City Beat

New buildings to rise from ashes of Sacramento’s R Street ice plant

A conceptual rendering shows a view of the revised project for the Ice Blocks site, after the demolition of structures that were damaged by fire.
A conceptual rendering shows a view of the revised project for the Ice Blocks site, after the demolition of structures that were damaged by fire. Heller Pacific

A November fire destroyed a developer’s dream of converting a cavernous old warehouse into a hip new commercial center on Sacramento’s R Street corridor.

Now developer Mike Heller is moving forward with plans for two modern glass-and-metal structures on the ground formerly occupied by the Crystal Ice and Cold Storage building at 16th and R streets.

A three-alarm fire gutted the long-closed ice plant, and construction crews continue removing mountains of debris.

The new plans for 16th and R, dubbed Ice Rally Cap, are part of Heller’s broader outline to build housing, restaurants and office space along two blocks of R Street, a former warehouse zone rebranded as an arts district.

The design of Heller’s revised project would keep “with the historic industrial character of the R Street corridor,” according to a planning entitlement application released by the city on Monday. The building frame will consist of concrete and heavy timber.

Wendy Saunders, executive director of the Capitol Area Development Authority, said she was very pleased with the project’s new look,

“Of course, the fire was a huge loss,” she said, but added that the silver lining was a new design that makes better use of the property, enables the developer to include underground parking and poses fewer challenges in terms of ADA compliance.

One design element she particularly likes is the use of structural reinforcements built in “X” shapes on the buildings’ exterior.

“It’s very contemporary and very cool,” said Saunders, whose organization teamed with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments to fund street and sidewalk improvements along R Street, including the stretch in front of Ice Blocks.

John Dangberg, Sacramento’s assistant city manager, said he also liked the new look and said he was pleased Heller and his team “so quickly rebounded from the unfortunate fire that took away the historic elements” of the project.

The new design, he said, “respects” the look of the original building, which had raised loading docks along R Street, and will appeal to the professional services and tech companies that Heller has been targeting for the project.

“With its airy design, this is going to a very attractive addition to the area and very attractive for those seeking to bring companies to downtown,” he said.

An enormous fire early Saturday gutted a vacant warehouse at the corner of 16th and R streets in midtown Sacramento, badly damaging one of the buildings slated to be redeveloped into a two-block mix of housing, offices and restaurants.

Heller declined to comment Monday on the project’s new elements.

According to the planning entitlement application, the first floor of the new buildings will feature restaurants and shops. The second floor will be used for office and retail space, and the top two floors will have offices. Up to 100,631 square feet of offices, 17,000 square feet of restaurants and 46,966 square feet of retail are in the plans.

One anchor tenant will be Sacramento Republic FC, which plans to move its team office into one of the new buildings. The team also plans to set up a store and event space in the building, said Republic FC spokeswoman Erika Bjork. The team offices would remain at the Ice Blocks even if the franchise builds a new stadium in the downtown railyard.

Plans are progressing on two other phases of the Ice Blocks project. Developers are planning to build an apartment complex on the south side of R Street between 17th and 18th streets, and restaurants, shops and offices at the former Orchard Supply Hardware building on the north side of R Street.

One of the new tenants in the OSH buildings will be an expansion office for Roseville architecture firm Williams + Paddon, co-founder Jack Paddon said Monday.

The company will occupy the second-floor of a building along with Heller’s company, Heller Pacific, in an unusual arrangement that allows each to share certain areas.

“Why have a wall that divides two sets of bathrooms, break rooms and conference rooms,” Paddon said of the arrangement. “We can share in those common amenities.”

Paddon said his company has been eager to expand into the Sacramento downtown core, both to ease the commute for employees who live there and to be part of the redevelopment reshaping the area.

“Between Ice Blocks, the arena and the railyards, there’s a lot more happening in downtown than in any time in our 35-year history,” he said.