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Before R Street Market Plaza Development: A Photo Essay

Vacant buildings line this stretch of R Street between 16th and 18th streets, poised to become R Street Market Plaza.

The city of Sacramento and Capitol Area Development Authority (CADA) are working on the R Street Corridor Project – an effort to turn a 27-block-long stretch of R Street into a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood.

A two-block section of R Street from 16th to 18th streets will hold the project’s centerpiece, the R Street Market Plaza. Elements of the historic rail corridor and industrial warehouse district have inspired its design, which is expected to be completed in early June.

The public project is intended to spur private development — creating more businesses, housing, services and jobs along the corridor. California state agencies now occupy some of R Street.

The project has been designed to increase R Street’s livability with a plaza that will be constructed to hold sidewalk cafes, festivals, farmers’ markets and other special events.

Below are photos of this stretch of R Street before streetscape construction and redevelopment of the buildings begin.

The Crystal Ice and Cold Storage facility built in 1920 is now a lime-green building at 16th and R streets. Crystal Ice was once the city’s primary ice supplier. Additions were made until 1950.

Developer Mark Friedman of Fulcrum Properties is developing plans for a section he has dubbed the “Ice Blocks.” He plans to preserve the exterior of the oldest Crystal Ice building at 16th Street, which is a historic landmark. The development is expected to include retail, residential and office space.

A sign on an old Crystal Ice building reads, “JUST WHAT MIDTOWN HAS BEEN WAITING FOR.” The official address is 1812 17th St.

The old buildings are popular for professional photo shoots and hobbyists with cameras.

“This area is off the hook,” said R.C., a state employee who lives two blocks away and asked that his last name not be used. “You just don’t see this anymore.”

In the mid-1850s, R Street contained tracks for the Sacramento Valley Railroad — the stateʼs first railway. Mainline railroad tracks will be kept in place to maintain R Street’s historic integrity and reflect its heritage.

The street later morphed into a warehouse district. Loading docks are still visible at warehouses that once helped form the areaʼs spine.

An empty lot sits on the north side of R Street between 16th and 17th streets. Plans call for the lot to be turned into a parking garage. A-1 Plating Co. and Tom and Toby’s Automotive Clinic once operated there.

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A Sacramento Kings billboard was installed on 16th Street on a fence surrounding a vacant lot.

Local residents and state employees use the street to get to and from a Safeway grocery store and restaurants at R Street Marketplace, built by developer Paul Petrovich at 19th and R streets.

“The ants go back and forth from the sugar to the anthill – that’s what this is,” said R.C., a state employee returning from the shopping center.

The Orchard Supply Co. warehouse at 1731 17th St.

With its metal awning, the warehouse at 1831 17th St. is known for great acoustics. Local musicians who play saxophones and trumpets can sometimes be spotted there.

“The sound just ricochets off the walls,” said local resident Ron Johnson, 67.

Local resident Ron Johnson first lived in the area in the 1960s and returned after spending some years in the Bay Area.
R Street at the intersection with 17th Street, looking east toward R Street Marketplace.
Crystal Ice Co. building, 1800 18th St.

All the buildings in the two-block stretch are vacant. But space outside the buildings is used for parking.

A woman walks down an alley between 17th and 18th streets.

Graffiti has been painted on the vacant buildings. Much has been painted over, but not graffiti up on the roof of the tallest Crystal Ice Co. building at 16th and R streets.

One side of the Crystal Ice Cold and Storage building fronts an alley between 16th and 17th streets.

Construction on the $3.8 million plaza project could start as soon as spring or summer 2012. The city and CADA will apply for construction funding through the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. SACOG is expected to review the request in November. Streetscape upgrades began on R Street from 10th to 13th streets last fall.

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