The State Worker

Restaurants and lofts have enlivened this corridor. A state parking garage may come next.

A car drives into the state of California parking garage at 10th and O streets. Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed building an 800-space parking garage on R Street between Eighth and Ninth streets.
A car drives into the state of California parking garage at 10th and O streets. Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed building an 800-space parking garage on R Street between Eighth and Ninth streets. Sacramento Bee file

The governor’s revised budget contains a $30 million gift to downtown workers – a new parking garage.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday proposed funds to construct the first new state garage in years downtown, an 800-space structure on the north side of R Street between Eighth and Ninth streets with ground-floor retail and food spaces. A state warehouse currently sits at that site.

The new garage will compensate for the loss of 100-plus surface parking spots nearby when the state builds a planned office building at Eighth and P streets, plus it will add a substantial amount of new parking for workers on the waiting list.

Environmental studies are underway for the office planned on P Street that will house workers currently at the California Natural Resources Agency headquarters.

“(Department of General Services) has been talking a long time about new parking,” department spokesman Brian Ferguson said. “There is a real need for it.”

DGS officials say they have a 2,500-person wait list for state garages downtown. The new garage, which will put a dent in that list, could be under construction next summer and take two years to build.

The state plans to team with the Capitol Area Development Authority to oversee design and construction of the mixed-use facility, which would be about seven stories tall.

“We hope this project will be a positive addition to the neighborhood that will help further facilitate the mini-renaissance taking place on R Street,” Ferguson said in an email to The Bee.

Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen, however, expressed mixed feelings about the proposal. He called the garage massive and said it means the state is “doubling down on car culture downtown” when the city is trying to make downtown less car-centric.

Hansen, who represents the central city, said Sacramento likely will push the state to invest in more worker housing downtown, and will want the state to design the garage so that it can be converted to other uses if that much parking is no longer needed in the future.

Hansen said the city also will press the state to make sure the streets around the garage are pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

Wendy Saunders, head of the Capitol Area Development Authority, said her agency will focus on industrial-style design and streetscape features to enhance R Street, a once-tired warehouse area that has been coming to life with bars, restaurants, apartments and condominiums.

DGS officials said the state has agreed to make the garage available for non-state worker use nights and weekends.

“We care about the design and planning of the R Street corridor, and this (partnership with the state) gives us the opportunity to make sure the project is in keeping with the industrial design on the corridor,” Saunders said. “It opens the next block westward. We’d really like to see more action on that end of R Street.”

The garage will be across the street from a brick warehouse that is planned to be remodeled as an organic grocery store, Market 5-ONE-5, Saunders said.

The site sits one block west of the Fox & Goose Public House and two blocks west of the Warehouse Artist Lofts.

Tony Bizjak: 916-321-1059, @TonyBizjak

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