Monday, February 15, 2016

Will Sacramento soon be known for THIS iconic building?

There is the Empire State Building in New York City, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and even the Transamerica Building in San Francisco. In fact, most major cities have an iconic architectural marvel that comes to define them. Will Sacramento be getting its very own architectural marvel?

Sacramento’s signature building could soon be gracing the city skyline, as a new project downtown is in the works – and it’s not the new King’s arena.

A proposed new tower on Capitol Mall and 3rd Street, now site of the infamous eyesore “hole in the ground” city block, would rise a statuesque 30 stories above the city streets, a modern complex with glass facing, open pedestrian walkways, landscaped terraces and balconies. It would include a mix of office and retail space, restaurants and cafĂ©, and 100 luxury apartments.

This may sound familiar, as the same site was home to another ambitious project almost ten years ago– developer John Saca’s duel Towers, which fell apart infamously along with the real estate crash. The site has sat vacant and in disrepair ever since, with concrete pylons “like gravestones” the only remnants of its demise.

But now, with the new King’s Golden 1 Center and other development projects revitalizing downtown, the 420-foot single tower could become a reality. Last week, Los Angeles developer CIM Group released a rendering of what the tower could look like – and it is stunning. The building would instantly be in the running for the tallest building in Sacramento (plans have not been finalized yet, but right now the building would only be the second tallest in the city, just a few feet shorter than the nearby Wells Fargo tower) and help Sacramento’s horizon rival that of any city in the country.

Designed by renowned global architectural firm Gensler, the building would feature a seventh-floor outdoor landscaped terrace that would be open to the public and provide spectacular views of the Capitol and Sacramento River. Two more landscaped terraces will adorn the tower further up, probably one for office tenants and the other for apartment residents. The building would also have parking for 1,260 cars on the ground floor, lower floors devoted to retail and modern office space you might see at tech firms, with open floor plans and high ceilings. In fact, offices are expected to take up about two-thirds of the 1.1 million square feet of the building.

Although the architectural drawings that were just released are reason for grand optimism, CIM Group and city officials preach patience, as construction probably wouldn’t begin until 2018 even under the best circumstances.

“This is a very preliminary vision,” said Avi Shemesh, co-founder of CIM Group. In partnership with CalPERS on the project, they still don’t even have a target price tag, yet alone a feasible budget. Not coincidentally, CalPERS was a partner on Saca’s Towers a decade ago.

“We’ve waited since 2007,” said CalPERS chief investment officer Ted Eliopoulos, who mandated funding be pulled from Saca’s Towers for cost overruns in the then-failing economy. “We’ve been patient. The economic conditions in Sacramento are improving. ... There’s a window opening.”

Reportedly, Shemesh is hesitant to fund and commit to a project that isn’t fully occupied. But bolstered by the Golden One Center only a block away slated to open this October, Shemesh thinks that “there are a lot of stars that are aligned here.”

But before we start penciling in the epic ultra-modern building into Sacramento’s skyline, the project still needs building permits and vetting in the city’s entitlement process. Attracting an anchor office tenant that could commit to 400,000 of square feet of space is probably the keystone that would allow construction to begin.

“While it’s not as pie-in-the-sky as the previous project, this is a beautiful project,” said City Councilman Steve Hansen. “This is a realistic project we can get built.”

What do you think about the proposed design? And what should we name it?

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