Bob Shallit

Midtown Eviva housing project set to get underway

A rendering of the Eviva Midtown building to be built at 16th and N streets in Sacramento.
A rendering of the Eviva Midtown building to be built at 16th and N streets in Sacramento. CADA

A one-of-a-kind midtown apartment complex is back on track, with a revised design and a new supplier of its prefab living units.

After months of delays, Zeta Communities, which manufactures modular units in North Highlands, has been replaced by Idaho-based Guerdon Enterprises as the main subcontractor for the Eviva Midtown apartments at 16th and N streets.

The change in subcontractors was “all about scheduling,” said William Fleissig, an executive with Atlanta-based Integral, the project’s lead developer. “We had a schedule to keep and that may have been a problem” for Zeta.

Howard Koenig, Zeta’s chief executive officer, said Wednesday there were no hard feelings over the change. “I think they changed the schedule a bit and it didn’t fit our production schedule, so from our standpoint it was appropriate,” he said.

The project, which was initiated by the Capital Area Development Authority, has been in the works for about a decade. Groundbreaking finally occurred last September, but work stalled after that.

Wendy Saunders, CADA’s executive director, said the delay had a “silver lining.” It allowed her team and Integral to review the project and tweak its design.

“It looked a bit institutional,” she said of the original plans. The new look includes “more relief and reveal. It’s definitely more residential” in appearance.

Those modifications, as well as more significant structural changes, resulted in higher costs, leading CADA executives to ask their board to accelerate the $3 million property tax rebate granted to the developers.

Fleissig said he expects to see foundation work begin this summer on the six-story building, which will have parking and about 5,000 square feet of retail space at ground level.

Work on the first of the 118 modular apartments will begin at Guerdon’s plant in May. Those units will be hauled here by truck, possibly stored at Sacramento’s downtown railyard and delivered to the construction site as needed. They’ll be “stacked” atop the building’s concrete podium, starting in late August or early September, Fleissig said.

“The stacking is very fast. They can do maybe four or five (units) a day once they get going,” he said.

Once in place, the prefab modules will be bolted together while plumbing and electrical connections are made. Finally, a prefab roof and the building’s stucco “skin” will be added. The projected completion date: spring 2016, with monthly rents ranging from about $1,700 for one-bedroom units to $2,200 for two-bedroom apartments.

Fleissig, whose company is planning Eviva-branded apartments in several other U.S. cities, marveled at the ability of Guerdon to mass-produce modular housing at its massive Boise, Idaho, plant and erect major projects in a matter of days.

“It’s like a choreographed ballet of 400 people running around and moving pieces,” he said, referring to a visit to the Guerdon factory. “It’s like a comedy with people ducking as things go over their heads.” (To see a video of a Guerdon hotel project in North Dakota, go to http://vimeo.com/108926001.)

Fleissig said he’s convinced modular construction could become the standard for apartment projects because it allows for much faster build-outs and more efficient use of materials.

Twenty years from now, he said, industry officials will probably look back and say, “My God, why didn’t we do this sooner?”

A concrete secret

Speaking of prefab construction, one of the region’s worst-kept secrets is that West Sacramento manufacturer Clark Pacific has a big contract to build components for Apple Inc.’s futuristic new campus in Cupertino.

Nobody is talking officially. Apple didn’t return calls. Clark Pacific spokesman Thomas Ketron said he can’t comment, citing “confidentiality agreements.”

But a recent New Yorker story let the cat out of the bag. The piece quoted Apple designer Jonathan Ive saying that the ring-shaped “spaceship” campus would use 4,400 precast concrete slabs constructed in Woodland – where Clark Pacific has a concrete slab factory.

“We’re assembling rather than building,” Ives said in the lengthy New Yorker piece. Apple’s glass-paneled 2.8 million-square-foot campus is due to be completed at the end of 2016.

Ketron confirmed that the Woodland plant has been growing rapidly and now has about 600 employees. His firm, which built prefab components for the San Francisco 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara, is doing work for the Sacramento Kings’ new downtown arena.

Call The Bee’s Bob Shallit, (916) 321-1017.

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