With the long-awaited Warehouse Artist Lofts project at 11th and R bringing a significant residential element to the street for the first time, slow-to-realize vision for a transit-oriented, mixed-use development district with an arts-and-culture focus is now on the fast track to fruition. Infrastructure improvements spearheaded by CADA have attracted private investment, sparked public interest and helped overcome obstacles that for decades kept forward-thinking plans on hold. Already the district is emerging as one of the city’s trendiest, drawing a predominantly young crowd to the restaurants and nightclubs that have sprung up amid the street’s patchwork of historic brick buildings, vacant warehouses, commercial buildings, government offices and empty lots.
R Street’s gritty patina dates to its origins as a corridor for the Sacramento Valley Railroad, which began operating between Sacramento’s Front Street and Old Town Folsom in 1856. The warehouse district that sprung up around the tracks bustled for more than a century before lapsing into decline in the 1950s and ‘60s. Alternative visions for the future – a dense commercial district vs. a mixed-use, transitional neighborhood tying together the downtown core to the north and residential neighborhoods to the south – were debated for many years. The transitional direction eventually prevailed and the R Street Corridor Master Plan was adopted in 1996., CADA stepped up as a major advocate, stakeholder, and implemented the R Street Corridor vision between 10 and 19th Streets..
For the past 15 years, CADA has worked to identify development needs, obtain financing and install infrastructure upgrades up and down the corridor. The central city’s only full service grocery store, a Safeway on 19th Street, opened in 2005, with housing, locally owned restaurants and clubs in the 1400 block of R making their debut soon after. Down the street, the block between 10th and 11th streets, long occupied by the Fox & Goose Public House and associated businesses, was “branded” in 2012 with a decorative arch and public art work serving as a district gateway.
The year 2013 brings the most ambitious project yet with the $41 million transformation of a historic six-story, warehouse formally owned by CADA and the State of California into the Warehouse Artist Lofts, a mixed-income community focused on artist housing and also including 13,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. The former state Buildings and Grounds building next door, also formerly owned by CADA, is being developed to include a ground-floor restaurant and two floors of open commercial space. The eventual vision for R Street between 10th and 18th streets calls for an esplanade lined with lofts, galleries, restaurants and nightclubs, along with streetscape elements imparting a unique, stand-alone identity.