Building Our Future.
A faded blue front loader tells the story of Curtis Park’s newest revival on this fine sunny morning.
Trundling slowly down 10th Avenue and making a cautious right turn onto 24th Street, the tractor inches along with its stack of oriented strand board—OSB, the modern builder’s choice in undercoat sheeting for wood-frame construction. Homes are going up fast here, ready for occupancy before Thanksgiving.
Political arguments over the shape, size and attributes of the Curtis Park Village housing development have dragged on for years. But the presence of construction workers pounding nails signals the fight is over. New homes sprout from the wasteland between Curtis Park and Sacramento City College on dirt that once belonged to Western Pacific Railroad.
“It hasn’t been easy, but we’re excited to be where we are,” says Mike Paris, founder of BlackPine Communities, developer of the first 86 lots in what will eventually be a collection of 267 homes, shops and offices in the old railyard.
Paris came to Curtis Park late, acquiring a strip of land along the western fringe of the development, between 24th Street and newly paved Crocker Drive, in 2013. This was about a decade after the primary Curtis Park Village developer, Paul Petrovich, began the astonishingly adversarial work of cleaning the 72-acre brownfield site and acquiring entitlements from the city to build there.
Paris, tall and lean with spiky silver hair, isn’t a man who wastes time. This summer, his sales trailer bustled at the Village site, off 10th Avenue. Eager customers signed contracts. Crews poured concrete and built frames for homes that sell for $450,000 to $650,000 in one of Sacramento’s largest infill projects.
After decades in residential real estate development, Paris has become an infill guy. You won’t find him on land where the roads stop and tomato fields begin, building suburban subdivisions. He prefers
to take a neglected and abused site, bordered by urban expectations and wary neighbors, and create something that blends well and enhances the community.
In Curtis Park, he’s exceeding expectations with three variations of homes, identified in real estate sales pitches as Cottages, Brownstones and Expressions, the latter being the largest and most expensive. These are high-density residences that range from tiny (1,500 square feet) to abundant (more than 2,500 feet). Paris sold six of the first 12 homes before the structures were framed out.
“Our customers know what they want,” he says. “They are looking for the amenities of city life, and they can afford to wait until they find exactly what they’re looking for.”
Paris doesn’t provide data about his buyers, but informal conversations with potential customers at Curtis Park Village reveal exactly the sort of people you might expect to live in the neighborhood: high-level state workers, government consultants and health care professionals, people who want to reside near work and enjoy city life. The architectural features of the new homes posed a challenge for Paris. He wanted his designs to reflect Curtis Park, but he soon realized that Curtis Park is many things adding up to no particular style.
“When Curtis Park was originally developed, builders bought one lot, built their home, sold it and that was that,” he says. “There was no thought given to master planned communities like today.”
The result, he notes, is a perpetual “revivalism” of architecture in Curtis Park, which evolved from the farmland, dairy and stockyards of several 19th-century Sacramento pioneers, among them William Curtis.
Paris met a Curtis Park resident named Dan Murphy, who published a 2005 book called “Sacramento’s Curtis Park.” The book charts the transformation of farm, dairy and stockyard into homes, using the phrase “mosaic” to describe the development. Murphy helped Paris understand how Curtis Park came to be a mosaic, and how new cottages and brownstones could be made to fit, especially along the periphery of the neighborhood on 24th Street.
“Twenty-Fourth Street has always been a sort of stepchild to Curtis Park,” Paris says, pointing to homes vastly more eclectic and humble than those two blocks east. “Hopefully, our project helps pull it all together.”
It’s important to note that Paris is not Petrovich. Their projects, closely linked, are separate. Says Paris, “It was a very tough deal we did with Paul. But he fights hard because he believes in the project. I admire his tenacity.”
While Paris nears completion of the first new homes in Curtis Park Village, he needs Petrovich to succeed with the rest of the project, especially the markets and shops that will serve all those new homeowners.
“We’re waiting for Paul to get going, especially on that Safeway,” Paris says. “The sooner the better.”
Kathy Anker – Community Sales Consultant
916-970-5073 | cpv@BlackPineCommunities.com
3297 Crocker Drive, Sacramento CA 95818