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K Street Mall is getting some activity after work began again on a mermaid bar and two other nightlife venues.
San Francisco nightclub owner George Karpaty originally hoped to open Dive Bar, a dance club named District 30 and a gourmet pizza restaurant, Pizza Rock, near 10th and K streets by late 2009. The $6 million-plus project was delayed at least in part by opposition, including a lawsuit to stop it that was thrown out of court last summer.
Saying he wanted to move forward, Karpaty declined to discuss the reasons the project on the blighted mall was thrown off schedule. But, he said, he now expects to open all three sites by late summer.
"We had some delays. But we're coming," he said.
Developers David Taylor and Los Angeles-based CIM Group have begun work on the shell and core of the building they now own at 1016, 1020 and 1022 K St. Crews are working to make the building structurally sound and to repair the roof, said Ellen Warner, a partner at David Taylor Interests.
"K Street still really needs a lot of revitalization," she said. "We think that's important for our community."
Late last year, the city's Redevelopment Agency transferred ownership of the building, which is divided into three suites, and one next door at 1012 K St. — and the land under both — to Taylor and CIM.
Fabricators in various studios are now building the giant aquarium that will hold "mermaids" of both genders, as well as other big pieces for Karpaty's new businesses.
"It's going to be far more over-the-top than people think," Karpaty said. "It's going to be insane."
Karpaty said he used his experience opening award-winning Ruby Skye and four other Bay Area nightclubs to create unique design elements for his newest project. Inside the gourmet pizza restaurant, Pizza Rock, a DJ will play music from a retro Mack truck that appears to be breaking through the ceiling 15 feet in the air.
And he said he expects Dive Bar's aquarium, which weighs 150,000 pounds without water, will be the biggest aquarium in a nightlife venue in the world — second only to tanks at museum-grade aquariums.
"I think this is the most creative project we've ever done. Period," Karpaty said. "It's revolutionary stuff."
The developers also have been talking with potential tenants for 1012 K St., but it's too early to discuss, Warner said.
A $5.7 million city subsidy for the properties still rankles some business owners. Karpaty stressed earlier this week that all the money did not go to his project or the building. City staff did not answer questions Friday seeking clarification.
A little more than $3 million is going toward shell and core improvements for both buildings, the one from 1016 to 1022 K Street and the one at 1012 K St. The remainder — more than $2 million — will go to future tenants of 1012 K St. for tenant improvements, Warner said.
The cost of tenant improvements for Karpaty's project are being shared by Taylor and Karpaty, she added. Karpaty said he's paid $2 million to date.
With city money being used to bring buildings up to code and ready to lease, the developers could have more money to help tenants pay for interior improvements specific to its new use.
The roughly 30,000-square foot building at 1012 K St. sits between Karpaty's future entertainment complex and The Cosmopolitan, which was opened without city subsidies in fall 2008 by longtime Sacramento restaurateur Randy Paragary and partners.
The property transfer was part of a 2008 Sheraton Hotel deal. The city agreed to split $50 million in profits from the sale of the $130 million hotel with Taylor and CIM for development in the J, K and L streets corridor.
Karpaty said he didn't want to divulge too much about the venues yet. But he did explain why he changed the dance club's name from Frisky Rhythm to District 30.
"I love the name Frisky Rhythm. I picked it. I'm going to build a bar called Frisky Rhythm — just not here," he said. "It did not receive positive feedback from people I was meeting with in Sacramento. So being a good project developer, I listened. We made a change."
Karpaty said he plans to organize shows and dancing at other venues in Sacramento, including the Memorial Auditorium and the Sacramento Convention Center. He added that he plans to put on five to seven grand-opening events for his K Street venues, with entertainment including stilt performers and contortionists.
"We're going to put on a big show," he said.
Suzanne Hurt covers business and development for The Sacramento Press.