Power shovels rumbled through their paces on West Sacramento’s waterfront this week as a clutch of workers began early construction on The Barn, a new entertainment space envisioned as an anchor of the city’s Bridge District.
Work on the half-acre site comes months after the original groundbreaking date last July. But West Sacramento City Councilman Chris Ledesma this week shrugged off the delay for the $5.6 million project, saying the city was “working through issues with the architects. It took time to get our ducks in a row.”
Sacramento-based project developer Fulcrum pulled the Barn permit March 6, and West Sacramento-based Brown Construction Inc., began preparing the site immediately after, said Stephen Jaycox, Fulcrum’s design director. Jaycox said the construction schedule points to a December completion date for the shell structure – the structure’s exterior and site improvements.
“They’re ready to go,” Ledesma said, adding the city remains pleased with the project’s progress. “We went from concept to project in the ground within the year,” he said. “Spring is here; people are riding their bikes. We want to activate the waterfront.”
Tenant improvements will come after the shell structure is built. Sacramento eatery LowBrau, co-owned by TBD Fest co-founders Clay Nutting and Michael Hargis, is the venue’s concessionaire and will program a majority of Barn events, Ledesma said. West Sacramento will also get a certain amount of dates, Ledesma added.
The TBD electronic music festival decamped from Sacramento last year for new digs on the Barn site. The October event drew about 21,000 fans to see Empire of the Sun, Moby and Blondie, among other acts. Though no agreement is in place for a 2015 festival, Ledesma said city staffers have had informal talks with TBD and would like to see the festival return to the riverfront.
“We had a lot of success with TBD – it really showed what the riverfront could do,” Ledesma said. “We’ll welcome them back if they’re ready to go again.”
Nutting on Tuesday said he was “excited to have the project get underway. We’re drawn to it for a lot of reasons. It’s such a compelling project and a great story of West Sacramento and Sacramento’s connection to the river,” Nutting said. “We’re excited to see that.”
City planners and developers envision events at The Barn centered on food and music, with a weekend beer garden. All would capitalize on pedestrian and bicycle traffic anticipated in the Bridge District, West Sacramento’s push to become a food and urban farming hub and the Sacramento region’s growing reputation as a craft-brewing mecca.
A small wooden sign marking the project site says as much, touting the project as a “landmark culinary & events destination on the riverfront.”
At Third Strike Cafe on Third Street near Raley Field, owner Monica Guillen was closing up after lunch. She said she was looking forward to the new project as another attraction to join the ballpark up the street.
“I think it’ll all be positive,” Guillen said from behind the counter. “It’ll increase the traffic (but) it remains to be seen. West Sacramento has always been forward looking and focused on development.”
Ellen Maurizio is a young professional who lives in Sacramento and works near West Sacramento’s waterfront.
“It should be a nice anchor for the riverfront,” Maurizio said, grabbing a quick snack. “I’d probably get a beer there after work.”
Much continues to take shape along the west side of the Sacramento River. Residents are beginning to move into the Park Moderns development and nearby Rivermark apartments. The city in recent months has cleared out space for future development on Pioneer Bluff south of the Bridge District.
After years of planning and development, the district is “starting to feel like an emerging neighborhood,” Ledesma said.
Meantime, South River Road east of the new Mike McGowan Bridge has reopened for the first time in four years and the city has applied for federal grants to help refurbish and reopen the Mill Street Pier on the river below Riverfront Street as a pedestrian overlook and fishing spot. Grant awards for the $954,000 pier project are expected to be announced in May, city officials say.
Ledesma recalled a community bicycle tour through the city he helped lead last year. The trek wound through a Bridge District still largely under construction and the vacant land where The Barn will stand.
“Back then, it was just a project,” Ledesma said. “A year later, people will see what we were envisioning.”
Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.