The State Worker

Downtown Sacramento’s ‘hole in the ground’ has a new developer hired by CalPERS

A Houston-based firm is taking over development of a long-vacant site on Capitol Mall in Sacramento, CalPERS announced Tuesday.

Hines Real Estate, an international firm that is building health insurer Centene’s new campus in Natomas, will take over the 301 Capitol Mall project, according to a CalPERS news release.

“Hines is a longtime CalPERS partner and has a strong history of successfully developing real estate projects in Sacramento and the Bay Area,” Marcie Frost, CalPERS chief executive officer, said in the release. “We look forward to working with them on 301 Capitol Mall. We’re committed to fulfilling our fiduciary duty to find the best investment path forward for this very important project.”

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System confirmed last week that it was cutting ties with the site’s last developer, Los Angeles-based CIM Group.

CIM’s plans for a 33-story, $550-million tower, which would have been Sacramento’s tallest, were the latest in a series of ambitious proposals that were never realized for the site. A previous developer planned to build two 53-story condos there before CalPERS halted construction in 2007.

The 301 Capitol Mall site, known locally as the “hole in the ground,” has been vacant since.

CalPERS formed an LLC with CIM in 2017 to manage the project. At the time, the two organizations committed to starting construction only if they secured a marquee tenant to anchor the building.

CalPERS did not provide details of whether Hines would adopt some or all of CIM’s plans or whether it would start over with a new proposal.

A Hines spokesman had no comment on the project when reached Tuesday.

The privately held company has $124 billion worth of assets under management and 148 projects underway around the world, according to its website. The company has worked with CalPERS on a checklist to evaluate sustainability of acquisitions, according to the site.

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Wes Venteicher anchors The Bee’s popular State Worker coverage in the newspaper’s Capitol Bureau. He covers taxes, pensions, unions, state spending and California government. A Montana native, he reported on health care and politics in Chicago and Pittsburgh before joining The Bee in 2018.