Community Voice

Renaissance Tower 20 Year Anniversary

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Back in 1989 twenty years ago, Sacramento completed a landmark structure that engulfed many of the nondescript low-rises strung around downtown and became the first high-rise to reach past the 20th floor becoming the cities tallest. Many locals like to refer to the building as “Darth Vader” because of its menacing shape and dark color. This tinted-glass high-rise was originally proposed at 25 floors but was amended to be 28 floors, which put the tower 160 feet above the Capitol dome. With much applause and hope, city leaders at the time expected the Renaissance Tower to represent a rebirth of downtown and K Street. At 372ft tall, this was the cities tallest building constructed during the 1980’s. This gem-shaped tower at the corner of 8th and K streets was counted upon to help revitalize the downtown mall and bring badly needed jobs and revenue to the central city.

In 1986 Mo Mohanna sold the old Clunie Hotel site to the Benvenutis (where the 28-story Renaissance Tower now stands) and after 60 years of use and being closed since March of 1980, the hotel was demolished to make way for the new high-rise. In 1987 developer Joe Benvenuti threatened to kill construction of the tower if the Sacramento City Council voted to impose stiff fees within the R Street corridor where several other proposals by Benvenuti were also on the drawing board. The council choose not to vote on its elaborate fee proposal that was an effort to raise money for downtowns revitalization. At the time, City Councilman David Shore was eager about the proposed tower saying “I think it’s going to be of immense value in cleaning up the Downtown” while at the same time city planning officials said that it could spark a revitalization of the city’s central business district.

I personally love the tower. Its gemlike shape has a nice shimmer late in the day when the suns setting and looks really impressive when storm clouds are rolling through reflecting slivers of light off the dark glass.


Architect: Daniel, Mann, Johnson, & Mendenhall (DMJM).
Developers: Joseph and Richard Benvenuti.
372 Feet Tall
28 Stories
$45 million to build.
336,000 square feet.
Ground-breaking August 24, 1987 and finished in 1989.
23,467 square feet of lobby and retail space
Seven-story parking garage with 510 spaces.
Glass-and-Granite exterior.
Last sale of tower in Jan. 08’ was just below $90 million.
The towers also know as 801 K Street and "Darth Vader" for it’s shape and color.

Since the Renaissance Tower was built, ten other high-rises over 300 feet have been erected in downtown Sacramento.

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