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Old 08-24-2013, 02:00 PM
Location: Carmichael, CA
1,935 posts, read 2,728,262 times
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Apparently Macy's is being uncooperative about selling or giving the property where the Macy's Men Store is located to be used in the new sports complex. So the city is considering condemning the store and using eminent domain to seize ownership and give it to the Kings.

There's one of many stories about it here: Seizing for Sport | The Institute for Justice but I've never heard of this Institute so I don't know if this is a legitimate story or not.

Edit: Sacramento CBS story here: http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2013/...w-kings-arena/

Is this a good thing for the city? (Not the having a new arena, but all the back-room deals that seem to be going on.)
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Old 08-24-2013, 02:38 PM
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Yes, but it likely won't come to that, they are just holding out for more money.
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Old 08-24-2013, 03:03 PM
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Macy's is just the tenant, they don't own the land. It's a bit hard to justify condeming a busy store in good repair. Considering that the last time the city did eminent domain was vs. Mo Mohanna circa 2007, resulting in a dead project, the track record isn't good.
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Old 08-24-2013, 05:26 PM
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Whether eminent domain of the Macy's is or is not a good idea is mostly about whether you think building an Arena at the site of the K Street Mall is a good idea. While I think keeping the Kings in Sacramento probably is good for the region, I think the new Arena probably should have been at the site of the current Arena, the streets are set up for it, the neighbors new what they were getting into when they bought out there and its probably the least expensive place in the region to build a new arena.

Getting K Street right is pretty important for downtown. If you can make K Street work, downtown thrives if you screw it up, you have really screwed up a big part of downtown for the next 30 years. Arenas are completely unused for most of the day most days of the year. If you drive past the current arena most of the time the parking lots there is completely empty. So I have my doubts.

I think you turn around K Street not by making one really big project work, but by making a series of smaller projects come together. The current Macy's helps anchor one block of the K Street Mall. While the rest of the current K Street Mall may need to be bulldozed. I suspect that the solution involves rebuilding the grid at the site of the current K Street Mall and building a series of fairly high density projects. It might be a hotel/housing on that area. It might be some additional office towers it might be some loft projects.

But I have this fear that 10 years from now people are going to be thinking why the heck did we stick an arena there?
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Old 08-24-2013, 10:41 PM
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Why does the rest of the current K Street mall need to be bulldozed? Many people say that because they assume that if you bulldoze a block, wonderful new skyscrapers come shooting out of the ground naturally like Jack's beanstalk. But that doesn't happen, as the vacant lots at 3rd and L Street and 8th and K Street can attest (along with still-vacant city blocks turned into parking lots where someone apparently forgot to plant magic skyscraper beans 50 years ago.)

It's perfectly feasible to put in new housing and new commercial uses in the existing buildings, and a lot of the buildings are already in active use, but they look "dead" because office uses aren't all that exciting on the street and they close at 5 PM, resulting in a street that looks empty. And not all the blocks are empty. The 1000 block is quite busy day and night, and the 1200 block close to the Convention Center is doing okay too, we just need a few more ground floor uses in existing buildings that present something other than reflective window coverings to the street. The greatest need is residential, but it's a lot easier and cheaper to convert existing buildings into housing than to build brand-new high-rises on bulldozed lots. There is already a huge demand for residential downtown, but not enough supply--somehow, all these so-called "entrepreneurs" don't understand that the high prices for downtown housing are a direct result of the law of supply and demand.

We don't need any more office towers and won't for a long, long time--there is a ton of vacant office space and not much demand, because the new breed of businesspeople don't need offices. If you've got a laptop and a Starbuck's, you've got an office--if you need something fancier, coworking spaces are cheaper and more cost-efficient than putting a brand new business in a private office.

Other than a handful of SRO hotels and the 800 J Street lofts, there really isn't anyone living in the immediate vicinity of K Street to complain--which is probably part of why it was a preferred arena site. I don't have much issue with the location, but the funding mechanism is a big problem.
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Old 08-24-2013, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
I don't have much issue with the location, but the funding mechanism is a big problem.
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Old 08-25-2013, 02:55 AM
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Pedestrianized neighborhoods tend to do better and land values are higher when they are well connected to the rest of the city. In general the more you extend and strengthen the grid the more you strengthen downtown.

Austin's grid circa 1940 - Austin Contrarian

But unlike Austin, because there isn't currently housing at the K Street Mall it isn't actually politically impossible right now to re-establish the grid in this area. The current K Street Mall is weak and underutilized. So this is probably the time and place to do it if its ever going to get done. If they build an arena at that location this problem won't be fixed for another 20 years or what ever is the shelf live of a NBA arena.

Land uses downtown is overly determined. There aren't enough building sites zoned for high density uses so its more profitable for developers to horde and speculate on the empty lots than to actually build higher density buildings on building sites zoned for higher density uses. If the city up zoned a lot more areas downtown, it would swamp the market for unimproved lots zoned for higher densities and if developers wanted to make money on empty lots zoned for higher density, they would actually have to build something at higher densities. Most of the current K Street Mall area isn't historically significant, its well served by transit. Its underutilized, its a prime area for being up-zoned

Second higher density doesn't necessarily mean 60 story office buildings. But if the city replaced the current structures at the K Street Mall with buildings that 4 to 6 stories tall, the city would significantly intensify land use in that corridor. Moreover current market rents in Sacramento probably only justify building about that high. Most of the cities in Europe and in places like Buenos Aires are about 4- 6 stories tall. The city wouldn't need to zone additional parking the area is among the best served areas for transit in the region. One could still leave the current Macy's site, but the parts of the mall that are disconnected from the street grid probably should be bulldozed and after you do that, I suspect a lot of the current K street mall site likely won't be able to stand on its own.
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:23 AM
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Marland, have you taken a look at zoning maps for the central city? The downtown core along the former pedestrian mall is zoned for 450 units per acre, with height limits going from 250 feet along L Street to unlimited north of K. And office buildings don't represent ANY density if nobody lives in them. There are plenty of buildings 4-6 stories tall, and taller, along the corridor. And other than Downtown Plaza, which I assume you're not talking about, it's still connected to the street grid except for the convention center. Could you be a little more specific about what it is you'd like to see knocked down?
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Old 08-25-2013, 04:06 PM
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I have been assuming that we are talking about the site where they are talking about building a new arena, the failed K Street Mall or Downtown Plaza or whatever name you want to call the property managed by Westfield. I am talking about roughly the area bounded by J and L as well as by 7th and 4th streets. This is an area that likely will see a lot of bulldozing to build a new arena.

What I think probably should be done here is to extend 4th, and 6th as well as re-establish K Street through this location. I would also get rid of the current pedestrian overpass on 5th street and have pedestrians walk at street level just like they do just about everywhere else in downtown. Now to do what I am suggesting involves a fair amount of bulldozing. Some buildings like the current Macy's sites probably could be preserved. But I also suspect that in doing what I am suggesting, a lot of other existing buildings in this location probably will end up cheaper to scrap than to use as the basis of some sort of adaptive reuse project. On the other hand if they build an arena at this location a lot of these projects are going to get bulldozed too.

As far as zoning in Sacramento in general I see it as big part of the problem. I think the zoning code should look something more like what they are proposing for Ann Harbor see here.

Ann Arbor Mixed Use Party: These crazy kids want to make their town better.

and more here

Mixed Use Zoning Plan | Ann Arbor Mixed Use Party

In general when you make lots of areas zoned for high intensity land uses, the value of holding the right to build higher density project on an unimproved lot falls because there is plenty of available supply. The only way for developers to make there land more valuable is to actually build something at higher densities. I think the future of downtown Sacramento is diversifying by building a lot more buildings that are 4-6 stories tall. Between 2000 and June of 2013 apparently there were only 5 buildings taller than 18 stories built in Sacramento. I suspect the reason so few building that tall were getting built in Sacramento is that ultimately rents and land values in this area still aren't high enough to build that high. I think the current code artificially holds down the supply of of 4-6 story buildings and the supply of lots zoned for even higher densities with the hope of redirecting the demand to build more 18 story buildings,with the unintended consequence is that it becomes more profitable for developers to horde the few building sites zoned for super high densities. A code like the one proposed for Ann Harbor would fix that.

What I don't understand is why you don't have a problem with the current proposed site for an arena. The big problem with putting an arena at the current proposed site is that an Arena is a huge single use project located in the middle of downtown that will sit mostly empty most hours of the the day most days of the year. Jane Jacobs made a lot of arguments against convention centers that I think are equally applicable here. I guess I am kind of wondering why you think the center of downtown is a good location for something that is going to be mostly pretty dead most of the day most of the time.

See Jane Jacobs essential webs of diversity discussion attached here
The Convention Follies, Part 5: A Conversation with Jane Jacobs
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:52 PM
Location: Northern California
933 posts, read 1,644,949 times
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Having the arena downtown adds an extra 18000 people to an area that otherwise wouldn't be seeing much pedestrian traffic. Suddenly event goers will most likely spend money before and after an event. We're also looking at a $1 billion redevelopment around the arena site from hotels, shops and restaurants, office and residential projects. Instead of having a rundown mall, we could see instead housing above retail. Traffic should be the least of people's worries. The city garages that usually are empty at night will be utilized. Downtown and midtown businesses will see an increase from the arena.
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