Bob Shallit

Housing to rise above historic R Street building

Housing is slated to go above this 1920s-era building at 11th and R streets.
Housing is slated to go above this 1920s-era building at 11th and R streets.

More housing is coming to Sacramento’s booming R Street corridor with plans underway to convert a historic red-brick building into a retail complex topped with 26 upscale apartment units.

Representatives for Cordano Co., which acquired the building at 11th and R streets in late 2014, declined to comment on the project.

But others say the family-owned development company is close to submitting plans for a project that would involve constructing a two-story steel and wood addition above the existing structure for studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

The 15,000-square-foot ground floor of the building would be converted to retail uses anchored by a new restaurant concept from the de Vere White family, owners of de Vere’s Irish Pub at 1521 L St.

Simon de Vere White, a co-owner of that business, said the 5,500-square-foot restaurant will “incorporate our family’s heritage,” as does the pub, but will be “more food focused.”

He said his family eyed the corner-facing 11th and R building as a potential pub site before opening on L Street and “couldn’t say no” when the Cordano execs pitched them on the R Street location last year.

“That’s such a beautiful building,” said de Vere White. “If you talk to anybody about ‘that brick building on R Street’ they automatically know what building you’re talking about.”

The Cordanos’ original plan didn’t include housing, De Vere White said. “But all of a sudden we saw this new rendering” with housing above.

“We’re warmed up to it,” he said of the mixed-use plan, adding that project architect Ron Vrilakas does a “a fantastic job of blending old with new.”

Todd Leon, a development manager with the Capitol Area Development Authority, said he’s happy to see more residential construction on a corridor that has had only a few recent new housing projects, including the CADA-backed Warehouse Artist Lofts one block east of the Cordano project.

“We’re excited and pleasantly surprised to see housing included (in the new project), especially from a developer that doesn’t do housing,” he said.

Cordano Co. is mostly known for retail developments, including the Firestone Building on L Street, which includes the original de Vere’s pub, and the retail and restaurant complex at 15th and R streets anchored by the Iron Horse Tavern.

The now-vacant building at 11th and R is actually made up of several connected structures, some dating to 1920. It originally housed a marble and granite operation. Until last year, part of it was leased by the New Helvetia Theatre.

Mana from Tahiti

Sacramento’s MeringCarson ad agency has just rolled out a global tourism campaign for Tahiti that focuses as much on the culture as the natural beauty of the South Pacific islands destination.

The agency, a tourism promotion specialist, won the very competitive Tahiti contract last year and started looking for ways to go beyond other firms’ campaigns that emphasized the seclusion and privacy offered at the 118 islands halfway between California and Australia.

“From a competitive standpoint, other destinations deliver on that as well,” company president Lori Bartle said. So she and her colleagues looked into Tahitian culture and discovered “mana,” the ancient belief in a life force that connects all living things.

“People there talk about ‘feeling the mana,’ ” said partner Greg Carson. “They think of it as a universal force with its epicenter in Tahiti.”

A key part of the campaign is a lush video, called “Embraced by Mana,” that showcases the islands’ diversity. Check it out at

The video, along with print and digital ads, debuted in the past couple of weeks in the U.S. and Canada and soon will go international in 10 languages.

“It’s really a big deal,” Carson said of the campaign’s scope. “It’s truly global and is being launched right out of our offices in Sacramento and San Diego.”