City Beat

Midtown Sacramento housing developments up for review this week

A rendering shows an eight-story mixed-use project planned for 1430 Q Street in Sacramento.
A rendering shows an eight-story mixed-use project planned for 1430 Q Street in Sacramento.

Several major development projects are planned for midtown Sacramento and its surrounding neighborhoods. Now city leaders want to see those plans turned into reality.

The city’s planning commission is scheduled to tackle three more significant projects on Thursday, including a vote on whether to approve an eight-story condo building at 15th and Q streets that would tower over the emerging Fremont Park area. 15Q would be the work of D&S Development, the same firm that constructed the 16 Powerhouse midrise condo complex across the park.

Also on the planning commission’s agenda is a vote on approving 32 town homes along 20th Street between P and R streets. Those townhouses would fill two empty blocks adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks that run through midtown.

The commission is also scheduled to review plans for a 253-unit apartment building dubbed The Press to be constructed at 21st and Q streets, the current site of The Sacramento Bee’s parking garage. No vote on that plan is scheduled this week.

Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents the central city, said the proposed development activity has created a “tremendous opportunity.”

“Overall, Sacramento’s downtown core is resurgent, but we also have to make sure things that have been proposed get done,” he said. “We have the capacity to absorb them. The question is: Will developers get them done?”

For now, developers appear to be racing to build homes, shops and restaurants in the central city. Hansen, Mayor Kevin Johnson and other city leaders have touted an initiative to attract 10,000 units of housing to the central city over the next decade.

Incremental steps are being taken to reach that goal, including the planning commission’s May 12 approval of midtown’s tallest residential structure.

Yamanee, a 178-foot tower at 25th and J streets, received mixed reviews from neighborhood activists and preservationists. Some have lauded it as an architectural jewel that will attract new residents to the midtown grid, while others argued that a building of its height belongs downtown. The plans call for the building to include 134 condos with large patios and fireplaces that face inside and out, much like the lanais found in Hawaiian homes. The rooftop, 13 stories above J Street, would include a gym, sun deck and lap pool.

“We must look inward and upward when contemplating new development in Sacramento,” Julie Murphy, co-chair of the nearby Marshall School/New Era Park Neighborhood Association, told the planning commission.

However, central city historian William Burg has appealed the planning commission’s approval, calling for a full City Council review of the project in the coming weeks. In approving the tower, planning commissioners are allowing the developer to exceed the neighborhood’s height limit by more than 100 feet. Burg said he is concerned the approval opens the door to developers seeking to build tall buildings in other neighborhoods, including East Sacramento, Land Park and Curtis Park.

“The ‘significant community benefit’ justification for Yamanee is based on design aesthetics, housing, environmentally friendly features and transit orientation, but a project that fits within the existing height limit could provide all of the purported benefits to a similar degree,” he said.

Other significant projects are in various planning stages but have not yet been built.

Earlier this month, developer Mike Heller submitted his revised plans for the Crystal Ice and Cold Storage building at 16th and R streets after a fire destroyed the warehouse last year. The plans are part of a larger proposal to build housing, restaurants and offices – including the headquarters for Sacramento Republic FC – along two blocks of R Street.

The City Council last year approved a new Whole Foods Market for L Street, between 20th and 21st streets, that would include 141 apartments above the store. That development also includes the construction of a new parking garage on 21st Street. Construction has not begun on either project.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis