Downtown Sacramento

The Sacramento and American rivers converge near downtown Sacramento, providing a scenic setting for the urban capital core area.
The Sacramento and American rivers converge near downtown Sacramento, providing a scenic setting for the urban capital core area. Dave Henry

What brings people to downtown Sacramento?

Many suburbanites become downtown dwellers because they like the area’s proximity to their jobs. They’ve given up commuting in favor of living near the state, federal or city offices where they work.

Another bonus of living downtown is being within walking distance of restaurants, nightclubs, theaters, shops and historical attractions.

Realtor Michael Onstead of Coldwell Banker — both an advocate and a resident of downtown — calls moving to the city core a “lifestyle adjustment” that combines several benefits.

“Downtown is walkable and close to everything — restaurants, cultural activities and farmers markets,” he said. “Most of the properties that are new are lifestyle choices. They’re low-maintenance. It’s lock-and-go so (people) can travel. The best thing about living downtown is the ability to park my car and not get in it for weeks at a time. It’s a real feeling of freedom. I don’t have to drive.”

The area, he said, also offers a great variety of stores, including Safeway, Pak N Save, the Sacramento Natural Food Co-op and all kinds of specialty shops.

Realtor Sue Olson of Coldwell Banker said many people choose to live downtown because of the activities.

“The night life, the restaurants, the theater district and the vibrancy of the Second Saturday art walks bring people downtown,” Olson said. “People are looking for social activities, and it’s amazing how the area has grown. Although there are all different age groups coming downtown, there’s a younger set of people today looking for activities. The real draw is that it’s a more vibrant community.”

Older people are drawn to the area as well.

“Retirees also want to be in the setting,” she said. “They want to be able to walk to the grocery store, theater and the downtown area. There are a lot of things people can do on foot. It’s kind of a San Francisco lifestyle with trees — and no hills.”

Real estate options in the downtown area range from contemporary lofts to stately Victorians along Sacramento’s cool, tree-lined streets.

“The area is pretty eclectic,” Olson said. “There’s a range of buyers — young professionals, professional couples whose kids are out of the house, and retirees. We have quite a mix.”

Many residents have moved from other areas of the Sacramento region, Onstead said.

“People are relocating and downsizing from El Dorado Hills, Placerville, Davis and Stockton,” he said. “We even have people from downtown who want to get into newer properties and out of Victorians that require a lot of upkeep.”

Downtown residences include the Penthouses at Capitol Park, which is on the top three floors of the 15-story Marriott Residence Inn at 15th and L streets. Of the 30 original units, 18 are for sale, Onstead said. Studios and two-bedroom, two-bathroom units range from 700 square feet to 1,400 square feet.

On the 15th floor, two 1,300-square foot condominiums with two bedrooms and two bathrooms are for sale at $549,000 and $589,000. Penthouse residents can use the hotel’s heated swimming pool and spa, 24-hour fitness center, restaurant and lounge. For a fee, they also can enjoy valet parking, concierge, laundry, dry cleaning and room services.

Close by is Tapestri Square at 21st and T streets, which has 58 brownstone-style townhouses. Twenty-five of the 58 units have sold, Onstead said. Four sales have just closed, 11 transactions are in escrow, seven units are under construction and others are close to starting construction.

Prices of the units are $395,000 for a 1,300-square-foot home, $595,000 for a 2,200-square-foot home and $795,000 for a 2,900-square-foot home.

Olson said some downtown residents own homes in two communities.

“I’ve heard of people with big homes in Granite Bay having a condominium downtown,” she said. “Condominiums with three stories, garage and living area go for $180,000 to $399,000, depending on the age. The newer ones are more expensive.”

Many downtown residents are renters.

“A lot of college students live downtown and go to the community colleges and CSUS (California State University, Sacramento),” Olson said.

One-bedroom apartments go for $850 to $900 a month and flats or lofts can range from $1,700 to $2,200. In older buildings, two-bedroom apartments are $1,700, and studios are $1,000 a month, Olson said.

Downtown offers myriad entertainment venues and historical attractions.

Lucy Steffens of the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau said the three top tourist spots are Old Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum and the state Capitol. Old Sacramento, a state historical landmark, has more than 50 historical buildings in its 28 acres. It’s home to the railroad museum, the California History Museum and an array of shops and restaurants.

Underground tours in Old Sacramento take visitors though the district’s excavated foundations and archeological sites that are part of California’s only successful street-raising project, which occurred from 1860 to 1870 to protect the city from floods.

The railroad museum highlights the role of the “iron horse” in connecting California to the rest of the country. Twenty-one restored locomotives and cars are on display at the museum, and visitors can ride on excursion trains during the summer, through September.

The state Capitol features exhibits in its museum, tours through restored offices and legislative chambers and opportunities to see lawmakers in action when the state Legislature is in session.

Olson enjoys Sacramento’s many music and theater venues, including the California Musical Theatre’s Cosmopolitan Cabaret and Music Circus.

“There are a lot of good, local productions,” she said.