Bob Shallit

Restaurateur Paragary plans boutique hotel in midtown Sacramento

Artist’s rendering of 107-room boutique hotel planned at the corner of 28th Street and Capitol Avenue in midtown Sacramento.
Artist’s rendering of 107-room boutique hotel planned at the corner of 28th Street and Capitol Avenue in midtown Sacramento.

Sacramento restaurateur Randy Paragary is planning to build the midtown area’s first upscale hotel, a 107-room brick-and-concrete midrise aimed at creating a vibrant commercial hub near Sutter Medical Center and the future home of the B Street Theatre.

Construction of the six-story boutique hotel could start in about a year with an opening likely in early 2018, Paragary said this week.

“It’s going to be as nice or nicer than anything in town,” he said of the hotel to be built at the current site of his Cafe Bernardo location at 28th Street and Capitol Avenue.

Two buildings – the one housing Bernardo and an adjacent structure that formerly was a Capitol Physical Therapy office – will be razed to clear space for the $20 million hotel project, which will feature a new Cafe Bernardo and Monkey Bar on the ground floor.

An operator for the hotel will likely be selected within 30 days, Paragary said. Among those in the running are Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood and IHG, the parent company of Kimpton, he said.

Paragary, whose company owns nine restaurants in the Sacramento region, said he has long been interested in building a hotel in the area and began actively pursuing the idea a year ago as Sutter Health neared completion of its new medical complex.

“That’s what made it viable,” he said of Sutter’s expanded midtown presence. People visiting patients at the hospital are expected to make up a significant percentage of the hotel’s guests.

“It’s not cyclical,” Paragary said of hospital-related business. “There’s no season for getting sick or having surgeries or having babies. We feel a lot of the traffic will be driven by Sutter.”

Sutter’s CEO, Carrie Owen Plietz, agreed that the hotel is likely to get a lot of business from hospital visitors.

“It will be a convenient location for families that need a room for a short stay that is close to their loved ones in the hospital,” she said in a prepared statement.

But the hotel’s planners also are hoping to draw plenty of nonmedical visitors, including people attending events at the new B Street Theatre building, which is set to get under construction early next year directly west of the hotel site.

Buck Busfield, the theater company’s producing artistic director, said Tuesday that the hotel will serve theater-goers who increasingly are looking to “make an event” of a night out by going to a play, getting drinks and dinner in the neighborhood and then staying at nearby lodging.

He also suggested that the hotel’s presence would help B Street lease out its two stages to business groups and other out-of-town visitors during times when the spaces are not needed by the theater company.

Ron Vrilakas, the Paragary project’s architect, said he thinks the hotel, along with the new B Street operation and surrounding restaurants, could transform what has been a fairly sleepy part of midtown.

“It will go from a fairly quiet corridor into one of the liveliest blocks east of the Capitol,” he said.

It also will help meet a “critical” need for upscale lodging in the area, said Emily Baime Michaels, executive director of the Midtown Business Association.

“We have some great B&Bs but no traditional hotels,” she said. As a result, the district misses out on event and conference business, she said, “and we also lose an opportunity (to provide overnight accommodations) for tourists who come to midtown for arts and culture.”

Vrilakas said the project design calls for a mix of building materials, including brick, smooth plaster and concrete, with plenty of relief features to provide visual interest. The lobby will feature high ceilings, a fireplace, comfortable seating along with the “finishes, texture, lighting and vibe of a big-city boutique hotel,” Paragary said.

Guest rooms, to be priced around $150 per night, will be larger than most offered at downtown hotels, and all will feature oversized “warehouse-scale windows.”

Plans also call for an open-air cocktail bar in a cutout section of the sixth floor, and Vrilakas said he’s aiming to create a “pedestrian-oriented experience” on all sides of the building. That includes creating a 20-foot-wide alley, similar to Belden Place in San Francisco, separating the building’s western edge and the new B Street building.

Of the entire project, the architect said, “This will rival the Citizen as the most appealing boutique hotel in the city,” referring to the 198-room high-rise on J Street.

Building a hotel at 28th and Capitol has been one of Paragary’s goals for almost 15 years, he said.

His first plan was to convert the second floor of the Cafe Bernardo building into an 11-room hotel with a small lobby at street level. But he said he discarded those plans because they “didn’t pencil out.”

About five years ago, he made an offer to buy the Capitol Physical Therapy building, just south of his Bernardo property, with the idea of putting a hotel there. But he was unable to strike a deal with the owner.

Then, last year, he was able to acquire that building for $735,000. He said his first thought was to open a brew pub at that location.

Talks with B Street managers, however, rekindled his old idea for a hotel.

Paragary said he had to clear two big hurdles before deciding to move ahead with the hotel project. The first was seeing if Sutter Medical was willing to reserve some parking for hotel guests at its 1,100-space garage, which takes up the southern half of the block.

Sutter was supportive, he said, though exact details of that arrangement are still being finalized.

Another challenge was making sure there would be no city opposition to tearing down the nearly 90-year-old building now housing Cafe Bernardo. Paragary said he hired consultants who concluded that a demolition proposal would likely be approved.

Roberta Deering, Sacramento’s preservation director, said the building is not currently considered a historical resource by the state or the city. But she said its eligibility for that sort of designation will be part of the Planning Commission’s review of the project entitlement application.

That application is expected to be submitted to the city on Wednesday.