New Kings ownership group to buy Downtown Plaza arena site

Published: Tuesday, May. 21, 2013 - 2:13 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 - 5:30 pm

The prospective owners of the Sacramento Kings are buying not only the team but also Downtown Plaza, where they and the city plan to build a new arena.

Local developer Mark Friedman, a member of the group buying the Kings, said the consortium headed by Silicon Valley tech executive Vivek Ranadive is now under contract to buy the mall site from JMA Ventures.

Friedman declined to disclose the purchase price.

The sale involves much of the land between Fourth, Seventh, J and L streets. It doesn't include the independently owned Macy's store at the west end of the plaza, or a few other adjacent buildings that are not part of the arena project site, such as the Marshall Hotel at Seventh and L streets.

In an emailed statement Tuesday, JMA Ventures President Todd Chapman confirmed the pending sale to Ranadive. He also declined to reveal the price.

JMA, a San Francisco and Truckee developer and recreation site manager, bought the mall last fall for $21.7 million from Westfield Co. It will continue to operate the center.

Friedman said the transfer of ownership puts both the arena and much of the surrounding area into a single entity's hands, making it easier to move forward on building the sports and entertainment facility along with associated development on the plaza site.

"The nice thing is there is a complete identity of ownership between the arena and all the surrounding uses," said Friedman, owner of Fulcrum Property, the arena developer. "JMA will be working as our developer/consultant."

Chapman said JMA Ventures will be master developer for the broader, non-arena development on the six-block site, and will have an ownership stake in that development.

Most of the existing Downtown Plaza structures will be torn down, officials said. The arena is expected to be situated in the center of the plaza site, taking up less than two blocks.

Other new development projects on-site could include a hotel, housing, stores, restaurants, a new cinema and other entertainment venues, such as a bowling alley, officials said.

The Ranadive group, which signed a deal late last week to buy the Kings from the Maloof family, is awaiting NBA approval of its team purchase. League spokesman Mike Bass said the league finance/advisory committee is expected to vote this week on a recommendation on the sale, and the league's board of governors will cast its official vote "before the end of May."

Escrow is expected to close on the team sale at the end of the month.

In the meantime, the Ranadive group, in conjunction with JMA and the city of Sacramento, is pushing forward with plans to build a $448 million arena at Downtown Plaza. It faces a tight deadline to get the building open by fall 2016.

An environmental review process has been launched, and Friedman said he expects to hire an arena project management company in the next few weeks.

Michael Ault, head of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, said JMA stepping aside as a property owner makes sense. "Now you've got the ultimate buck-stops-here opportunity with somebody who controls the team, controls the development opportunity, controls the land," Ault said.

Ranadive likely has another sale ahead of him soon.

Following league rules, he is expected to sell his ownership shares of the Golden State Warriors at about the time his purchase deal for the Kings closes escrow. A source close to Ranadive said the prospective Kings owner is "actively talking to people right now about selling his shares."

Alternatively, Ranadive may be allowed to place his Warrior shares in a blind trust, a league source said.

Call The Bee's Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. Follow him on Twitter @tonybizjak.

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