later if the noise is really bad. Several reputable companies make interior acoustic inserts designed specifically for historic buildings in urban areas that open like regular windows in a low profile frame. They’re barely noticeable. The buildings integrity is left in tact and if desired later, minor interior modifications can be made. It’s really the best of both worlds of old and new.

January 29, 2011 | 2:25 PM


Avatar of sb1
February 1, 2011 | 5:04 PM

How many people that are looking for “affordable” housing have the money, or the expertise, to go out and pay for special sound curtains out of a very modest income? Most people wouldn’t have a clue of what you’re talking about. Curtains are not inexpensive and special acoustic curtains would take a big bite out of a modest/low income. We’re not talking about the J Street, L Street Lofts here. The people this building is geared to are people of “modest” means and not the urban yuppie with a good amount of disposable income.

January 29, 2011 | 10:39 AM

My guess is this will not be handicapped accessible?

January 30, 2011 | 4:36 PM

The building is ADA-compliant with the larger corner rooms being available to handicapped tenants.

Article Author
January 29, 2011 | 11:59 AM

This is an exciting project. Thanks for the inside peek!

January 29, 2011 | 2:29 PM

They’ve kept the original elevator equipment in the basement! And the cast iron radiators in some units. What a fine example of wonderful decisions with vision and history included! Thanks, Brandon, for the nifty tidbits us historic bldg nerds luv!

January 29, 2011 | 4:43 PM

The issue of sound/noise is complex, as you will soon find out if you research and study it as I have. MD’s have told me that the human body via its adrenal glands is constructed to respond to loud sound/noises with fight or flight. In fact, if adrenals are stimulated too often and too long, they become over stressed and sooner or later, body illness in some form will develop. So, Bill, is it is not a simple flippant matter “as your cup of tea.”

Noise/sound types/kinds and levels vary in pitch and volume. Some stimulate the adrenals more than others. Individuals’ innate body-ability to cope with pitch and volume varies considerably also. As to sleep, some people sleep very soundly and others very lightly. Nrem and Rem factors in sleep patterns of both kinds of sleepers are complex but important to health and well-being and affected by noise/sounds.

Ear tolerance also varies somewhat but not as greatly. Young children’s’ ears and adrenals are especially sensitive and vulnerable to physical and hearing damage caused by loud noises/sounds. Some adults have lost significant hearing, so are less affected. Studies have shown that adults suffering the most recent significant hearing loss are those between the ages of 30 and 40.

Distance affects transmission and volume. Sound/noise barriers also vary in efficiency, often depending on the above factors. Intervening techniques such as “white noise” or sound machines to block out exterior sounds/noises work for some but not others and definitely not good for young children. Location of sleep areas to distance sleepers from the noise source is effective for some but not all.

Hotels particularly are concerned about exterior sounds affecting guests’ sleep. In spite of carefully restored single pane windows and thick heavy foam backed velvet drapes to cover them, the historic Richelieu in SF was forced to close some years ago because of late night/early morning noise from and related to the night club across the street. Interior of the Citizen Hotel is very “sound proof” but management offers earplugs to its guests for weekend visitors whose rooms face 10th because of nightclub noise across 10th street.

Double pane window quality and effectiveness can vary, as does apartment design. Double paned patio windows and balcony doors in my SF third floor Pine Street apartment served me very well from the heavy traffic but each apartment was also constructed with a large fireplace and partial wall between the living room and sleeping area. Double panes seemed less efficient in my Washington D.C 8th floor apartment BUT the sleeping area was adjacent to the wall facing the street. So that may have been the major factor.

Those of us who installed a special type of double pane here in Sacramento without violating the historic architecture have found them to be quite effective but still do not block out the truck noise, roars of speeding traffic, music volume, vibration or shrill party behavior. Even solid walls do not accomplish that.

But considering all of these variables, double pane is a good way to reduce noise/sound impacts.

January 29, 2011 | 5:24 PM

Laminated glass inserts stop everything including truck noise and vibration.

January 29, 2011 | 10:33 PM

If even solid walls aren’t enough, it sounds like there is just no hope. If the Citizen’s dual-pane replacement windows aren’t good enough either, why bother with the extra cost and effort to use them when single-pane will work just as well?

January 29, 2011 | 4:49 PM

There is no way you can compare old single glazed leaky wooden window with a retrofit that looks identical and much more energy efficient. This is where Sacramento historical folks get histerical about silly issues that have little or no importance.

January 29, 2011 | 5:23 PM

Sacres you got it partially right – poorly maintained vs well maintained are night and day. But there are ways to work with well maintained existing material and modern sound dampening technology to bring the best of both old and new at a lower cost. Noise is a huge issue in urban environments and has spurrned an entire industry devoted to it. And sound dampening has the added benefit of being very energy efficient.

January 29, 2011 | 6:52 PM

I’m a downtown homeowner, “young professional” and real estate salesperson. Numerous people have asked me about this project and it’s nice to get some info about it which I can share with them – thanks!

However, I share the frustration of some of these other posters about the over-emphasis placed on “historical significance” over practicality. The window issue is one of many gripes I’ve heard about over-zealous historical preservation efforts in place around the city. Redevelopment, particularly redevelopment fueled by public funds, needs to be governed by practicality, affordability and it’s ability to serve the needs of the people (in the present and the future). OF COURSE considerable efforts need to be made to accomplish realistic goals in both sustainability and historical preservation – but simultaneously these efforts should never come at the cost of practicality when the “trade off” is bad.

January 29, 2011 | 10:31 PM

Fixing old windows can be cheaper, and is always greener, than replacement windows. It’s a more practical solution in many ways. There are far better ways to increase energy efficiency in an old house than window replacement–sealing the building envelope, ceiling insulation, fixing cracks and gaps, and window restoration (which can be done with a few bucks in materials for each window.)

Replacing old-growth wood windows with vinyl NEVER pays for itself–if the windows lasted forever, theoretically they would pay back their investment cost in a couple of centuries, but typically they pop a seal within a decade and have to be replaced. Meanwhile, a properly maintained wood window can last the same century just fine.

Avatar of jat
February 1, 2011 | 9:33 AM

Who said anything about vinyl? We have FSC-certified wood windows with dual -pane low E glass, and they’re so quiet we didn’t hear a tree fall outside our bedroom one night. AND far, far more energy-efficient than any single-pane window. A single-pane window is basically a big hole, negating improvements in insulation.

February 1, 2011 | 4:39 PM

It appears that the Maydestone is not being marketed as luxury apartments. Those in the mid to low income range who appreciate the craftsmanship and character of the building and are interested in the cultural, social and ecological benefits of living in the urban core will be happy with their choice.

The key to reducing heat transfer in a building envelope is to reduce the air gaps, however, an older building benefits from a certain degree of ability to breathe- attempting to completely seal off an older building may trap moisture where it’s not wanted and have unpredictable effects. An upgraded heating and air system with added insulation to the exterior walls and sealed joints are “practical” solutions to rehabilitating an older building for energy efficiency and comfort. The compact floor area of the units means less wasted space to heat and cool.

As far as sound attenuation, the Model Ts, steam trains and jazz clubs were probably just as noisy as what urban life dishes out today. Sound is an irritant, but a young professional doesn’t live downtown for a bit of peace and quiet. I doubt there will be any regrets among investors or residents that the original windows were kept in place.

The real question is- will there be granite countertops?

February 1, 2011 | 5:47 PM

I am from the East Coast and thrilled to finally see some real historic preservation efforts going on here. Kudo’s to you! When are you giving tours?!

February 2, 2011 | 6:45 PM

There are some nice looking double pane windows out there, but they don’t match the charm of the old wavy glass. And most homeowners are not willing to spend the money to get something that matches the historic look. Midtown is full of nice old homes whose character has been forever diminished because people just put in the cheapest crap. I just had my windows weather stripped and restored and they work like new.

August 9, 2011 | 2:22 PM

the windows aren’t such a big deal (even tho i live in a Victorian & when window was vandalized they put in new better glass- so not impossible, they probably ARE being cheap). When are these apartments ready? i want to move now!

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