Bob Shallit

Apartment project underway after a long wait

An artist’s rendering of the Landing at College Square apartments now under construction in south Sacramento County.
An artist’s rendering of the Landing at College Square apartments now under construction in south Sacramento County. USA Properties Fund

Here’s something we haven’t seen much recently: the start of construction of a market-rate apartment complex outside the downtown core.

In fact, this week’s groundbreaking at the 270-unit Landing at College Square apartments on West Stockton Boulevard near the Calvine Road exit off Highway 99 is possibly the only such start in south Sacramento County since 2005, said Geoff Brown, president of USA Properties Fund, the project developer.

USA and its partners actually planned this project in 2006 and completed its first phase – a 102-unit affordable complex called Copperstone I – in 2009. But plans for the market-rate phase were put off as the economy tanked and financing in this region nearly evaporated.

“Because of the economy and the market, it didn’t make sense” to move ahead, Brown said. “Now we feel the timing is right.”

USA , which has kept busy building affordable projects subsidized by tax credits, anticipates having the 12-building project completed in 14 to 18 months. Units will range from one to three bedrooms and rent for between $1,225 and $1,600 a month.

“We’re of the opinion that we’ll be at a lot lower price point than (units) downtown,” Brown said, adding that access to downtown will be aided by the opening in September of the new Cosumnes River College light-rail station, within walking distance of the planned apartment complex.

Bill Ayres, an apartment specialist with the CBRE brokerage firm, said construction of large-scale market-rate projects came to a virtual halt here over the past decade.

But things are changing now, in the south county area at least, because of recent job growth in north Elk Grove, rising apartment rents regionwide, the pending opening of the light-rail station and the flow of capital from places like San Francisco and Los Angeles to secondary markets like Sacramento.

“Put all of that in a blender,” Ayres said, “and all of a sudden it starts to taste right.”

Double your fun

Look for dueling sports bars a block from the new Kings area.

Felipe Olvera, owner of the Alley Katz bar and grill in midtown, has just leased the ground floor at 403 J St. for a Japanese-style eatery and sports bar – right next door to the Triple Double basketball-themed bar set to open this summer.

“We’ll be a little different (than the next-door competition) because we’ll be serving teriyaki and sushi,” Olvera said Wednesday.

Besides, he said, there should be so much traffic generated by arena events that there will be business for everyone – a situation he likened to the atmosphere around AT&T Park in San Francisco on game days.

“There are so many people, you can’t get into a lot of places,” he said.

The 4,000-square-foot ground-floor space was formerly occupied by an Indian restaurant but has been vacant for about two years, said David Herrera, a Colliers International broker who represented the building owner, the Soo Yuen Benevolent Association of Sacramento.

“They’ve been waiting for the right tenant,” he said.

An art-sea building

An interesting two-fer is being offered by a midtown Sacramento apartment building owner: Buy the complex and get an original David Garibaldi mural in the bargain.

That’s because the art piece covers the entire front face of the three-story complex at 2523 N St.

Turns out that Garibaldi, the celebrated local painter known for his performance-art murals created in mere minutes at public events, was once a tenant at the 14-unit building.

“He and the owner worked out a deal. In exchange for some rent, he would paint (the front) of the building,” said Jim Walker of Cook Realty, who is marketing the 1960s-era property.

“It’s not like it’s a Picasso or anything,” Walker said of the painting, which covers the top two stories of the building and depicts an ocean floor with turtles, fish and plant life. “But it adds some value.

The asking price for the complex, mural included: $2,088,888.

“That’s a lot of ‘eights’ but it’s what the owner wanted,” Walker said.