A Sacramento developer noted for risk-taking said last week she plans to build a high-rise apartment and hotel project a block from the Capitol with an unusual twist: One floor of the proposed 15-story structure at 10th and K streets would consist of dorm-like housing units.
The units could house 64 or more young Capitol staffers and student legislative fellowship program participants, groups that typically doesn’t make enough money to afford Sacramento’s soaring downtown rents.
Nikky Mohanna said her project, called 10K, also would add 186 regular apartments — separate from the co-living floor — to downtown’s growing housing stock, as well as a four-star hotel with about 200 rooms and ground-floor retail.
Mohanna filed an application for the the project with the city on Monday afternoon, and said she hopes to begin building sometime next year.
The site, on the intersection’s southwest corner, is at the center of the city’s evolving K Street corridor, four blocks from the Golden 1 Center arena to the west and three blocks from the convention center to the east.
The project would be the second unconventional downtown development from Mohanna, who is 28 years old and has emerged in the last year as the new face of her father’s longstanding Mohanna Development Co.
Mohanna currently is constructing an 11-story apartment building at 19th and J streets that boasts “micro” studio units aimed at millennials, and set to debut with rents at less than $1,000 per month.
Mohanna said the co-living portion of the 10th and K project is a work in progress, making it too early to say what rents will go for. The design likely will involve group apartments that can house two to four young workers in private rooms; they would share a kitchen and bathroom. The floor would have group lounge areas that can act as communal living rooms.
“We want to make it a fun environment that students and young professionals are going to appreciate,” she said. “We have a difficult situation in Sacramento where people can’t afford housing, and we need to come up with innovative ideas to solve that.”
Similar co-living projects have been launched in San Francisco, Seattle and New York. This would be the first in Sacramento.
The project, as a whole, offers “multifunctional urban density and inclusive growth we need in the core of our city,” she wrote in a press statement.
Kevin Liao, a 26-year-old capitol staffer in the Assembly Speaker’s office, said the concept could help fill a need that he faced and that many young Capitol workers deal with. Liao came to town a few years ago as a legislative fellow at a salary of less than $2,000 a month.
“We were scraping by” on rent payments, he said. “The experience is what we all want to take out of it. Anything to make that experience easier would be welcome. It is great to have (young colleagues) sharing experiences and socializing.”
But, Liao said, the true value of the project will be measured by rent levels. “Promoting these units as affordable for fellows and young staffers is one thing; for them to actually to make financial sense for a staffer making $30,000 or 40,000 a year is much more difficult to achieve.”
The 10K project would include a 200-room hotel with an entrance on the corner of 10th and K streets. Mohanna said she was encouraged by how well the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel has done a few blocks away at 5th and K streets since it opened last fall, and by analysis that indicates downtown Sacramento has much more demand for hotel rooms.
She said her company is in negotiations with several hotels. Construction on the project could start in mid to late 2019, with opening in mid 2021. The site currently houses an empty former bank building and two other empty structures.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who lauded Mohanna’s approach to the 19J project, said on Monday he’s pleased with this one as well.
“Once again, Nikky Mohanna has stepped up with an innovative design for housing that working people and even students can afford,” he said in an emailed statement. “She is demonstrating that if we’re willing to get creative and learn from what’s been done in other cities we can come up with solutions to address our affordable housing shortage.”
The Mohanna project is the latest of several in recent years on K Street, long one of the most under-used and blighted downtown streets.
The Sacramento Kings opened the arena at 5th and K streets two years ago, and are redeveloping a five-block area around it, including the partially opened Sawyer tower, which includes the Kimpton hotel and 45 high-end condominium units.
Another development group recently opened a 137-unit apartment building, called The Hardin, behind a row of commercial buildings on the 700 block of K Street. A Kings-led development group also plans apartments at the southeast corner of 8th and K streets.
An upscale 21-unit apartment complex, called The M.A.Y. Building, opened two years ago at 11th and K streets.
Mohanna’s ambitious project would have more housing units than any of those.
City Councilman Steve Hansen, an early proponent for housing downtown, lauded Mohanna’s willingness to be unconventional.
“She showed she has the tenacity to deliver a hard project like 19th and J. That gives us comfort that she can do this,” he said. “There aren’t many other developers who can lay down the gauntlet like this. If anyone can, she can.”