Picture the north side of R Street, that hip stretch between 14th and 15th streets just south of downtown Sacramento. Several restaurants occupy the space Cafe Bernardo, Burgers & Brew, Magpie Cafe, Shady Lady Saloon. So, the area gets a lot of foot traffic.
But across the street on the south side of R 1800 R St. is the address the scene is blighted by one of those nondescript warehouse-looking state office buildings. The building isn't just unattractive. It has become an eyesore. Dead leaves carpet the sidewalk. There's graffiti on the windows and garbage everywhere. Rotting food, used styrofoam containers, paper plates, plastic cups and grocery bags litter the scraggly bushes that pass for landscaping.
I know. I know. There are a lot of unkempt properties around. But here's what prompted my rant about this specific building. It has a State of California seal on the window and the sign below it reads "Department of Personnel Administration, Benefits Division." Appalled that the state would allow a building it occupied to become a public nuisance, I called General Services, the property managers of state government, to complain.
Officials there told me that the state doesn't own the building (whew! that's good to know). But it used to lease it. The state's lease expired in November. Apparently no one has occupied the building since then. So, it's vacant. That explains why the maintenance has deteriorated, but it doesn't excuse it.
After a little more digging, I learned that my planned rant could morph into a good news story. It seems the former owner of the building recently sold it. The new owners took possession a week or so ago. They plan to turn the building into a combination retail-restaurant space. Even better, they've hired local architect Ron Vrilakas, well known for his design talents, to re-imagine the space. In fact, Vrilakas told me it's only the first of the so-called "Buzz Boxes" office buildings thrown up by local developer Buzz Oates along the R Street corridor that will be rebuilt. So things are looking up.
Still, whoever owns the building during this transition period needs to maintain it. Failure to do so is unfair to the neighbors and the public.
And I have a suggestion for the state. Remove California's name and seal from the building ASAP. Given the condition the building is in now, it only serves to make government look bad and to generate more calls from professional cranks like me.