Bob Shallit

Housing developments planned at Sacramento Inn site


The Sacramento Inn site next to Arden Fair mall will become apartments and for-sale housing under plans being finalized by owners of the 25-acre hotel property and the neighboring shopping center.

The 1950s-era hotel, plagued by crime and other problems in recent years, is likely to be demolished within the next 10 days with construction to follow on a variety of housing types, said Mark Friedman, whose family has half-ownership of the Arden Fair mall and Market Square.

He is joining in the redevelopment project with the Watkins family, which owns the Sacramento Inn, and the Marks family, the other owner of Arden Fair and Market Square.

“I think this is going to be helpful both for Arden Fair to have attractive housing adjacent to the property and desirable for those residents (in the new housing) to be close to the shopping and amenities” of the mall, Friedman said Friday. “It’s a good synergistic use.”

Friedman said he and his partners have tried to acquire the Sacramento Inn for the past 15 years.

“Quite honestly, it was to solve a problem as that property degraded,” he said. “The clientele there created some significant security issues for us at Arden Fair.”

The talks for the joint-venture development started about four months ago, Friedman said, following last year’s closure of the hotel due to recurring nuisance issues.

That step enabled the Watkins Co. to terminate a sale-leaseback arrangement it had made with operator Kumar Sharma, take back the property and begin working to find a better use for the hotel, he said.

Friedman said he and his partners plan to spend three to four months developing detailed plans for the site, which includes about 20 acres at the hotel and another 5 vacant acres fronting the Capital City Freeway.

“It’s a very big property so my guess is it will have a mix of different kinds of living environments – everything from market-rate apartments to for-sale townhomes,” he said.

Developing retail uses there is not an option due to deed restrictions imposed when Arden Fair and the Sacramento Inn were developed about 60 years ago.

The hotel, formerly known as the Clarion and the Red Lion Sacramento Inn, was built in 1954 and for years was one of the city’s upper-echelon lodging locations, with garden apartment-style units, big banquet rooms and some units built around an outdoor pool.

It fell on hard times over the past decade, hitting bottom last year when the city filed a public nuisance suit saying the hotel was rife with drugs and prostitution, leading to its closure.

The Watkins family was unable to make changes until taking back the property, Friedman said. “They had to work very hard to end the lease and clean up the mess,” he said.

Sue Watkins, a spokeswoman with the Watkins Co., was unavailable for comment.

The pending deal marks the third recent instance of major changes at once premier Sacramento hotels.

Earlier this year, investors announced plans to demolish downtown Sacramento’s Clarion Hotel and build senior housing, while the owners of the Red Lion Hotel Woodlake disclosed they are building a three-story residential care facility on a portion of their property.