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Downtown dreams: Housing and the arena

K Street

As Nick Miller points out in this week’s SNR, “These are new times for K Street.”

“The Kay,” as it was rebranded last year, can boast an upswing in patrons at local restaurants, an active nightlife, public murals, the return of The Crest’s iconic neon sign – and perhaps a new arena is around the corner (if Macy’s and the King’s ownership can strike a deal or time. Yesterday, the talks entered "hardball status: the King’s ownership said they may ask the city to threaten to use eminent domain to seize the last remming parcel needed for the arena.)

In addition to the arena, CFY Development, led by Ali Youssefi, has a $48 million project in the cooker to transform the 700 block of K Street.

The overall strategy mirrors a 1969 attempt to revitalize the area, detailed in William Burg’s book Sacramento’s K Street – when the city used redevelopment funds to turn the area into “K Street Mall.”

“But K Street could not overcome the basic problems of a downtown shopping district in the era of suburban malls,” writes Burg.

Burg feels it’s not an arena that will make this recent spike in activity (and revenue) sustainable. Without funding for more housing, Burg feels the plan will flop. Right now, the downtown population is almost down to half what it was in the 1950s, as Burg explained in post earlier this year on Sac Press.  

Youssefi’s project will include 137 units of mixed-income housing – a drop in the bucket relative to what’s needed to make revitalization feasible, according to Burg. And there is no promise of city help with that in the arena plan.

“The city just assumes people will build housing,” Burg told SNR. “But if it was a priority, it would be included.”

Well, what do you think? Is “The Kay” on the rise, or will Sacramento end up footing the bill on another pipe dream?


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