Bob Shallit

More housing may come to Oak Park

A vacant lot in Oak Park once envisioned as the site of a Fresh & Easy grocery store could become new housing under plans being developed by two local investors.

Tom Cologna and David Macchiavelli acquired the 1.6-acre property at Broadway and Second Avenue last year and are looking at various options, including building more than 30 single-family homes.

“The economics point to a residential project there,” said Cologna, who is a principal in a Roseville investment company. But he said he and his partner have not ruled out other options.

Whatever the final decision, Cologna said, “we’re pretty confident that what we do will be a big boost to the neighborhood, economically and aesthetically.”

A final decision on the exact nature of the project will likely be made within two months, the partners said.

The lot they acquired was the site of a Made-Rite sausage plant decades ago. Fresh & Easy, a British-owned chain, bought the property about five years ago and intended to open a store there in 2012. But it canceled those plans when it withdrew from the Sacramento market.

The new venture by Cologna and Macchiavelli is part of a spate of investment that is bringing restaurants, retail shops, a brew pub, a nursery and new housing to the once-blighted community.

It’s the sort of market-based activity that city officials envisioned when they provided incentives for earlier development projects there, said Ron Vrilakas, developer of the mixed-used Broadway Triangle project that is a block southeast of the possible new housing site.

“That was the goal (of earlier city support) – to kick-start the area, and I think it has,” he said.

Vrilakas, a principal with Vrilakas Groen Architects, said he is continuing to invest in the neighborhood and is about to start building another six for-sale homes just east of the 12 he originally built as part of the Triangle project.

All but one of those first homes have been sold, he said, and the project’s 10 loft apartment units are leased.

Vrilakas said his new homes will come in three styles – bungalows, three-story live-work units and cottages – ranging from 900 to 1,600 square feet.

Back in the game

A decade after it was shuttered by fire, one of Sacramento’s legendary sports bars is back in business.

Joe Marty’s Bar & Grille, founded 77 years ago, reopened Friday on Broadway near Land Park Drive to serve a lunch crowd drawn mostly by word of mouth.

It will serve lunches through Sunday, then take a break before going to full-day and evening hours on Wednesday.

The day was a long time coming for owners Devon Atlee and Jack Morris, who came up with the idea of reopening the place three years ago while watching a Giants game with some Land Park friends.

Their goal: Re-create some of the ambiance of the original Joe Marty’s, a dive bar known for great food and an almost museum-like collection of baseball memorabilia, while making it more modern and family friendly.

Atlee said Friday that he thinks they struck the right balance.

“It’s not too elegant and not too down and dirty,” he said.

The new place has plenty of memorabilia, including a striking 1949 aerial photograph that shows the Broadway corridor with the Tower Theatre in the foreground and, a few blocks away, Edmonds Field, where the original bar’s founder and namesake played in the 1930s.

The ballpark, home to the Pacific Coast League Sacramento Solons, was torn down in 1964.

Pictures and jerseys of Sacramento baseball greats line the walls. Above the bar is a collection of vintage baseball gloves, from the 1920s to 1950s. And flanking the bar are two old-style open baseball lockers – one with a Solons jersey and a picture of Marty taken at Edmonds and the other honoring Dusty Baker, the Sacramento prep star who became a top major leaguer and is manager of the Washington Nationals.

Modern touches include eight big-screen TVs, designer lighting and a chic industrial vibe.

Atlee said the owners had a private party at the place Thursday night and heard plenty of encouragement from people who believe the partners have hit a home run in their first food service venture.

“People think we’re going to kill it,” he said.