Business & Real Estate

High-rise planned near Sacramento arena

The proposed Vanir office tower in downtown Sacramento is being designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners of New York, the international architecture firm founded by I.M.Pei, architect of the pyramid Louvre Museum Pyramid.
The proposed Vanir office tower in downtown Sacramento is being designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners of New York, the international architecture firm founded by I.M.Pei, architect of the pyramid Louvre Museum Pyramid. Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

A major California builder with deep Sacramento ties has submitted plans to the city for a 26-story headquarters and office tower on J Street across the street from the planned downtown arena and hotel.

Vanir Development Co. Inc. is proposing what it says will be “the most distinguished building in downtown Sacramento,” a high-rise that would serve as the company’s headquarters and also house the regional headquarters for a major commercial bank. Tenants also would include a restaurant, cafe and health club, the company said in a post on its website.

Company officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening, but city officials said the firm submitted a project application last week to build the structure at 601 J St., the site of a former bank building.

The project, if built, is expected to be the largest corporate headquarters in downtown.

Vanir has offices in North Natomas and in San Bernardino. Its board chairwoman, Dorene Dominguez, maintains a home here and is a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings basketball team.

The company, founded by Dominguez’s late father, H. Frank Dominguez, lists government buildings, office towers, grocery stores, and shopping centers among its California projects. It is part of the Vanir Group of Companies, whose website says it has 300 employees in 15 offices and has completed $10 billion in projects.

The disclosure of Vanir’s plans comes three weeks after the Sacramento Kings submitted plans to the city for a 16-story hotel and condo tower facing J Street, one block from the Vanir development. That tower is part of the Kings’ plan to eventually add more than 1 million square feet of office space, housing, shops and restaurants to the area surrounding the sports arena under construction at Downtown Plaza.

Mayor Kevin Johnson lauded the news in an email to The Sacramento Bee.

“Dorene Dominguez and Vanir Development are champions for our community, and to have a prominent local company investing downtown is great news,” he wrote. “This is the type of economic development we expected by building a new entertainment and sports center downtown.”

Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen said the office tower would be a statement project.

“This is pretty exciting,” Hansen said. “This would be a huge investment in downtown. For a company like this, it will send a positive message about downtown to the rest of the region and beyond.”

But Hansen and other city officials warned that the Vanir proposal is at the early stages of what would be a long process. Many major development proposals in downtown have collapsed in recent years.

Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said he is encouraged by the fact that Vanir is indicating it has a major tenant, which it describes as a West Coast bank.

Dangberg called the plan an example of the kind of economic development the city is hoping will emerge as a result of its $255 million investment with the Kings in the $477 million downtown arena, which is under construction and is expected to be opened in the fall of 2016.

“I think this is evidence of the catalytic effect of a major investment downtown that provides active entertainment uses,” Dangberg said.

The company has published a brief description on its website of the planned J Street office, calling it a class A office building that will include sustainable architecture approaches. The building will hold 372,000 square feet of office space.

“Timeless describes the design's dynamic, fresh look based on traditional architectural and corporate values,” the company said. “The main lobby will be grand in every aspect; large floor area, three-story height, and unique artwork.”

The proposed building, at 26 stories, would be among the tallest in Sacramento, and would stand near other significant projects planned for downtown.

On Monday, developers said they were planning to transform the vacant Marshall Hotel on Seventh Street into a 10-story Hyatt Place hotel with apartments on the top floors. And Bay Area sporting goods retailer Sports Basement has an agreement in place to open a new shop in a 70,000-square-foot building near the corner of Eighth and I streets.

“Areas within close proximity of the arena are going to be in play for a while,” said Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership.

Councilman Hansen warned, however, that the project does not indicate downtown Sacramento has pulled out of the recent recession-induced doldrums.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “The economy is not recovered. We are in a fragile recovery. We have to be working hard.”

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. The Bee’s Dale Kasler contributed to this report.

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