May 28, 2013

Housing projects resume in midtown Sacramento

Sacramento's leafy midtown grid is noisy with hammers and power saws these days as housing projects that stalled during the downturn resume in the recovery.

Sacramento's leafy midtown grid is noisy with hammers and power saws these days as housing projects that stalled during the downturn resume in the recovery.

At 25th and R streets, model homes are rising on a vacant lot beside the light-rail tracks. Sales of 34 energy-efficient homes could start as soon as next month, the builder said.

Six blocks away, at 21st and T streets, workers are building brownstone-style homes at Tapestri Square. More than two-thirds of the 58 homes planned for the site have been sold.

Nearby, buyers snapped up all nine of the new bungalows at the Craftsman at 20th & S project, where a handful of homes are still under construction.

And the Capitol Area Development Authority, partnering with private developers, is moving steadily ahead with the East End Gateway apartment project at 16th and O streets and the long-awaited conversion of a dilapidated warehouse into artists lofts on R Street, between 11th and 12th streets.

"It seems like a really good time for residential (in midtown)," said Wendy Saunders, who is CADA's new executive director. Would-be buyers and renters are moving to the central city to be close to work and amenities, such as farmers markets and restaurants, she said.

"If you can eat well and walk to work all in your own neighborhood, it's a good way to live," Saunders said. "It's hitting a sweet spot with a lot of people."

CADA and developers are erecting two six-story towers in the Spanish colonial revival style at 16th and O streets. The buildings will house 84 market-rate apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail space. The project has been renamed Legado de Ravel, after one of the developers, Gary Ravel, who died last year, Saunders said.

The R Street venture now dubbed "The Wal" – short for Warehouse Artists Lofts – has been 15 years in the making. The mix of 116 apartments, retail shops, restaurants and offices packed into two six-story buildings are a joint project of CFY Development and CADA. The project is a main component of the effort to transform the formerly industrial R Street corridor into an arts and culture district.

It has been long delayed due to financing problems, but it finally took off last year after CADA joined with CFY to win $18 million in federal tax credits. Now construction workers are framing windows and interior walls, Saunders said. Foundation work has begun for a new building next door that's also part of the project, she said.

John Mansfield's Craftsman at 20th & S project got off to a slow start in 2011, when no one was buying, he said. Once a model home went up, and the market started to turn last year, the nine houses all sold relatively quickly, Mansfield said.

The homes – which range from 1,520 square feet to 1,600 square feet and cost around $400,000 each – proved popular with young professionals, he said.

Tapestri Square, where the larger three-story brownstone-style homes sell from $400,000 to $800,000, has attracted couples whose children have grown up and younger buyers trying to gain a foothold in the housing market, said sales agent Madeline Noell.

"There are two distinct buyer profiles," Noell said. One is "empty nesters downsizing. Most of our buyers are 48 and above. They're getting rid of the pool and and yard. We're also starting to see younger buyers focused on resale. They're thinking in 10 years they might sell again."

At the partially built project, sales were slow until last year, when things started to perk up, she said. Now all but 17 of the 58 homes are spoken for.

Developer Mark Wiese, of Pacific Housing, said his 2500 R project began to take shape in 2010, but then its financing fell through twice. Now Wiese said he's found "the right financing team," the market has turned around, and the project has renewed momentum. It will feature 34 single-family homes, ranging from 1,300 to 1,700 square feet, each with a one-car garage.

The homes will also come with solar panels and advanced energy storage systems. The goal is to achieve "net-zero energy," meaning the homes use no more electricity than they produce, Wiese said.

Pricing is still being worked out, Wiese said.

With sales inventory scarce in midtown and demand rising, now is a good time to be starting construction, he said.

"It's nice we're there," Wiese said.

Call The Bee's Hudson Sangree, (916) 321-1191.

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