Business & Real Estate

High bidder has big plans for Sacramento’s historic Senator Hotel

The Senator Hotel at 1121 L St., across from the State Capitol, is likely being sold to Swift Real Estate Partners, a San Francisco investment company.
The Senator Hotel at 1121 L St., across from the State Capitol, is likely being sold to Swift Real Estate Partners, a San Francisco investment company. lsterling@sacbee.com

Look for some big changes at Sacramento’s historic Senator Hotel following its likely sale to a San Francisco investment firm next month.

Swift Real Estate Partners was the high bidder at an unusual auction last week for the U-shaped office building across from the Capitol on L Street.

“We think this is an asset that can be taken to another level ... with a little TLC inside and outside,” said Alan Walker, a Swift vice president.

What sort of TLC? Walker said the company plans to improve exterior facades, reconfigure some floor space, add conference rooms and workout facilities and possibly bring a restaurant into one of the building’s ground-floor retail spots.

Brett Miles, a Swift asset manager, said the company also hopes to activate the building front by adding outdoor seating that takes advantage of its location “on the doorstep of the Capitol.”

Swift emerged as the high bidder at the auction, offering about $31.8 million (including fees) for the nine-story building at 1121 L St. The seller was LNR Property of Miami, and the Sacramento office of Jones Lang LaSalle helped with marketing.

The Senator, which opened in 1924, historically has been home to some of the city’s top lobbying firms. It captured international attention in 1975 when one-time Manson family member Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme aimed a gun at then-President Gerald Ford after he emerged from the building. The gun did not fire.

Walker said Swift hopes to close on the sale next month and then will work on boosting occupancy above the current 72 percent level.

The building’s biggest asset? “Obviously, it’s the location,” he said. “It’s (at) probably the best corner in all the Sacramento central business district.”

Swift has been an active player in the Sacramento market this year. In April, it acquired a five-story building at 630 K Street, near the Kings arena construction site, for about $26 million. The company later went into escrow to buy the seven-floor Capital National Bank building at 700 J St. but opted not to pursue that deal, Walker said.

Aim for the roof

One of the region’s few remaining dedicated golf driving ranges – the Leader Golf Complex at 3060 El Centro Road in Natomas – has been getting a face-lift over the past year and a half.

The main fairway area has been leveled off and replanted. There’s a new three-hole setup for duffers working their short games, a nine-hole kids’ “putt-putt” course and a 1,200-square-foot entertainment deck with two 60-inch TVs, a fire pit and lounge chairs.

Hours have been expanded to draw some of the late-night golf crowd – and expansion into a neighboring wheat field is being contemplated.

“This place was pretty rundown,” said Ryan Chua, who has invested about $140,000 in the business since becoming a co-owner in January 2014. He added: It’s well along to being rejuvenated.

Now, in preparation for a “re-grand opening” to be held Saturday, Chua has rolled a 2004 Nissan Sentra onto the range, about 165 yards from the 35 matted tees. It’s caused double takes from customers, including local real estate broker Chris Strain, who was taking a lesson there on Tuesday morning.

Strain was warming up when he noticed the auto and said to his instructor: “There’s a car out there. I better wait.” The pro told him to swing away.

Chua, who is 34, said he will have targets painted on the car by Saturday and expects plenty of customers aiming to satisfy a golfer’s deep-seated desire for destruction.

As he put it, “Who wouldn’t want to hit a car with a golf ball on purpose?”

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