Business & Real Estate

Cutting-edge building in midtown Sacramento will use prefab units made at McClellan Park

Developers broke ground a few days ago at 16th and N Streets for the new Eviva Midtown apartment building. But in reality, most of the complex will be built miles away in a former aircraft hangar.

The six-story project – formerly called The Warren – will be constructed piece by piece out of prefabricated housing units assembled by Zeta Communities at McClellan Park in North Highlands. The modular units will be trucked to the building site, where a crane will lift and stack them atop a concrete podium.

The individual units will roll off the assembly line at the Zeta plant complete with bathrooms, kitchens and flooring. They will be bolted together, connected to utilities and covered with a roof and external “skin” to create five stories of apartments above street-level shops and underground parking.

“There’s tremendous time saved because we’re working on what will go on top of the foundation while (the general contractor is) doing site work and utilities,” said Dennis Gleason, project manager at Zeta. “By the time they finish the foundation, we have units stored here that are ready to be shipped to the site and put in place.”

It’s the first time the method has been used in the capital, though several structures in Davis, San Francisco and Silicon Valley have been assembled from Zeta’s prefab units.

The midtown structure is also a first for Atlanta-based developer The Integral Group, which intends to build more Eviva-brand apartments in San Francisco, Denver and Atlanta. The Sacramento building is a prototype of sleek inner-city apartment buildings that will replace urban eyesores.

“The word Eviva is literally the center of the word revival,” Chris Martorella, president of Integral’s investment management division, told an audience at Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony. He called the project’s modular construction “the future” of efficient building techniques, although he said it won’t be used in the other Eviva projects.

When completed in late 2015, Eviva Midtown will feature 118 high-end rental units, a yoga studio and a movie-screening lawn, among other amenities, Martorella said. Plans for the ground floor include more than 5,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Rents will range from $1,600 a month for a one-bedroom apartment to $2,150 for a two-bedroom unit, and premium corner units will rent for more, said Marc de la Vergne, deputy executive director of the Capital Area Development Authority, the city-state agency that initiated the project.

“They (Integral) view Sacramento as a great place to launch the Eviva line of apartments,” de la Vergne said.

The Eviva building is the latest mixed-use midrise project to go up as part of a plan by CADA to revitalize the 16th Street corridor of midtown. The former State Route 160 was lined with parking lots and rundown apartments before the city took over the roadway last decade and CADA started planning redevelopment on parcels of state-owned land.

Neighboring projects in which CADA has partnered with private developers include Legado de Ravel, a recently completed Spanish Colonial Revival-style apartment block at 16th and O streets, with 84 market-rate apartments and a branch of the University of Beer occupying one of the ground-floor retail spaces.

A block away at 16th and P streets, a six-story project called 16 Powerhouse is under construction and is expected to be finished this year. It will have 50 market-rate apartments with top-floor penthouses. Local purveyors Magpie Cafe and Insight Coffee Roasters have leased space on the ground floor.

CADA officials say they hope to land another project for the southeast corner of 16th and N, kitty corner from Eviva, but they haven’t formulated a plan or signed a developer.

Altogether, the new 16th Street projects will include 400 new housing units and a score of restaurants and retail shops, said CADA Executive Director Wendy Saunders. They were conceived before the economy crashed last decade but became feasible only after the housing market started recovering in the past few years.

“Everything went dark during the Great Recession and recently came to light,” Saunders said.

CADA is a public agency created in the late 1970s to redevelop state-owned properties in central Sacramento through public-private partnerships.

It has helped usher in the revival of the city’s R Street Corridor, a burgeoning arts district in what was once a gritty row of shuttered warehouses. A major project there, the Warehouse Artist Lofts, is transforming a turn-of-the-century warehouse and an adjoining new building into 116 housing units and 13,000 square feet of commercial space. Located between 11th and 12th streets, WAL is aimed at the region’s artists with a mix of market-rate and affordable rentals.

Elected officials at Thursday’s groundbreaking said the projects have helped transform midtown and downtown by bringing residents back to the city’s core, where they are close to work, restaurants and shopping.

CADA has been the leader in the effort to bring people back to the central city, which is “increasingly a place where people want to be,” said Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento.

Dickinson remembered the midtown of 20 years ago as a somewhat seedy place to drive through on the way to better neighborhoods. “It’s almost hard to remember what it was like in those days,” he said.