The State Worker

Sacramento might get a 29-story tower for long-suffering California tax collectors

Falling glass at California tax board building nearly hits pedestrian

In 2012, security cameras capture a pedestrian walking near the California Board Of Equalization's troubled skyscraper in downtown Sacramento nearly hit by falling glass from a panel that crashed to the ground.
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In 2012, security cameras capture a pedestrian walking near the California Board Of Equalization's troubled skyscraper in downtown Sacramento nearly hit by falling glass from a panel that crashed to the ground.

A California state office tower so reviled it once had its own parody Twitter account is in line for a major renovation and the thousands of tax collectors who work there could move to a new site as soon as 2024.

California state government took a step toward getting workers out of the old Board of Equalization building at 450 N Street by signing a lease that will let it relocate the Office of State Publishing to West Sacramento.

Moving the publishing office lets the state clear a 17-acre site on Richards Boulevard that it intends to develop into a new complex for what is now the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, according to an office plan the state published in April.

The complex on Richards Boulevard would be anchored by a tower that could reach 29 stories, according to a notice the Department of General Services published in December. It also would include a parking garage and surface parking, retail and food service, and child care facilities.

“It is part of our 10-year sequencing plan, tenants being California Business, Consumer Services and Housing departments and California Department of Tax and Fee Administration,” Department of General Services spokeswoman Jennifer Iida said.

That plan shows the state intends to keep 450 N Street. If the project unfolds on the time line DGS proposes, state workers would move into the tower on Richards Boulevard in 2024.

A significant renovation of the N Street building would take place from 2004 to 2026. Afterward, a mix of departments that fall under the Government Operations Agency would move into 450 N Street. They include the State Personnel Board, Cal HR, Department of Technology and the Department of General Services.

The Legislature in 2016 created the Department of Tax and Fee Administration to replace almost all of the work collecting business and special use taxes that the Board of Equalization formerly handled.

Its headquarters at 450 N Street has a notorious reputation. It’s ringed by scaffolding because windows have fallen out of it. In fact, the building’s parody Twitter account in 2016 launched with a reference to shattered glass.

“CHILL OUT FOLKS! It’s not actually the sky that’s falling. Just a 600 pound window,” the post from @BOE_Building read.

Board of Equalization employees have sued the state in the past to compel repairs. For years, the state documented mold scares and leaks on a website disclosing problems with the structure.

“The building historically has been a disaster for employees and employees should have been moved out of the building just as the board members and the legal staff,” said Sacramento attorney Anthony Perez, who filed two of the lawsuit.

The Board of Equalization is overseen by four elected officials whose offices are not at the N Street tower.

The Office of State Publishing will soon relocate from its digs on Richards Boulevard in Sacramento to a privately owned property in West Sacramento.

The state has leased a 126,243-square-foot property at 885 Riverside Parkway owned by West Sacramento developer RAMCO Properties LP; the 20-year lease became effective Nov. 1, 2018 and will see the state pay $2.2 million over the total course of the lease.

Iida of the Department of General Services said the move “allows the vacated building, which strongly needs site remediation and which is far passed its useful life, to be demolished for infill development by the state.”

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RAMCO Properties is making modifications to the space in anticipation of a June move date, Iida said.

Construction on the Richards Boulevard location is expected to begin in 2020 and conclude in 2024.

The state budget that former Gov. Jerry Brown signed in June set the plans for a new office in motion. It included $30.4 million to begin designs for the printing site as well as two other Sacramento office buildings.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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