Urban Infill Projects See Strong Demand In Sacramento Area
Over the last decade, developers have been saying strong demand for new housing close to Sacramento’s urban core would drive construction in some of the city’s most challenging infill sites.
They planned developments aimed at young professionals and empty-nesters, who they predicted would seek single-family homes closer to work and within easy reach of the central city’s trendy restaurants and shopping.
The housing crash put those plans on hold, but today the developments are moving ahead, with site preparation and construction happening at a half-dozen sites around the city and in West Sacramento.
Homes already built or underway have been selling at a brisk pace.
Two small housing developments in midtown Sacramento are nearly sold out. And a larger subdivision in the city’s Curtis Park neighborhood has had buyers signing contracts since building started this summer.
“It’s what we’ve been projecting all along,” said Kevin Smith, with San Diego-based Ranch Capital. The firm broke ground in May on a 32-acre infill development called Northwest Land Park.
“We’ve always looked at the demand for infill housing being underpinned by demographics,” Smith said. “The largest generations in the history of the U.S. are the baby boomers and millennials. A significant proportion want downtown living instead of driving too far to live in a house that’s too big.”
Like most of the city’s other significant projects in downtown’s orbit, Northwest Land Park will occupy a scrap of land repurposed from industrial use – in its case, old warehouses and a wood-products plant. Curtis Park Village, now under construction just east of Sacramento City College, will occupy a former railyard and state Superfund site that is still bordered on its western flank by freight and passenger train tracks.
Northwest Land Park is slated for 825 homes priced from roughly $200,000 to $400,000, Smith said. Crews are grading dirt, laying pipe and digging trenches for underground utilities.
Site work is also proceeding at McKinley Village, a development being built on a 49-acre almond-shaped piece of land wedged between busy train tracks and the Capital City Freeway in East Sacramento. The New Home Co. plans to build 336 homes on the property, where prior development proposals crashed following intense opposition from nearby residents.
Just across the Pioneer Bridge in West Sacramento, sleek homes called the Park Moderns are rising from a former industrial area. The first group of 16 homes sold out in days, and development firm Fulcrum has moved on to a second phase.
And at 2500R – a densely built collection of 34 single-family detached homes at 25th and R streets, in another former industrial corridor – only the model home remains for sale.
Buyers snapped up the other houses in less than a year, starting in August 2013, for prices that ranged from about $350,000 to $450,000, said Mark Wiese, president of Sacramento development firm Pacific Housing. The two- and three-bedroom homes range in size from about 1,300 to 1,700 square feet, each with its own one-car garage.
Many buyers were young professionals; others were older. But almost all were employed in downtown or midtown and wanted to be able to walk, bike or take light rail to work, Wiese said.
“We felt we offered a great product at a very fair price in a limited market,” he said. “The smaller product was really well received. The mid-$300,000s to the upper $300,000s is a great purchase point for midtown.”
Six blocks away at Tapestri Square, just three of the 50 larger brownstone-style townhouses remain unsold. They’re 2,700 square feet each and cost about $800,000, said sales agent Madeline Noell. Most buyers at Tapestri Square, at 21st and T streets, were couples with grown children who wanted a low-maintenance lifestyle close to work, restaurants and urban amenities, Noell said.
“They want to get downtown. They want to walk places. They don’t want to be tied to a house and yard, and they want no maintenance,” she said. “They like the lock-and-leave concept. The homeowners association maintains everything outside.”
The buyers included eight or nine doctors who work for the region’s major health systems, she said.
“Doctors are our No. 1 recurring buyer,” Noell said. “We have almost every hospital represented here, some multiple times.”
Farther from downtown but still close in, Curtis Park Village is rising from a plain just north of the Sutterville Road bridge. The site still has freight and light-rail trains traveling through every day on nine tracks. With little built so far, the property offers a spectacular view of the downtown skyline.
About 500 houses and apartments are planned with a shopping center and park. Construction of homes began in recent months.
The first homes are being built by local firm BlackPine Communities. With steeply pitched roofs and arched entryways, they’re called The Cottages and are meant to give the feel of a European village, said BlackPine sales consultant Kathy Anker. Plans run from 1,482 square feet to 2,163 square feet, and prices range from around $530,000 to $620,000.
Five of the dozen cottages have already sold. The smaller plans are the most popular, Anker said. Doctors and nurses have been among the buyers at Curtis Park Village, too, she said.
Vanessa Garcia, a nurse at UC Davis Medical Center, was the first to buy at Curtis Park Village. She owned a condominium in Carmichael but wanted to be closer to work.
Garcia said she’d been looking for months in established neighborhoods near the central city, including Land Park, Curtis Park and East Sacramento. But many older homes lacked the features she preferred, including a walk-in closet and a master suite with its own bathroom.
When Curtis Park Village came online, she saw it as a chance to have exactly what she wanted: a home with modern amenities next to a neighborhood with character and charm.
“I really wanted something that was more up to date,” Garcia said. “Getting to choose everything that went into it was a big factor.”
Garcia said she picked wood floors and quartz counters as upgrades to the $518,000, 1,482-square-foot house.
BlackPine has started on its next 45 homes – a group of three-story houses called The Brownstones. Optional upgrades include elevators and rooftop patios that will look over the tree canopy of Curtis Park and have views of the downtown skyline.
There’s already been significant buyer interest, though pricing has not been determined, Anker said.
A pedestrian bridge will eventually connect the homes at Curtis Park Village to the college and a light-rail station. A Safeway grocery store and restaurants are planned as part of the development, Anker said.
“People are so looking forward to having this walkable lifestyle,” she said.