Business & Real Estate

Sacramento may get its first Airbnb-style ‘hotel’ near downtown tourist venues

A developer is proposing a short-term rental hotel, 14i Hotel, near the convention center.
A developer is proposing a short-term rental hotel, 14i Hotel, near the convention center. HRGA Architecture

A developer has proposed what appears to be a housing first in Sacramento: a six-story short-term rental complex that would sit two blocks from Memorial Auditorium and the Sacramento Convention Center.

The building, which could be built in the next year, is called the 14i Hotel. However, the project would not be a hotel, at least not in the classic sense. There would be no formal lobby or employees on site.

Instead, the units would be rented through Airbnb. Renters would key themselves in via a smart phone app. They’d retrieve their door key from a lock box.

David Sowels, who operates Cogent Bay Inc., a Bay Area development and short-term rental company, said this is the first time he has done a project like this. Sowels said Sacramento’s limitations on Airbnb projects make it hard to run a large business in Sacramento using houses and apartments.

His plan is to build a 19-unit facility on vacant land at 826 14th St., between H and I streets, and likely rent to people attending events at the nearby auditorium and convention center, as well as other tourists.

“It seems to be a good location with the convention center nearby,” Sowels said. “That attracted us to the location. We have Airbnb’s in other locations, but found it difficult to do that in Sacramento in an apartment or a house.”

The project is in a commercial zone, Sowels said, which makes it easier to operate a short-term rental property than in a residential district, he said.

Sowels, who works in Fairfield, estimated that the project is about one year away from construction.

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