R Street is about to get a little more pedestrian-and-bike friendly. The blocks between 16th and 18th Streets are seeing the start of Phase 2 construction of the R Street Improvement Project. This phase of a 3-phase streetscape improvement promises wide urban sidewalks complete with outdoor furnishings, tree canopies, improved storm drainage and roads, and historic detailing in street lights and sections of cobblestone pavement.
The idea behind turning the dilapidated streets leading up to the Safeway-anchored R Street Market into something almost-plaza-like is to provide a safe and attractive section of R Street that boosts interest in the neighborhood and the surrounding vacant historic buildings for commercial and retail uses.
The wide sidewalks are also designed to be easily closed off for festival and community events such as farmers markets, street fairs, and art shows.
“We see a lot of traffic to that Safeway and the R Street Market,” said Todd Leon, R Street Development Manger for CADA, who is constructing the project. “So the goal is to connect the neighborhood in a more safe and pleasurable way from their businesses, their homes, and their transportation hubs to the R Street Market.”
While Phase 2 focuses on the Market section of the R Street corridor, the entire project will improve the streetscape from 10th to 18th Streets. Besides providing safer roads, the hopes for the overall project is to encourage private investment, which when the public sector, Leon says, is willing to invest in improving an area, it goes a long way in inspiriting the private sector.
“The R Street Corridor is a special district within the city of Sacramento and for the longest time it’s been ignored for infrastructure improvements–for 100 years for the most part,” said Leon. “So developers react, investors react when the public sector invests in an area…because now they don’t have to come in and pay for roadways and sidewalks.”
Indeed the private sector has already begun making plans for 16th-18th blocks, which is the most run down section of Sacramento’s former railroad and industrial hub. Local developer Mike Heller is partnering with property owner Mark Friedman to transform the street’s vacant buildings into a lively shopping, restaurant, business, and residential locale.
CADA’s contribution to that goal is to create the safe and visually-appealing infrastructure to help make that happen.
“We want it to look very industrial, very urban,” Leon said of Phase 2’s visual aim.
Expect detours if you’re in the area as the roads between 16th and 18th will be closed throughout the duration Phase 2, which should be completed in June 2015.
For great pre-improvement shots of R Street, check out our 2011 article with photos of the street before construction began.
More information on the R Street project and the exciting future of the R Street Corridor can be found at rstreet.info.
Artistic renderings courtesy of HLA Group