Back with a twist – ‘McKinley Village’ development being retooled

For the last 25 years developers have been trying and failing to build on a 48-acre piece of grassy, empty land in East Sacramento. Each and every time, the plans have fallen through due to fierce opposition or tough economic times.

They’re about to try again.

The low-lying “Centrage” site is bordered by the railroad and Business 80 and has remained mostly unscathed. The city’s former landfill, Sutter’s Landing Park, sits across the freeway to the north, while East Sacramento and McKinley Park are to the south.

The first proposal to develop the land came back in the 1980s, called “Centrage.” While the plot has retained the moniker, a development has yet to come to fruition.

"Why would someone live there?" said George Raya, a member of the Marshall School/New Era Neighborhood Association, which borders the land. "There’s a train on one side, the freeway on the other, and you’re landlocked."

Over the years several developers have submitted urban infill plans to the city, only for them to be either rejected, withdrawn, or postponed due to financial difficulties. The latest is similar to "The Village," a housing project from 2006, but with fewer amenities.

Development group Riverview Capital Investments hasn’t formally submitted a proposal to the city, though it’s updating the site design and getting community input through meetings. It anticipates submitting a proposal to the city within a few weeks.

Local developer and Riverview Capital Investments President Phil Angelides was also behind the 2006 effort. He’s well known for the Laguna West housing development in Elk Grove and for his political career – he was the California state treasurer from 1999 to 2007 and unsuccessfully ran against then incumbent governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.

"The overall goal will be a 21st century smart growth, urban village in the core of the Sacramento region that combines the character of the surrounding neighborhoods, sustainability features, and homes with modern amenities," Riverview Capital Investments Vice President Megan Norris wrote in an email. "Home designs and prices have not yet been set, but we would expect a wide range of homeownership opportunities – including housing for people who are already living in East Sacramento/McKinley Park, and who are seeking homes with modern amenities, more bedrooms, etc."

The housing development has been dubbed "McKinley Village" and will include about 400 homes. It will not include any church, commercial or mixed-use zoning for businesses such as a coffee shop, grocery store or laundry cleaner, according to Raya, who caught wind of the project while attending a community meeting with members of the development team this past week. There will also be no public transportation such as the Regional Transit bus going through the subdivision, and no school, he said, which are critical for a community’s well being.

As Raya sees it, Riverview Capital Investments is basically using the same blueprint as the "The Village" plans seen several years ago.

Despite the criticism, Riverview Capital Investments says this project will bring modern housing, which is too often only found in suburbia, to the city’s core.

And the demand is there, says Norris. "With the Sacramento economy and housing market recovering, there is a growing demand for homebuyers who want to live close to the urban core," she wrote. "There is also strong demand from residents in existing city neighborhoods for homes with modern floor plans and amenities (e.g. modern kitchens, energy efficiency, solar) – too often, the only alternatives for such homes are in suburban areas. Also, as the region begins to grow again, it is much more sensible and environmentally responsible to encourage urban infill development vs. development in far flung suburbs."

A history of failed attempts

The site has been described as challenging and difficult to develop, as it’s basically an island – surrounded by the freeway, railroad and nearby neighborhoods. But if anyone’s going to be successful in doing so, according to D3 Councilman Steve Cohn, it’s Angelides.

"If anyone’s going to do it, Angelides may be able to find that sweet spot," said Cohn, who in the ’80s led a charge opposing the "Centrage" development. "He’s very smart, he grew up in Sacramento, he knows how to do smart-growth development, and he’s also smart financially. If he can’t figure it out, I don’t think anyone can – I don’t think it would ever be developed if someone like Angelides can’t do it."

Previous proposed uses for the land included the ill-fated "Centrage" in the late 1980s, which would have included nearly 1,000 apartments and several high-rise office buildings. "The concept for the Centrage project was based on the character of a European city, with a mix of office, retail, entertainment, and residential uses to create a 24-hour pedestrian-oriented community," according to a city staff report.

It would have included more than 1 million square-feet of commercial office space, and room for retail, restaurants, daycare, a hotel, parking, open space and lakes. Cohn, a community activist at the time, said it was basically akin to building a second downtown.

"Obviously it didn’t make a lot of sense," he said Friday. "It had very poor access, and would have been impossible to serve transit. It was not a good candidate for high-density development."

In the face of strong opposition from neighborhood associations, the city council rejected the proposed development in 1992.

Four years later, another proposed development for the site came before the city. "Capital City Marketplace" included plans to turn the space into a 500,000-square-foot shopping center with two anchor retail stores, 13 smaller stores, restaurants and a gas station. Ultimately the project failed in 1997, when the developer and property owner didn’t negotiate a contract extension, according to the city.

The latest failed project, dubbed "The Village" in 2006, would have erected nearly 400 homes on the site, along with retail space, a church – the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation – and open space. But the project was eventually withdrawn in 2007, and in 2009, became stalled even further when one of the project’s partners, John Laing Homes, filed for bankruptcy.

According to Norris, the plans were "put on hold due to the overall economy and the weak housing market in the Sacramento region."

Critics already coming out against proposal

With plans being modified and community meetings already happening, there is already a bit of a buzz being generated about the proposed project, which Raya refers to as "Centrage 3."

"This is a really hot-button issue for the neighborhood," Raya said. Because there will be no freeway access, neighboring areas will see increased traffic flow from connector streets, he said. While it’s unclear how significant those impacts will be, neighbors made it very clear last time the housing project was proposed, that they wanted minimal to no noticeable increase in traffic, according to a “Fast Facts” document on the 2006 project.

And without bus access, those living there will be auto-dependent in an area that’s considered pedestrian and bicycle friendly. "It’s not a green friendly project, no matter what they say," he said.

But those already living in the East Sacramento/McKinley Park neighborhoods have very similar existing services and distances to transit, retail and jobs, Norris said. As an example, Norris said there is currently bus service at Alhambra and E streets, and residents of "McKinley Village" will be able to walk or bike to that stop via a bike/pedestrian underpass that the development group plans to construct, she said.

And someone living around 22nd and C streets would travel the same distance to a bus stop, Norris said. "As another example, someone living in ‘McKinley Village’ would travel the same distance to shopping (Safeway at Alhambra) as would someone at 22nd and C (Safeway on Alhambra or on 19th)."

The community would also be linked by three bike paths to Midtown and McKinley Park, Norris said. And when it comes to being "green," the homes will be more energy efficient than older homes.

"Finally, building this urban, infill community is much greener than developing in distant suburbs," Norris said.

What’s the timeline on this thing?

Community meetings are being held in surrounding areas, according to Norris, and the development group will continue working with neighbors to "create the best possible neighborhood – keeping in mind that urban infill is desirable and that a residential community compatible with the design of McKinley Park is highly preferable to existing allowed industrial uses," she said.

The city is waiting for a proposal from Riverview Capital Investments, and anticipates seeing a re-submittal sometime this spring, said Sacramento City Principal Planner Greg Bitter. But, until the file gets dumped on his desk, there’s no certainty.

"They talked to us a bit conceptually," he said. "There hasn’t been anything substantive to talk about, except they’re getting geared back up."

And the backlash isn’t unexpected, Bitter said. "Any time land is put forward for development, the folks in the neighborhood are going to be concerned about how it impacts them."

On Cohn’s end, he hasn’t attended any of the meetings, as he’s trying to remain neutral until the matter comes before the council. "I know I wouldn’t personally be willing to place bets on it," he said. "But I’m not the one putting money down on it – we’ll just have to wait and see."

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Avatar of ccc
February 8, 2013 | 5:25 PM

it doesn’t look all that close to mckinley park but is to i-80

February 8, 2013 | 5:28 PM

I took the park reference out the lead – but left it in on the “to the south” line. Hope that’s better.

February 12, 2013 | 9:52 AM

You mean Business 80 / Capital City Freeway, not Interstate 80.

February 8, 2013 | 5:41 PM

Here we go again…without a formal plan, neighborhood NIMBY’s are criticizing the project. I wonder if these folks ever get the connection that a major factor in Sacramento’s deteriorating, filthy air, is that only place any developer can build more than a single car garage is in the suburbs.. because city residents will complain and complain until either they bankrupt the developer or the developers just throw up their hands in disgust and walk away.

Long-live Heather Fargo… she has mentored many acolytes and the city still is being held back for it..

February 11, 2013 | 8:37 AM

Indeed. They claim to want “infill development”, but woe be it to anyone who actually tries to do any.

February 27, 2013 | 7:57 AM

You got that right. Steve Cohn, as described in the article, is really two-faced. He claims to want what he calls “Smart Growth” (i.e., denser European style city development), yet he fought Centrage, which was just that.

But then again, so many others are just the same. They *talk* about such developments, but they don’t want them anywhere near they live, do they?

February 8, 2013 | 9:36 PM

Is 28th st via sutter’s landing over that small bridge going to be the only entry/exit point? This seems rather odd. Those of us who live off 28th or C Street would likely see a significant increase in traffic if this is the case. Does anyone know if this is related to any plans for a Sutter’s Landing Parkway and freeway exit/entrance onto business 80? I seem to remember something about this several years ago, when there was talk about moving the zoo up there.

February 8, 2013 | 9:39 PM

And a single point of entry/exit seems somewhat dangerous for a small area trapped between a highway and a railroad track, both of which represent potential hazards for accidents/spills/etc. Plus, that entry/exit route actually requires getting closer to both transportation routes. It seems like this would be a difficult neighborhood to evacuate if needed.

February 8, 2013 | 9:44 PM

There are two other exits–a punch-through tunnel under the UP tracks through the secondary levee to Elvas Avenue, visible on the far right, and a pedestrian/bike tunnel, also punched through the railroad levee, to Alhambra Boulevard. Just coincidentally, those two holes are roughly where the really big storm of 1861-62 punched through the levee and flooded the city of Sacramento for months.

The 28th Street exit will be the most convenient for freeway access, but will be blocked frequently by trains, including Amtrak passenger trains and freight trains, which often have to stop to await clearance at the Elvas wye.

There are currently no plans for an additional freeway entrance/exit at the site.

February 9, 2013 | 3:11 PM

It is just those punch through tunnels that create the major concerns for East Sac. One is the increased flood risk. The other is while the Union Pacific parks its trains across the 28th Street crossing the only way in and out for any sort of vehicle will be through Elvis. Since no one knows when or how long the tracks will be blocked safe bet is go through East Sac, especially if headed to the Alhambra shopping district. CapCity at a standstill over the river? MicKinley village will make a great go around.

February 9, 2013 | 3:35 AM

In response to Rhys02, neighborhood activists are already criticizing the project, without formal plans, because the developer is using the maps and plans from 2006. The only difference in in 2006 Centrage 2 was ‘The Village’. The latest reincarnation, Centrage 3, is, ‘McKinley Village’. As with Centrage 1, which was rejected by the City in 1992, the development site STILL has very poor access. In your comments you state your concerns for Sacramento’s deteriorating, filthy air. How is the air quality going to be improve by building a suburban development in an urban infill? The residents of McKinley Village will be total automobile dependent because there will be no mix-use. The residents will have to get in their cars to take their children to school, go to Starbucks, do grocery shopping, etc.

Oh! And, schools! McKinley Village will be in the Twin Rivers School District. No developer fees will go to the Sacramento City Unified School District. However, at the meeting with the developer it was stated he did not see parents sending their children in schools six miles away. He foresees parents requesting inter-district transfers to enroll their children in Sacramento schools. Sacramento City schools would educate the children, but receive no funding from developer fees.

February 9, 2013 | 10:27 AM

On the schools issue, if the developer really wanted this to work, he would at least check and see if the Sac Board of Education would change the boundary to the river for the area. Some of the district boundaries are really stupid – we’re living with similar problems in North Natomas due to the Natomas/Twin Rivers boundaries.

Also – while I have to agree with what you said in the article about the freeway noise, the train noise shouldn’t be that big a deal – I lived in River Park for five years, which is still a very desirable place to be.

February 11, 2013 | 11:36 AM

“The residents will have to get in their cars to take their children to school, go to Starbucks, do grocery shopping, etc.”

News flash–that happens anyway, particularly among River Park dwellers. Not every store can be right where you want it to be.

“On the schools issue, if the developer really wanted this to work, he would at least check and see if the Sac Board of Education would change the boundary to the river for the area.”

It is not the developer’s fault if Twin Rivers won’t give up Mello-Roos for this development (assuming it even happens, and because of issues like this, I am betting it won’t).

February 9, 2013 | 9:23 AM

The best time for public comment is long before the project has been submitted–before the developer has sunk significant time and resources into design plans, paying architects, etcetera. It’s free market research for the developer, and lets them respond to community concerns very early in the cycle. I commend the developer for inviting community groups to attend the meeting. I was there, invited to attend by Julie Murphy of MSNENPA (thanks!) on behalf of Midtown Neighborhood Association. The other folks there were from Marshall School/New Era Park, Boulevard Park, and a couple of groups associated with Sutter’s Landing Park. There were no representatives from East Sacramento neighborhood organizations, perhaps the developer had a separate meeting with them. I wonder what they thought of this project?

Apparently the new proposal consists entirely of detached single-family homes, with fewer units per acre than the previous proposal, a very suburban 6-8 units per acre, and thus less dense than adjacent McKinley Park and much less dense than Marshall School/New Era Park. Calling this “urban,” “smart growth,” or “green” in any but the most token sense of the term is downright deceptive–it’s basically a little slice of Elk Grove, a neighborhood that will be utterly car-dependent from its first day.

The claim about transit proximity compared to 22nd and C is untrue–a person living at 22nd and C is 3 blocks from a bus route, while the closest point within the Centrage III development to a bus line is the house on the far side of the berm north of Alhambra Boulevard, about 4-5 blocks. But the person at 22nd and C is also two blocks from the nearest retail store (Rite-Aid), and within half a mile (the longest distance most people will easily walk) are city parks, restaurants, retail stores, offices and job centers–plus several other transit lines, including light rail. East Sacramento and McKinley Park residents also have much greater levels of walkability than this project will provide–as a traditional streetcar suburb, the neighborhood has old commercial corridors within walking distance of most of the neighborhood.

Walkability is based on proximity to multiple uses, interconnected streets, and a certain level of residential density, while single-use zones, long distances to other uses and lack of connectivity limit walkability. Higher walkability not only makes a neighborhood more comfortable (and according to many studies, more valuable), it also reduces auto trips and traffic.

The line about modern amenities isn’t true either–there is modern residential infill, including for-sale detached single-family housing, under construction in the central city grid right now, many with the latest in solar and green features. And older homes (especially those built before the 1940s) are actually quite energy efficient when properly maintained, although those are definitely a premium product (there are only about 2000 ownership housing units in the Grid.)

It’s interesting how perspectives have changed; in the 1980s there was resistance to a more vertical type of urban infill project, and suburbs were all the rage–in fact, the thing that was going to make us into a “world-class city” was a new sports arena built in the heart of a chunk of former farmland that would become a grand new suburb. Today, central city advocates criticize a project like Centrage III (whoops, “McKinley Village”) for being a too-suburban product so close to the urban core.

February 11, 2013 | 1:12 PM


February 11, 2013 | 5:43 PM

Curmudgeon, despite your paranoid fears about New Urbanist Trolleymen coming to socialize your McMansion, urban densities do not preclude the single-family home. Everyone who came to the meeting mentioned in this article were central city residents, not East Sacramento residents, so accusing them of living in the “forties” is geographically off base. Sacramento’s central city is 90% rentals (only 10% of housing in “the grid” is owner occupied) and Midtown is interspersed with both single-family and multi-unit housing on every block, from large free-standing single-family homes to high-density apartment buildings, often right next to each other. We’re the ones walking the walk AND talking the talk, and most central city residents don’t even have a backyard to tell developers not to build in! It’s a neighborhood that was “transit-oriented” and “mixed-use” a century ago, and still works pretty much the same today.

Although, now that you mention it, there is a very nice mid-rise condominium building in the Forties, on 41st Street south of Folsom just west of the East Lawn cemetery. It’s about a quarter-mile from a Light Rail station and a bus runs directly in front of the property. There are plenty of other nice condo buildings in the central city, including mid-rise buildings, low-rise row houses, detached single-family properties with a common HOA, and historic buildings divided up into lofts.

I don’t know offhand about proximity to Latin fornicators, but modern “green” housing (and well-retrofitted older housing) includes a lot of insulation, which is just as useful for sound dampening as it is for temperature control. And considering the proximity of the Centrage site to Highway 50 and an extremely busy railroad main line, they’ll have to insulate the heck out of these properties–so why not bump up the density?

Density benefits me as an individual because it makes walkability easier. Large detached lots with big yards and driveways and wide streets for cars make everything in a neighborhood farther apart and harder to walk to, although often in such neighborhoods there’s nothing worth walking to in the first place, so people drive instead. For the growing proportion of the population that would rather walk than drive, and values a walkable, interesting neighborhood, places like the traditional suburbs is strictly old news. Instead of salacious fantasies about hearing one’s neighbors “shtupp.” we say “hi” to our neighbors as we pass them on our neighborhood streets (instead of passing them anonymously in cars) or at our multitude of community gathering places and workplaces. A project that bore more similarity to that sort of neighborhood might have gone a long way toward winning over central city residents!

February 11, 2013 | 7:48 PM

“Apparently the new proposal consists entirely of detached single-family homes, with fewer units per acre than the previous proposal, a very suburban 6-8 units per acre, and thus less dense than adjacent McKinley Park and much less dense than Marshall School/New Era Park. Calling this “urban,” “smart growth,” or “green” in any but the most token sense of the term is downright deceptive–it’s basically a little slice of Elk Grove, a neighborhood that will be utterly car-dependent from its first day.”

This is not surprising–The most vocal pro-transit folks tend to live in single-family homes and advocate high-density homes for the rest of the populace–but not anywhere near where they live! No more high-density condos or apartments in or near their Fabulous Forties! I would sure hope they can tell the rest of us about the advantages of living in vibrant, high density environments…….

And I can’t really blame them. Speaking of Condos or Apartments, if you chose to live in a “Transit Oriented Development”, would it be a dwelling you would choose to RENT as an apartment? Or would it be someplace you would choose to BUY as a condominium? Can you provide an example of a nice high-density, owner-based development locally? Is it located within a quarter mile of an LRT station? Or a bus route for that matter?

Personally, I’d buy a condominium in a heartbeat, and not have to deal with the lawn, if I was unable to hear my neighbor’s crying children, extremely poor taste in music, sex habits, rutting / grumbling / sweaty / domestic dealings, smoking tendencies or poor tastes in music. Likewise, I’m sure my neighbors would say the same things about me.

Exactly how does “high density” development benefit me as an individual? Am I supposed to feel good about “being green” as I hear my neighbor shtupp his wife and talk nasty to her, while she moans and screams…… “Aiyyhh Papi!!!! Aye!!!”

February 11, 2013 | 8:07 PM

“Everyone who came to the meeting mentioned in this article were central city residents, not East Sacramento residents, so accusing them of living in the “forties” is geographically off base.”

OK–exactly what side of the freeway is this proposed development on again? Who does it most impact?

Meanwhile, the developer submits a proposal with fewer units per acre than the last one, because of one set of NIMBYs in the Fab Forties complaining about *too much* density, and then your set comes along and complains there isn’t enough density! Whip-Saw! Whip-Saw! Whip-Saw! And you wonder why infill development tends not to happen…..Again, they claim to want “infill development”, but woe be it to anyone who actually tries to do any.

How about letting the developer build what he wants to build, which will be what he can sell? If it is denser and mixed use, more power to him (and you).

“Instead of salacious fantasies about hearing one’s neighbors “shtupp.”"

Sorry, I used to rent an apartment around 25th and I before getting a single family home (and at 1450 square feet, it is hardly a McMansion) out toward Antelope. I lived it.

February 12, 2013 | 8:31 AM

There are two entry/exit points for this proposal: one at 28th and B Street, one at Elvas Avenue. So the effects on adjacent neighborhoods (in terms of traffic) will be equally split between Midtown and East Sacramento. Thus, the developer reached out to both groups.

We don’t know what East Sacramento thinks yet–they are holding their meeting tonight. I’m not sure here whether you are accusing Midtown and East Sacramento residents of not communicating with each other, and thus presenting two different answers (as though we were somehow obliged to agree with each other) or that we’re all part of some sinister conspiracy with each other.

Congratulations on buying a “value menu” McMansion instead of super-sizing it. Apparently your “shtupping” experience at 25th and I traumatized you so much that you never visit Midtown, or you would realize how wildly incorrect your statement about a lack of infill development is–there is a lot of infill going on all over the central city, something most of us consider a very positive thing.

February 27, 2013 | 8:01 AM

And yet, Centrage was just the development Willam Burg seems to want, and it was blocked. Curmudgeon may not want to live in such a place, but he seems to be content to let developers build places like Centrage if they want.

February 9, 2013 | 10:39 AM

The Twin Rivers School distrinct thing seems strange as well, I’m not even sure where the closest Twin Rivers School would be for them, I wonder what the rationale for not being part of Sac Unified is. I’d be curious to get East Sac’s prespective on this. When you look at the proposed map it actually reminds me of River Park a bit, limited acces in and out, isolated, low walkscore suburban style development but without a school, any amenities or public transit.

February 9, 2013 | 8:40 PM

Apparently because it’s north of the UP mainline, it is in the Twin Rivers district instead of Sac City.

February 9, 2013 | 9:17 PM

The old Dos Rios Elementary on Richards Boulevard is probably the closest Twin Rivers school, but it’s now a charter school.

February 10, 2013 | 9:29 PM

I thought rfuller was saying that this new proposal is like River Park except it lacked those things — i.e., River Park has them, this development does not.

February 9, 2013 | 11:24 AM

Let’s get one fact on the table.

When I first proposed the Centrage, I had in my hand, a freeway interchange approval from the State of California. The approved interchenge would have had zero impact on any local neighborhoods—zero. There were no accesses to the local streets from the Centrage site.

But that fact didn’t satisfy the NIMBYs. So they lobbied the city to expand the dump across the freeway in such a way that an interchange would be forever precluded. Nice short term thinking!

At the same time, to address neighborhood concerns that some of the buildings might visible from East Sacramento I lofted large balloons to the height of the buildings of concern. Very few residences could see these balloons.

That didn’t assuage any of the virulent opposition.

I could go on and on but none of it would ever convince those who could not conceive of the benefit of a true mixed use community. Perhaps they should have ventured from Sacramento to see what I had envisioned become a popular form of infill development throughout the remainder of the civilized world

Jim Lennane

February 9, 2013 | 3:33 PM

If there was a shred of vision with the Sacramento city government this would have been a wonderful park. The orchard the developers ripped out could be replanted. The property could be used as a teaching center for ag.and horticulture.

That would at least limit the exposure to the very high pollution to working hours.

Would any intelligent parent want to raise children in such a polluted environment?

February 11, 2013 | 1:17 PM

This must be some special kind of pollution that knows how stop right at Elvas Avenue.

February 9, 2013 | 2:28 PM

Just as civic engagement is hitting one of its lowest points in Sacramento “Centrage” raises its ugly head. “Centrage” gives the Curtis Park Railyards project a run for its money as the project in the last decade or more to create the most civic engagement by the impacted residents.
In fact, the last stab at “Centrage” created several associations between both East Sac/Midtown and Curtis Park groups that opposed part or all of both plans.

Maybe fighting the latest round of “Centrage” will take Midtowner’s minds off who is going to be assaulted and robbed next.

February 9, 2013 | 3:26 PM

This project has a few problems, there are too few outlets and transit would be impossible here. Everything built out of this neighborhood would be car dependent, since it doesn’t connect up to East Sac but only 28th Street and Elvas via Lannat St. There would have to be a way to connect this to Alhambra Blvd, but this would still be a nightmare for those without vehicles.

February 9, 2013 | 10:26 PM

Thank You for writing about the newest housing development proposed for the old “Centrage” site. Again, the Sacramento Press is providing news not covered in the Sacramento BEE.

February 10, 2013 | 6:08 PM

Thank you for a great summary article. East Sacramento Preservation will hold one of those public meetings. Check our website for details… we’re waiting for the company to confirm a meeting date of this Tuesday 7-8 at the Clunie Clubhouse, East Sacramento Room.

February 10, 2013 | 6:40 PM

Great article. I won’t pretend to be directly affected by the project, but I will say that local residents, in the spirit of pragmatism, should be willing to compromise on the future of this project. It clearly as numerous shortcomings. Which among them, if overcome, could represent a project appropriate for the area? These infill spaces should represent opportunities, not liabilities for residents, which *should* bring improved transit, aesthetics, and amenities, I have little doubt that the developer, despite feet dragging and constant complaints could make that happen. But that isn’t a reason to fight tooth and nail against ANY project. Local residents can make it clear that they fight only a poor project that doesn’t meet the lofty standards of a beautiful and tight-knit community, but that the developer does have the opportunity to meet those standards.

February 10, 2013 | 9:02 PM

There is no need for “compromise” at all–the city doesn’t go around and poll approval for the project with local neighborhood groups, or require a vote of support from nearby neighborhoods. The developer asked some neighborhood groups for feedback about what they thought about the project (as vague as it is at this point) and feedback was provided. The feedback was mostly negative, but it was also honest and factual. Maybe it’s not the response they were hoping for, but it is useful to them. It’s better to hear about potential problems way out in front of a project than late in the approval phases or during build-out, when plans are harder to change and CEQA lawsuits harder to avoid.

They aren’t going to bring any amenities or any transit, that much has already been made clear. There isn’t even a clear project at this point, so there isn’t really any “tooth and nail” issue to fight either.

Think of it this way. If you invite me over to see your band practice and ask my opinion, and I think your band sucks, and say so, that’s what my opinion is. There is no need for me to “compromise” on my opinion because you want me to like your band. It is your band’s obligation to meet my standards if you want me to like them. You may decide that my poor opinion of your band isn’t enough reason to change your musical style, because you think enough people will like it anyhow, but if that’s the case, why did you ask my opinion? And if I lie and tell you your band is great because I don’t want to hurt your feelings, I’m not doing you any favors if you later hit the stage and everyone else thinks your band sucks too.

February 11, 2013 | 11:35 AM

I appreciate that and civic participation is always a good thing. Certainly, if this is shaping up to be a sub-par project, I’m glad people are speaking up.

That wasn’t exactly my point though. My point, using your analogy, is that if I invite you to my band practice and we suck, you can either say we suck, or you can say that the mix was bad, the guitar was too distorted and the base player missed the late F#. When people are complaining, and they should, they should do their best to have concrete improvements that would improve the projects. And then, if those improvements are made, to actually come out in favor of the project. I’m not saying that’s not happening, but with this, just like every infill project in established neighborhood, the NIMBY contingent can quickly drown out the contingent that actually sees this spot, if done right, as a win for infill.

February 11, 2013 | 12:27 PM

Ryan, that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t just throw beer cans at the project manager and tell them they sucked, we gave them specific information about our concerns, potential effects of the project, and asked detailed questions about expected traffic levels, housing types, densities, potential alternatives, open space, parks, groundwater contamination, flood levels, sound mitigation, mixed use, transit orientation, and so on. We talked about the effects of nearby projects and compared it to successful and unsuccessful examples of urban infill and suburban development. They took notes and we’ll see what they do with it.

Generally, any response to any development project other than fawning adulation gets us called “NIMBY,” to the point where the term has no meaning whatsoever, so I figure it’s something to turn on its head and wear with pride, like other insulting pejoratives that have been recontextualized.

This isn’t an infill project, by the way. It isn’t in an established neighborhood, it is on farmland that has never been part of any neighborhood, so technically speaking, it’s a greenfield project.

February 11, 2013 | 10:22 AM

Once again, this illustrates the need for better road connectivity within the City of Sacramento.

An extension of Richards Boulevard along the south bank of the American river, past the former CIty Dump now park and around Midtown and connecting to Lanatt Street and Elvas Avenue, would take the traffic between downtown / Natomas and the Cannery Industrial Park / Cal State University out of Midtown entirely, and make bus service and development much more feasible for this vacant spot.

This plan has been on the books since the 1950s. The parkway has been planned as the “Elvas-Richards Connector.” As its name states, it was intended to connect Elvas Avenue to Richards Boulevard, creating a bypass of Central Sacramento.

The route has since been re-named “Sutter’s Landing Parkway,” but the proposed route has been truncated to end at Business 80 to appease the NIMBYs in East Sacramento. If you ever travel down Elvas Avenue northwest of Sac State, you’ll notice that the street is wide enough to carry four to six lanes of traffic in certain spots, but only has two through lanes.

There is no timetable to build this road, and I doubt it will be built. Funding and NIMBYs come to mind, here.

February 14, 2013 | 1:46 AM

This would be a great connect for these homes. It would not only easily connect the McKinley Village to downtown, it would have a small problem working around the Sutter’s Landing Park but it would be workable. There is a bridge just after the Union Pacific bridge which was called the A st Bridge that could be the connector across Bus 80 through McKinley Village and to Elvas via Lannatt St.

February 27, 2013 | 8:33 AM

Ah, but the “East Sacramento Improvement Association” (sic) doesn’t want this to happen. See:

“Stopped the Elvas/Richards Connector which would have added 25,000 cars per day on Elvas Avenue”. And conveniently blocks anything from ever being built on this parcel, as these same obstructionists will complain about lack of transit access. Without a major road, that is not surprising.

February 11, 2013 | 10:42 AM

Don’t know if there is any connection, but there are numerous survey stakes in the parcel across business 80 from the parcel being discussed: this is the triangular parcel bounded by Business 80, the American River, and the Union Pacific tracks.

February 11, 2013 | 12:28 PM

That’s the dump, and Sutter’s Landing Park.

February 11, 2013 | 12:37 PM

No, the one I am speaking of is across the train tracks from the dump. If you are driving north on Biz 80, it is on your left just before you cross the river. The dump is PAST the triangular one, over the train tracks

February 11, 2013 | 5:24 PM

Not part of the parcel being discussed–I think that bit may end up being part of Sutter’s Landing Park. That close to the American River, I can’t imagine anyone trying to develop it!

February 11, 2013 | 1:50 PM

Dump adjacent. Right next to where they sound the train horn. Should be lovely.

February 11, 2013 | 2:48 PM

No freeway? No Bus? How much closer do you need to get? 80 & bus line are just a few blocks away.
Thank the gods for bikes!

So I got a “thumb down” – because you disagree, too lazy or what?

February 11, 2013 | 8:02 PM

Just saw this on the Marshall School/New Era Neighborhood Association Facebook page. This is an important Midtown issue. Please attend this meeting to hear what our East Sacramento neighbors think about this project and how it will impact Midtown and East Sacramento.

East Sacramento Preservation is hosting the design team from Riverview Capital Management 7-8 pm February 12th at the Clunie Clubhouse East Sacramento Room. How do you want this area of land developed?

February 12, 2013 | 9:55 AM

Good report. Seems fairly written, taking points from pro (developer) and con (community leader) sides. I’m surprised the report itself has so many “thumbs down” votes. Somehow I think people are mistaking “thumbs up” as meaning “this news makes me happy” rather than “this is a well-written, well-researched report.” Hopefully Ms. Wilkinson (author) is not discouraged by that.

February 12, 2013 | 9:56 AM

Personally, I am not against this project; the property should be used. However, the access issues are very serious; I have walked over that tiny bridge over Business 80, and as it is now it would not be sufficiently wide enough to handle all of the greatly increased traffic flow. That would mean the punch through to Elvas Avenue would be a necessity.

I think the developers could help themselves a lot if they indulged in some long range, bigger picture thinking and forced the city to do the same.

February 12, 2013 | 10:12 AM

Make that the “community leaders” rather than the developers. The developers didn’t oppose a connector between Richards Blvd and Elvas Avenue.

February 12, 2013 | 10:50 AM

There have been no changes made since 2006 regarding the traffic flow, even though neighborhood concerns are exactly the same as 2006.
• The Developers don’t seem concerned about how the increased traffic will affect the overall plan for Sutter’s Landing Park.
• The Developers don’t seem concerned about protecting the natural habitat and species along the river and at Sutter’s Landing Park.
• The Developers are not concerned about how the increased traffic will affect the Marshall School/New Era Park neighborhood.
• The Developers don’t seem concerned about the customers who will be buying their homes in a land-locked area without any infrastructure to meet their needs.
• The Developers want to advertise living in East Sacramento but there is no direct access to East Sacramento.
• At the 28th Street crossing, there are 43 trains and 1777 vehicles already at that crossing because of Bell Marine, the park goers, and City maintenance corp yard. Adding additional vehicles will create traffic congestion at 28th Street and “A Street.”
• I’m extremely concerned that the money from this project will go to Twin Rivers School District instead of Sac City School District. That doesn’t make any sense. We have all the problems and our schools receive none of the money.

I feel like the developers want to push this project through the City, do a quick build, make some quick money, and be gone when all of the problems arise. This project doesn’t seem well-planned overall. For a housing project this large, there should be a freeway entrance & exit. You can’t just dump several thousand additional cars onto 28th Street and walk away. There also needs to be infrastructure in the development (grocery store, gas station, coffee shops, etc.) The builder could fix some these issues, but they don’t want to spend the money and take away from their profits.

February 12, 2013 | 1:25 PM

Excellent summary! The city and developers have long been famous for “grabbing what they can get NOW cheap and easy. ” Then let the chips fall where they may. As one past city manager put it at a meeting, “Those are all reasonable concerns but we’ll take care of those problems later”.

But because those problems are more costly to the city “later” and it never has the money to do so, the city never takes action to correct the problems it and developers created. In the meantime the developers sit cozily and financially comfortable in their far distant neighborhoods and the short sighted city officials draw their sweet pensions.

February 12, 2013 | 10:03 PM

If you are impacted by this project or have concerns, send an email to Council member Steve Hansen at Steve Hansen at

Avatar of t3x
February 13, 2013 | 1:54 PM

The City would be better off swapping the parcel with the zoo and putting the zoo on Centrage. There’s plenty of access around Land Park, as well as shopping and park space, and the zoo doesn’t need multiple entry points.

February 13, 2013 | 3:13 PM

Sewage and storm drains. How will they impact an already overwhelmed system? Are the developers planning to ameliorate the impact all the way through the system?
I fail to see how expanding the built area in a flood plain makes any kind of sense.

February 18, 2013 | 8:20 AM

I like the idea of a zoo, but wouldn’t the freeway noise affect the new population who is used to such quiet in Land Park !

July 13, 2013 | 8:51 AM

Angelides, spend your millions developing Sac URBAN BLIGHT not ruining a quiet, quaint, and historical neighborhood. Ridiculius! Shame on you!

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