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Developer files plans to fill CalPERS ‘hole in the ground.’ What’s next?

Video: Developer unveils plans for “Hole in the Ground”

The owners of downtown Sacramento’s infamous “hole in the ground," an empty lot on Capitol Mall and 3rd Street, say they plan to build a 30-story tower on the long-vacant site with a mix of offices, retail and 100 apartments. Nearly a decade afte
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The owners of downtown Sacramento’s infamous “hole in the ground," an empty lot on Capitol Mall and 3rd Street, say they plan to build a 30-story tower on the long-vacant site with a mix of offices, retail and 100 apartments. Nearly a decade afte

A plan to build the tallest building in Sacramento took a step forward Thursday when developers submitted an application to the city, but the project still has a long way to go before construction can begin at the long-vacant “hole in the ground” site.

Los Angeles-based CIM plans to build a 557-foot tall office tower near the Tower Bridge at 301 Capitol Mall, but they still need city and environmental approvals and a private anchor tenant before breaking ground.

The entitlement application for the 33-story “Tower 301” filed with the city includes about 790,000 square feet of office space; 12,400 square feet of retail; 6,400 square feet for restaurants, 100 apartments and an elevated fourth-floor public park. It would stand about 120 feet taller than the nearby Wells Fargo Center.

The city will soon share the application with City Council members and community organizations such as the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, the Midtown Association and nearby neighborhood associations, said Ryan DeVore, the city’s community development director.

After the city spends about four to six weeks getting input from those groups and others, staff will review the application for up to another eight months, then send it to the city’s 13-member Planning and Design Commission, DeVore said. It might also require City Council approval, DeVore said. Planning and Design Commission meetings are open to the public, as well as council meetings. After receiving entitlement approval, the project would then require other city approvals, such as construction and building code compliance, DeVore said.

Since the project is in the Capitol Mall area, state officials will also likely need to approve it said Karlo Felix, senior planner.

The project has secured funding from CalPERS, which in July voted to back it with $550 million if the developer hits certain milestones that demonstrate the project’s viability.

CIM and CalPERS would own the building and generate revenue from leases. It’s unclear whether CIM will seek for any city money for the project.

“As with any major development we are exploring all financing options and incentives available as we do in projects across the U.S.” a CIM spokesman wrote in an email to the Bee.

The site has been a troublesome one for the city. More than a decade ago, CalPERS and a developer started construction on a pair of 53-story condo towers on the site, but the recession halted that project. It’s been vacant ever since.

CIM co-founder and principal Avi Shamesh contends the timing’s right for Sacramento. “We have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said.

The city’s DeVore said he was “thrilled” there was finally an application on file for the site.

“We’re super excited about the project, let me be clear on that,” DeVore said. “It’s a huge project for Sacramento.”

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