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  #61  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 4:27 PM
travis bickle travis bickle is offline
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Originally Posted by sugit View Post
Mo is and forever will be a slumlord. While the city hasn't done itself any favors by not acting tougher sooner, he is still the biggest factors as to why K Street has become how it has.

The only thing he wants is his big payday. He will never actually build anything. While I don't know actually what he wants, I just assume the city give him the 4M (if that is what he wants) and get moving. Problem is, once that happens, then you have to deal with him on the 800 block.

I still think he had something to do with those buildings burning down. Too damn convienent those building burnt down just as he was supposed to transfer them per the signed agreement.
That fire was awfully convenient. What ever happened to the San Diego kid who was charged with the arson?

Last edited by travis bickle; May 31, 2007 at 4:57 PM.
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  #62  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 5:02 PM
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Originally Posted by travis bickle View Post
That fire was awfully convenient. What ever happened to the San Diego kid who was charged with the arson?
I've wondered the same thing. Seemed weird for a kid in SD to be in Sac setting fires...there have to be a couple dots out there that could use a line connecting them.
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  #63  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 5:27 PM
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Well although I wasn't sure Moe was behind the 'save our station' protest this confirms it.

Anyone fancies him/herself as a gumshoe and can do some poking around? Just watch your back. What do his taxes look like? I would like nothing better than to see Moe taken down. But seriously pay the bum off and get on with it.
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  #64  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 6:59 PM
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I am completely unable explain why certain people are so opposed to skyscrapers (or in Sacramento's case, high rises). Can an old 2-3 story building house the same number of residents a skyscraper houses? Can an old 2-3 story building attract the kind of business a skyscraper attracts? Can an old 2-3 story building provide the kind of stature a skyscraper provides? I'm sorry, but I just don't understand the desire to preserve the short, ugly, boring, old pile of crap buildings that plague our downtown/midtown. I guess it takes all kinds, unfortunately. But to hear (or read) some people use "skyscraper" as though it is a bad word bothers me. I am not saying I want every old piece of architecture destroyed. I agree that some (or most, or all) of the progressive moves made during the 50s 60s and 70s were terrible - If you are going to bulldoze a grand old structure, at least have the decency to replace it with something grand (Would you rather be watching a film in a spectacular movie palace or buying groceries at a Safeway?). Often people tend to present an “either, or” argument when it comes to old and new; the two can coexist. The Sheraton Grand is a good example. The plans for the 700 and 800 blocks of K Street are another good example: one block with renovated (I guess "renovate" is a bad word, also) old buildings and another block that actually embraces the present and looks toward the future with high rises.

If Mohanna actually had a drive to build skyscrapers, I would not see it as a bad thing, and it certainly would not be the culprit in this squabble. No, as others have said, Mohanna's greed is the culprit. His only drive is to sit around and wait until he gets a magical, impossible, exorbitant price for his properties. I will say the excuse he's given for this latest drama (banks unwilling to transfer loans to destroyed buildings that cannot generate rental income) may have some truth to it. Although, how many of us truly believe he would have rented out those buildings if they had not been destroyed? So I remain highly suspect of his motivation. I think he is more interested in using the fire as a way to extract an additional $500,000.00 or $1,000,000.00 (he needs those additional funds to buy another property, rent it out to a seedy liquor store operator and wait until a developer offers him $650,000,000.00 for it). Don't get me wrong, I think Mohanna can do what he pleases with his property. I'm as capitalist/anti-socialist/libertarian as they come. However, I think sometimes people like Mohanna fail to see the big picture. They focus so much on making money, yet they don't actually make any money. Mohanna is driven by greed, and he's not getting anywhere or doing anything. Mohanna is paralyzed. Very sad. What's worse is that he has paralyzed development along K Street.
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  #65  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 7:14 PM
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Too bad The Bee won't run an article on Mohanna entitled 'The Biggest Scumbag in Sactown'.
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  #66  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 7:32 PM
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Originally Posted by snfenoc View Post
I am completely unable explain why certain people are so opposed to skyscrapers (or in Sacramento's case, high rises). Can an old 2-3 story building house the same number of residents a skyscraper houses? Can an old 2-3 story building attract the kind of business a skyscraper attracts? Can an old 2-3 story building provide the kind of stature a skyscraper provides? I'm sorry, but I just don't understand the desire to preserve the short, ugly, boring, old pile of crap buildings that plague our downtown/midtown. I guess it takes all kinds, unfortunately.(snip)
I'm not opposed to high-rises or skyscrapers--they have their place and their role. There certainly are things they can do that smaller historic buildings can't. But there are also things that skyscrapers can't do, that historic buildings can--which is why we need both. New skyscrapers don't carry on the architectural and social legacy of a city, although they can continue it. New buildings, skyscrapers or not, carry a bigger environmental impact whereas constructed buildings provide a big environmental savings (and a cost savings) in that the energy of their construction has already been spent. Rehabbing old buildings is better for the local economy because the bulk of the expense is in labor, which is money spent locally, rather than in materials. Old buildings are also better places for low-income housing than new buildings, because they are inherently cheaper than new construction. This means that the government doesn't have to subsidize low-income housing construction in order for it to occur.

One of the major driving forces of urban renewal was tax-increment financing--government borrows money to pay to knock down neighborhoods, then subsidizes industry with the borrowed money, and paid off the loans with the increased property taxes. This resulted in bigger government, higher taxes, government-enforced theft of private property, destruction of small businesses and reduced rates of home ownership--all things that should make any good libertarian's head spin with fury.

This may surprise you, but I consider myself a libertarian and a capitalist too, though perhaps not to the same extent. History is a resource--a limited, highly valuable and irreplaceable resource. Correct husbanding and management of that resource can (and SHOULD) result in profits, both financial and social.
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  #67  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 8:44 PM
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Originally Posted by sugit View Post
Mo is and forever will be a slumlord. While the city hasn't done itself any favors by not acting tougher sooner, he is still the biggest factors as to why K Street has become how it has.

The only thing he wants is his big payday. He will never actually build anything. While I don't know actually what he wants, I just assume the city give him the 4M (if that is what he wants) and get moving. Problem is, once that happens, then you have to deal with him on the 800 block.

I still think he had something to do with those buildings burning down. Too damn convienent those building burnt down just as he was supposed to transfer them per the signed agreement.

Well said.

The sad part is, that when the dust settles, Mo will then control the 800 block of K street. And if anybody believes he will follow through on his promise to revitalize that streetch, I've got a bridge to sell you in San Francisco. Ten years from now the city will have to return to the courts in an attempt to wrestle control of the 800 block away from Mohanna through eminent domain. But make no mistake, Mohanna will not be revitalizing the 800 block of K street, and you can expect his land to fall into the same state of disrepair as the 700 block did.

I know the Zeiden proposal isn't the most ambitious. But it's more likely to actually happen. Too bad the city didn't award him both blocks.
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  #68  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 8:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Fusey View Post
Too bad The Bee won't run an article on Mohanna entitled 'The Biggest Scumbag in Sactown'.
Makes you wonder who he owns over there in the Hive... Not that the Bee would ever be paid off by some one...

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  #69  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 8:54 PM
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  #70  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 8:55 PM
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The problem is that most of the SROs are in miserably bad condition, indifferently maintained, physically dangerous, for the most part not air-conditioned, and generally pretty miserable places to live. Most feature shared bathrooms on each floor, and only a couple have any sort of cooking facilities. The people who live there do so because for the most part they literally can't afford to live anyplace else, or have bad credit histories and can't rent anyplace that does a background check.

In fact, most of the SROs aren't part of Sacramento's inclusionary housing program at all. They're cheap because they are run by slumlords, not because they are government-subsidized (once again, with a couple of exceptions.) Building substitute housing for SRO residents will probably require massive government subsidy, simply because housing is so expensive to build, and you quite literally can't build SRO-style housing (with shared bathrooms, no kitchens, etc.) legally anymore. Retrofitting and repair of the existing buildings, but maintaining the building's purpose, and introducing management slightly less indifferent to the population's well-being would solve many of the SRO hotels' perception problems.

Having had the chance to visit a Chicago SRO on a fact finding mission, so as to guage the effects of poverty, I would have to agree with everything you said here wburg.

You summed it up well by stating

"Retrofitting and repair of the existing buildings, but maintaining the building's purpose, and introducing management slightly less indifferent to the population's well-being would solve many of the SRO hotels' perception problems."


Sacramento can't afford to lose any additonal SRO's. But admittedly the properties need to cleaned up. Some people live in SRO's because that's all that they can afford. Losing these places to the bulldozer will mean more people on the streets.

It makes more sense, (as I've stated before), to build the kind of low income housing for those on low or fixed incomes (you can include students and artists) etc that can blend with the with \what Sacramento is trying to accomplish. That is becoming a place that attracts a mix of incomes to live downtown and midstown.

Sacramento's best example would be Pensione K...
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  #71  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 9:16 PM
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that's an interesting take, wburg. and this sort of approach may be what is beginning to take place a couple blocks away at 10th & K. The reuse of the Roos Atkins building by splitting up the building into small office condos will also allow for smaller firms to move in, and actually own a property on K Street.


about Moe... that guy is such a scumbag. what makes him think that the city would favor him because of his 30 years of neglect? what a waste of time and money that the downtown partnership had to retain legal council because of his badgering - they are a non-profit that i assume he agreed to have his property assesment taxes help fund. the guy is self-destructive and he's taking down everyone else with him. Can you even imagine Saca having to now partner with him to redevelop the 800 block? that's just adding insult to injury.

I was thinking of making up a bunch of these and selling them to raise funds for the city's upcoming legal battle against the Moe... I figure at $5 a pop, i will need to sell 600,001 of these to beat Moe's $3 million he's willing to spend in court. Way to show all your cards dude...

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  #72  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 9:30 PM
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Sacramento's best example would be Pensione K...
Pensione K is considered an SRO.

My big fear is that the other lots that Mohanna controls will end up the same as the southeast corner of 8th and K. That includes the quarter-block just south, which includes the Bel-Vue Apartments (forcibly vacated) and 815 L Street. That quarter-block includes some pretty great old buildings, just dying for adaptive reuse, that would be a great complement for the building slated for the corner of 10th and L. The Bel-Vue wasn't considered an SRO, and personally I'd consider it a heck of a spot for a "higher low-income" reuse project along the lines of Pensione K (with retail below and residences above) but utilizing a faded gem of a building instead of new construction, aimed at the LI and VLI income levels.

As for the higher incomes, I'm still thinking there are going to be a couple of residential towers on Capitol Mall pretty soon that will fill that need.

Last edited by wburg; May 31, 2007 at 9:37 PM.
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  #73  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 9:47 PM
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Pensione K is considered an SRO.

Which is my point..

Pensione K was constructed to attract people who wouldn't normally live in the Marshall or the other DT SROs, while still including those who would. It includes artist lofts, and street level retail.
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  #74  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 10:40 PM
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Look I'm not a heart-less conservative by any means and I do think making sure that all socio economic classes can afford to live in the central city is both healthy and economically sensible. I have worked at homeless shelters and missions before so I know first hand the problems. I also know that many of the advocates of the poor and the politicians cannot be trusted to come up with a solution because they never have to worry about living among the poverty-stricken and distressed individuals they claim to represent, from the comfort of their landscaped suburban neighborhoods or downtown condos.

The cumulative impacts of concentrating poverty contribute to the decline of the social, environmental and economic health of downtown. K Street Mall is where most outsiders get their negative impressions of downtown Sacramento from. The problem is that these poorly maintained properties impact the value of surrounding ones and are having a damaging effect on drawing people to existing businesses or to open a new business. Many of these slum lords own mutliple properties, have significant capital, and make a great deal of profit from renting substandard rooms.

Do we have any means to compel the owner to repair/improve their building and perhaps provide upgraded units to second tier incomes? Could we use a tougher building maintenance code as a weapon? We could require a permit for all apartment/res. hotel buildings in a designated zone that requires the owner to post a bond for the general maintenance of the structure. If they don't comply, then the city uses the bond to fix the nuisance/health hazard problem or put the costs on their property taxes as a tax lien. We could do the same thing we've done with resturants and have a inspection ordinance and slap a PASS, FIX or CLOSE sticker on the outside.

I think a program to rigorously enforce reasonable 'quality standards' in downtown housing could drive up the cost of providing low-cost housing to the point that the property owners will be forced to pass the costs on to the renters (The slum landlords will not want to reduce their profit margin) and since people who are not rock-bottom poor, socially retarted, or do not have a 'poverty consciousness' tend to require some minimum living standards these landlords will have to upgrade their properties to attract a different clientale.

I'm all for the city supporting low-income transitional housing and programs to assist people move from shelters into a more independent living situations but the present policy just is not working for the city. The reason many cities and whole countries (like Singapore) built or invested in public housing for poor people is because the free market did not always generate housing outcomes that were acceptable to society. Could the city partner with private developers to build SRO housing to replace the sub-standard housing that is on or near K Street now somewhere else? Maybe we could create tiered low-income housing to deal with the various issues the people have to deal with? They could be located throughout the central city with a requirement that they be a certian distance from another SRO.

PS: I love the idea Tower District.
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Last edited by ozone; May 31, 2007 at 10:46 PM.
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  #75  
Old Posted May 31, 2007, 11:04 PM
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I'm not opposed to high-rises or skyscrapers--they have their place and their role. There certainly are things they can do that smaller historic buildings can't. But there are also things that skyscrapers can't do, that historic buildings can--which is why we need both. New skyscrapers don't carry on the architectural and social legacy of a city, although they can continue it. New buildings, skyscrapers or not, carry a bigger environmental impact whereas constructed buildings provide a big environmental savings (and a cost savings) in that the energy of their construction has already been spent. Rehabbing old buildings is better for the local economy because the bulk of the expense is in labor, which is money spent locally, rather than in materials. Old buildings are also better places for low-income housing than new buildings, because they are inherently cheaper than new construction. This means that the government doesn't have to subsidize low-income housing construction in order for it to occur.

One of the major driving forces of urban renewal was tax-increment financing--government borrows money to pay to knock down neighborhoods, then subsidizes industry with the borrowed money, and paid off the loans with the increased property taxes. This resulted in bigger government, higher taxes, government-enforced theft of private property, destruction of small businesses and reduced rates of home ownership--all things that should make any good libertarian's head spin with fury.

This may surprise you, but I consider myself a libertarian and a capitalist too, though perhaps not to the same extent. History is a resource--a limited, highly valuable and irreplaceable resource. Correct husbanding and management of that resource can (and SHOULD) result in profits, both financial and social.
You bring up some interesting points. I could not agree more with your summary of tax-increment financing and government subsidies. I did not support the City's commitment of public funds to Saca's poorly-planned dream, and I remain dead against public assistance for any development. Also, as I said in my previous post, I do not support tearing down every old structure. Believe me, each time I drive past the Safeway on Alhambra my heart sinks - We are really missing out. I agree a balance is in order. Now, here comes the "big but". BUT.......................

1) You mentioned the need for both older structures and modern skyscrapers/high rises/mid rises/low rises. Basically, you are talking balance. Great. The problem: "Balance" means different things to different people. I have a rather negative view of preservationists. The following is only my OPIONION: I think preservationists like to say they want balance, but their idea of balance does not match what is reasonable. Someone can say they don't mind skyscrapers and then find an excuse to go out and sue every developer who tries to build one. I have preservationist friend; I call him Wacko McGee (he does not appreciate that nickname). Mr. McGee does not mind skyscrapers and high rises as long as the fit within certain “view corridors”. However, when you look at his view corridors, you find that skyscrapers must be significantly smaller than expected (150 to 350 feet) and only a select few areas are designated for them. Mr. McGee also has no problem with new structures as long as they do not destroy or disturb certain preservation-worthy buildings. Wonderful. However, his definition of "preservation-worthy” is so loose that a significantly reduced number of new buildings are allowable. When you combine his view corridor rules with his preservation-worthy rules, you find that it’s very difficult to get anything built. Basically, he wants down town Sacramento to be a larger version of down town Auburn – Main Street, USA. Unacceptable. Is it really balance when preservationists say they are for skyscrapers and modern buildings as long as they fit into extremely (almost impossibly) narrow criteria? I don’t think so.
Just so you don’t accuse me of being Mr. Strawman: I am not saying you are like Wacko McGee, but I have my suspicions – I’d kind of like to know what situations you think skyscrapers and modern buildings are acceptable/allowable.

2) "New skyscrapers don't carry on the architectural and social legacy of a city, although they can continue it." Wait. What? Isn't carrying on the architectural and social legacy of a city the SAME as continuing the architectural and social legacy of a city? Also, I would submit to you that while a modern building may or may not continue or carry on a city’s architectural and social legacy, it certainly can introduce a new architectural and social legacy - One which wackos () 100 years from now may fight to keep.

3) I do not care a whole lot about the environment or low-income housing (I am a heartless conservative/libertarian). So, . However, let me just say that many of the old building rehabs I've seen don't exactly result in cheap places to live. Gutting an old building, installing modern features and making it ready for residents does cost pretty good money. Next, factor in the space problem: Older buildings (especially those in Sacramento) don't have the square footage of modern mid/high rises. Less square footage often means a lower volume of residents; and lower volume can mean higher prices. Yes, the cost of a rehab is less, but you also have fewer residents to spread the cost.

4) I'm not sure I agree with you when it comes to the local economic benefits. When you really look at the benefits of a $3.5 million rehab and a $350 million skyscraper, it would seem the skyscraper rapes the rehab every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Yes, a new skyscraper is going to use a lot of money on materials, but I have a feeling a rehab will need a good load of materials as well - tightening loose bolts and hammering in protruding nails is not enough. Sure, a higher percentage of a new skyscraper's cost may go to materials, but a skyscraper also costs more than a rehab and requires more workers (workers who may live in the area and will certainly spend money in the area) to construct it. Therefore, I would think you might see a greater economic benefit just from the building of a new skyscraper than you would from rehabbing an old brick pillbox. In addition, don't forget that once the rehab or skyscraper is done, the building will continue to throw off economic benefit throughout its life. I think the building capable of housing more workers, businesses and residents will also be capable of producing a bigger economic benefit. I'm not certain, but I think that building is..................................................................the skyscraper.

5) Let's exit the skyscraper realm here, for a moment, and compare a rehab to the construction of a similar-sized new building. While the rehab has the benefit of already existing, it also has numerous hurdles to overcome. Modernization is very expensive - try retrofitting an air conditioning system into a building that was not designed for it - $$$$. Older buildings tend to deteriorate, so they have to be gutted and stabilize - $$$$$$$. Heaven forbid you need to change configuration. You can't just knock out a load-bearing wall; new engineering and new framing must incorporated - $$$$$$$$$. With a new building, you get to start with a clean slate; it will conform to you (as well as modern standards), you don't have to conform to it.


Thanks for contributing to this board. You bring a different view. I am glad you decided to join.
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  #76  
Old Posted Jun 1, 2007, 5:16 PM
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K St. landlord: Zeiden didn't prevent arson
Lawsuit is new snag for downtown
Sacramento Business Journal - June 1, 2007 by Michael Shaw

The K Street rift widened Tuesday with the filing of another lawsuit, this time by developer Mohammed "Moe" Mohanna, who contends a fellow landlord negligently let one of Mohanna's properties fall victim to arsonists.

Alleging losses of more than $1 million, Mohanna sued Zeiden Properties LLC, which plans to build a Z Gallerie furniture store and other retail shops with revamped storefronts on K Street in downtown Sacramento. In a historic deal brokered by the city, Mohanna, Zeiden and others had originally agreed to swap several parcels to ease development along two blocks.

At least that was the plan. The redevelopment of pedestrian-oriented K Street fizzled following the fire last fall, and the deal shows no sign of progress outside of court action.

The city in February filed suit against Mohanna and his partners who were expected to take ownership of properties on the south side of K Street between 8th and 9th streets in exchange for giving up their property to Zeiden. Zeiden was not sued.

Last week, a judge backed the city by rebuffing a legal challenge to the suit, meaning Mohanna and other defendants will now have to answer the city's complaint in court. The city's suit alleges Mohanna and his partners "materially breached" the contract after the city bought several properties for more than market value to make the deal happen.

Mohanna has said he was reluctant to swap properties after the city evicted paying tenants and after his building at 810 K St., formerly a surf shop, was badly burned by arsonists on Nov. 26, less than a month after the deal was struck. It was not a building included in the proposed swap.

In his lawsuit against Zeiden, Mohanna says that his building was torched by arsonists who gained access from 812 K St., the building immediately to the east, through a 3-foot hole in a brick basement wall. Zeiden Properties owned 812 K St.

"Zeiden had received notice prior to November, 26, 2006, that transients and other trespassers were accessing the 812 K Street property," according to the suit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court. "Zeiden failed to take measures to (ensure) that transients and other trespassers were barred from entering the 812 K Street property."

Both buildings have since been demolished because of safety concerns.

Representatives from Zeiden Properties, who have likely not yet seen the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment.

The suit says Mohanna has received notices from the Sacramento Air Quality Management District for potential violations at the site.

He provided police and fire reports with the lawsuit that reinforce his claim that there was a hole in the basement between the two properties. Mohanna said he was not aware of the hole.

He told investigators at the time that he owns more than 130 properties and bought 810 K St. for a price between $500,000 and $600,000 two years ago. He said he did not carry insurance on the building.

Sacramento assistant city manager John Dangberg said recently that the city is still pursuing efforts to make redevelopment happen on K Street.

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  #77  
Old Posted Jun 1, 2007, 5:22 PM
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Lot of new high end stuff going into the Galleria. That's a blow to seeing any of them in the DT area...

New stores, upscale dining area part of Galleria's expansion plan
Burberry, Kate Spade, Juicy, Lacoste to make local debut in Roseville mall

The latest tidbits on the expansion of Westfield Galleria at Roseville reveal it will bring a new building for Crate & Barrel, a new take on the old food court and a slate of new tenants.

Crate & Barrel will get a new prototype store not far from its current store near Nordstrom, mall representatives say.

The 600-seat food court will be replaced with what Westfield calls a "café-style dining terrace," with indoor and outdoor alfresco dining seating 820 people for an "elevated dining experience." Westfield says it doesn't build food courts anymore.

Some of the new tenants lined up for the expansion of the Roseville mall are Lacoste, Burberry, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade and The Apple Store. All are new to the Sacramento market except Apple, which has a site at Arden Fair that's almost always bustling.

Over the next couple of years, the Galleria, which is almost seven years old, will be reoriented to cluster similar tenants together.

The expansion also will include new family restaurants, two family lounges and a new play area inside. The project, which is adding about 450,000 square feet to the 1.1 million-square-foot mall (not counting the new parking garages), will transform the regional mall into a "super regional mall," representatives say. An addition to Macy's is under construction, and JCPenney will expand its store within a year.
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  #78  
Old Posted Jun 1, 2007, 5:58 PM
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ozone ozone is offline
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I think Moe is looking at his little empire finally crumbling and is acting disparate. I looked into renting one of his spaces on K Street a few months ago but after his legal battles with the city started to heat up I called him and told him (in so many words) that I was not interested because I could not in good conscience lease from someone who would drag the city down as he has done. It's still empty. Moe must go!

As for the Galleria impacting DTP. This is a very LA scenario. I don't know enough about the buying habits of the people in this region to know if this will hurt DTP or not. I wouldn't drive out to Roseville just to go a suburban mall but I'm maybe I'm atypical. Obviously the Galleria is making a lot more money for Westfield that DTP.

Looking back at their endless rhetoric over the years, how they tried to put the kibosh on other retail projects downtown, and the disgraceful condition of the DTP it would seem that Westfield and downtown Sacramento are not a good match. The company seems unable or unwilling to make it work. I wish they'd sell it and get out of town. But that seems unlikely. Who would buy it?
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  #79  
Old Posted Jun 1, 2007, 6:10 PM
sugit sugit is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozone View Post
I think Moe is looking at his little empire finally crumbling and is acting disparate. I looked into renting one of his spaces on K Street a few months ago but after his legal battles with the city started to heat up I called him and told him (in so many words) that I was not interested because I could not in good conscience lease from someone who would drag the city down as he has done. It's still empty. Moe must go!
Glad to hear you didn't do business with that guy.

Yeah, I agree. It seems like he is grasping for anything with this lawsuit against Zieden.

The part about the judge backing the city so far sounds good, but I really have no idea what it means. Anyone with some knowledge, I'd love to hear what it means in lamens terms
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  #80  
Old Posted Jun 1, 2007, 6:33 PM
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wburg wburg is offline
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urban encounter: The irony is that the SRO-type structures that aren't currently income-limited (like the Berry and the Marshall) that are the problem (in terms of poor maintenance and tolerance of bad behavior) while the income-limited and subsidized ones (like Pensione K, which is all low-income, but distributed between all three low-income categories) tend to be better-run, far cleaner, and a far better fit into the community.

Some might wonder how things got this way. Sacramento's downtown used to be a LOT more populated, but one of the objectives of our urban renewal plans was, quite literally, to depopulate much of the central city. The population of the redevelopment areas was reduced by about 75%, from an "overpopulated" 32 units an acre to a suburb-like 8 units an acre, through mass evictions, eminent domain proceedings, and wholesale destruction of housing. For the most part, even the 8 that remained weren't former residents.

The people in these buildings didn't vanish: they moved to other central city neighborhoods, including Alkali Flat, Southside, and Oak Park. There was a massive population of single men, mostly seasonal laborers, along the riverfront's hotels--the area was known as the "Labor Market" and it was a clearinghouse for seasonal labor in farms, canneries, etcetera. Because SHRA only considered families, not individuals, as requiring replacement housing, no allowance was made for these guys, and as a result they moved from hotels on the riverfront to hotels along J and K Street. Instead of solving the perceived social problem, they simply shifted it.

The solution, in my mind? Let's build a hell of a lot of housing in the central city! This requires some creative solutions, making use of existing infill lots and a lot of small/mid projects rather than a handful of big projects. This doesn't excuse bad-actor SRO landlords from cleaning up their properties, but one way to balance the incomes of downtown residents is simply to build more mid/high end housing, rather than eliminating the low-end.

Where would I like to see skyscrapers? Capitol Mall is a good start, and personally I'm not a big fan of the "view protection act" around the Capitol, but you'd have a tough time with that as I think it's a state measure, you'd need the state government to agree to do away with it. There are quite a few parking lots, legacies of old redevelopment areas, that could use some altitude on them. While I am an ardent (well, okay, rabidly foaming) fan of the remaining Southern Pacific shops buildings, outside of the Shops/Railroad Technology Museum area, much of the Railyards area could get quite tall and I'd be cool with it. Where don't they belong? I'll sum it up in three words: Historic preservation districts.

Finding the middle ground is always a challenge, and typically compromise means making everyone equally uncomfortable with the final plan...
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