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Sacramento’s Ice Blocks development gets boost with new investor

Local developer Mike Heller at the old Crystal Ice buildings along R Street in Sacramento on Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Local developer Mike Heller at the old Crystal Ice buildings along R Street in Sacramento on Thursday, October 23, 2014. rbenton@sacbee.com

Investor Kevin Nagle has become a partner in the huge Ice Blocks development project in midtown Sacramento, providing a key source of financial strength as well as a link to the Republic FC soccer team, officials said Tuesday.

Nagle, managing partner of the soccer team, will be joining developers Mike Heller and Mark Friedman as an investor in the three-block mixed-use project that’s likely to be under construction later this year on R Street between 16th and 18th streets.

Under the deal, the soccer team will take more than 10,000 square feet at Ice Blocks for corporate offices and a retail store, Nagle said.

Nagle said he was invited to join the project by Friedman, who is a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings along with Nagle.

“It made all the sense in the world,” Nagle said of becoming a partner in Ice Blocks. “I think it will be great for Sacramento, great for the millennials and for the professionals who are moving back to (downtown) Sacramento, and I want to be a part of that.”

He said the decision to place Republic FC’s headquarters at Ice Blocks could be temporary. The team may eventually move those offices to a new stadium to be built in the downtown railyard if Republic officials are successful in efforts to obtain an expansion slot in Major League Soccer, he said.

The team’s current offices and store are on 17th Street near Broadway. The new space will have “high visibility” and be part of the process of taking the Republic “from startup to something more professional and sophisticated,” Nagle said.

Friedman said he was eager to add Nagle to the project, given his success as founder of a $5 billion-a-year pharmacy benefits company that was sold earlier this year and his half-ownership of the El Dorado Hills Town Center as well as his roles with the Republic and Kings.

“Having Kevin on our team is terrific,” Friedman said. “This is the kind of collaboration among business leaders that speaks really well about the capacity of local people to do big projects.”

The involvement of Nagle and the Republic also will help Ice Blocks meet its goal of connecting with younger renters, shoppers and entrepreneurs, said Friedman, head of Fulcrum Property.

The Republic’s leaders “really have their finger on the millennial audience, and that’s the audience that Ice Blocks is seeking to serve,” he said. “This is an affiliation of two forward-thinking local brands that have particular appeal among millennials.”

The project eventually will include about 150 residential units, about 60,000 square feet of retail space and more than 50,000 square feet of offices in three groups of buildings. The focal point is the former Crystal Ice and Cold Storage building at 16th and R streets.

Heller, who is the Ice Blocks managing partner, said the project is “coming together in a magical way.”

“The financial side is looking pretty good with Kevin and Mark involved,” and city building permits are likely to be issued by mid-October, allowing for a groundbreaking soon after that.

He said the project’s first phase is due to be completed by June of next year, with the second and third stages likely to be finished before the end of 2016.

Heller called the Republic FC lease arrangement “spot on demographically” in terms of the project’s targeted tenant mix.

“We’re going to infuse the building with young, creative dreamers,” he said.

The Republic deal brings commercial “pre-leasing” commitments to about 40,000 square feet, Heller said. “That’s pretty good,” he said, “for a project that hasn’t yet broken ground.”

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