Bob Shallit

Retail, parking tower planned for former Sacramento Greyhound bus depot

Rendering shows plans for new retail complex and garage at former Greyhound bus station at 701 L St. in downtown Sacramento.
Rendering shows plans for new retail complex and garage at former Greyhound bus station at 701 L St. in downtown Sacramento. HRGA Architecture

Downtown Sacramento’s former Greyhound bus station will become a multitenant retail center and five-story garage under plans to be filed with the city next month.

Building owner Danny Benvenuti said he has been researching options for the landmark building at Seventh and L streets since Greyhound relocated its bus operations to Richards Boulevard in 2011.

He said he considered office and housing uses but opted instead for a plan that will convert the nearly 14,000-square-foot building into a location for numerous restaurants and possibly other retail users. The 308-space garage will be built behind that structure in the “bus barn” area where Greyhound customers formerly boarded coaches.

“We looked at it and this really makes the most sense,” Benvenuti said, noting that parking and retail both will be in high demand when the Golden 1 Center opens one block away at the end of this year.

Benvenuti said he intends to submit plans for the $30 million project to the city next month, break ground in the summer and be open for business by the middle of next year.

The project designer, Rick Harper of HR Group Architects, said he intends to retain the historic art deco look of the old bus station but add windows, use LED lighting along the building’s canopies and install vertical “blade” signs to serve as advertising for tenants.

The garage’s colors and architectural lines will complement those at the retail building but will use “uniquely different materials,” he said.

“We’re trying to bring back what people would remember as the original depot building with its terra cotta finishes and dark marble base and replace the original bus barn with a new and modern parking garage that will be lit up and accessible to the public,” he said.

We want to make this a lively corner again for the people of Sacramento.

Rick Harper, principal, HRGA

The project leasing agent, Ariel Fox of Retail West, said she has not yet signed up any tenants but said the project “is getting tremendous attention from some big brand names.”

She said tenants – mostly restaurant operators – are drawn to the project because of its location near the arena, the “cool iconic” nature of the building with its 25-foot-high ceilings and the adjacent garage.

“One of the most important things restaurants care about is easy access and parking,” she said. “Having a site in an urban environment with a five-story garage is extremely attractive.”

The project site opened as a Greyhound station in 1937 and was long a thriving part of the downtown core before falling on hard times and becoming a magnet for loitering and crime.

Benvenuti purchased the property in 1987 with the goal of building a 30-story office tower there. But those plans were delayed when the bus company opted to stay downtown.

In 2004, he looked again into building a high-rise office and condo project before agreeing to another Greyhound lease extension.

The developer said he’s happy with the more modest current project, which is tentatively being called 701 Metro.

“I just don’t have the appetite for a $150 million project on that property anymore,” he said. “That’s too big of an undertaking.”

Blue chip tenant draws investor

The local office of the IRS has a new landlord.

In a deal that closed quietly last month, an Ohio investment company acquired the four-story building at 4130 Watt Ave. where the IRS has 260 employees.

Boyd Watterson Asset Management of Cleveland paid $32.9 million to Denver-based Amstar Group for the 131,000-square-foot building.

Travis Trautvetter, an executive director with Cushman Wakefield in San Diego, said there was nationwide interest in the property given the existing long-term lease with the IRS for most of the building.

“That’s a mission critical office for them – one of their more important facilities,” said Trautvetter, whose team represented both parties in the transaction.