Bob Shallit

Investor hopes to bring new life to Sacramento apartment building

Lynard Khan standing in front of downtown Sacramento’s Golden Hotel.
Lynard Khan standing in front of downtown Sacramento’s Golden Hotel.

Lynard Khan grew up watching his immigrant father run several low-rent apartment buildings in downtown Sacramento and co-owned one himself a quarter-century ago.

Now Khan, a 64-year-old real estate investor, is getting back into the “family business.”

He recently acquired the historic Golden Hotel, one of the single-room-occupancy buildings his father managed and the same property he owned with his half-brother, Mohammad, for 15 years until 1990.

The century-old building at 1010 10th St. had fallen into disrepair. Crime and nuisance issues were mounting, And Mohammad, who had remained as owner, began looking for a buyer.

Khan stepped up.

“I just hated leaving it in almost-condemned condition given that my family operated it for so many years,” said Khan, a Sacramento native who worked for the state as a Medicaid administrator before becoming an investor in mostly suburban properties.

The deal with his half-brother involved a swap of properties that Khan valued at about $1 million.

Now the new owner is evaluating plans to upgrade the building, which has two retail spaces on the first floor – the Megami Bento-Ya restaurant and a recently shuttered novelty shop – and 24 small residential units on two upper levels.

But first he has to decide on his long-term goals for the property.

He said he sees the need for SROs and has plenty of respect for the people who live in them based on his own experiences.

Many of the residents were once successful people who simply got “hit by life,” he said. “They are as entitled to a decent place to live as anyone else.”

But Khan said he’s not sure an SRO makes sense anymore right in the heart of downtown redevelopment, next door to the upscale Grange Restaurant & Bar. And with just 24 rooms, the operation simply doesn’t “pencil” with current rents around $400 a month.

One option is to refurbish the entire building and make it a “completely different caliber” of SRO, Khan said. But he’s not sure there are enough people willing to pay the $500 to $700 a month he’d need to charge to justify that investment.

Another possibility is making it into a hostel or European-style pensione for visitors to the city seeking a night’s stay for under $100. Also under consideration: converting the building into office suites available for rent by the day, week or month.

Whatever the decision, Khan said he’s committed to helping out the people still living at his building by upgrading their current space or finding them new housing.

“They were the source of our livelihood,” Khan said of those who populated the family’s low-rent properties. “They’re part of my history and my fabric.”

A developer’s legacy

Many of the area’s top developers and business leaders gathered last week at Del Paso Country Club. The event: a “celebration of life” for Bill Cummings, who died in September at the age of 85.

Other local developers got more ink. But Cummings, a low-key guy, had as much impact as anyone. He moved here in the 1960s, started working as a broker, began amassing land and eventually had a hand in commercial and residential development projects throughout the region.

“He was a super nice guy and never looked down on anybody,” said Sammy Cemo, who co-sponsored last week’s event with megadeveloper Angelo K. Tsakopoulos.

Cummings did an “amazing” number of deals, Cemo said, but left an even bigger mark through the tens of millions in cash and land that he and his wife, Claudia, donated for hospitals, parks and the arts.

Tsakopoulos and Cummings were partners for 50 years, working together on projects that included Natoma Station, Empire Ranch and Roseville Auto Mall.

“He was a Marine to the day he died,” Tsakopoulos said of Cummings, who served as a paratrooper and jump instructor starting in the late 1940s. A Marine in what way? “It was his sense of honor, hard work and giving back,” the developer said.

Cemo, who started doing deals with Cummings in the 1960s, also said his friend was shaped by his Marine experiences. But he said Cummings almost never talked about his military service.

Until, that is, a few months ago when the two met for lunch and Cummings recalled some of those memories and perhaps revealed a bit of his risk-taking spirit.

As Cemo tells it, more than once that day, Cummings made a point of saying: “I really loved jumping out of airplanes.”