R Street Project Would be a Welcome Addition to Sacramento

rstreet1Many of us remember how … well … gross and desolate the R Street Corridor used to be.

You’d go to Fox & Goose for breakfast or R15 for NFL Sunday, but it felt too disconnected to spend a significant amount of time in the area.

Nowadays, it’s starting to feel like a true neighborhood. The emergence of places like Magpie and Shoki better connect Tuli Bistro, Fox & Goose, Shady Lady and R15 into a real corridor (with its own unique personality) that’s a now a favorite spot for everything from brunch to GNO. And let’s also not forget about all the new art and cultural options.

Luckily for us, they have more plans to save and rehab more old, industrial spaces into mixed-housing, retail and art galleries. According to the Business Journal, “the city’s vision for R Street is to provide a transition between state offices and residential neighborhoods to the south. Densities there will be greater than the residential neighborhoods but less than the region around the Capitol.”

So GOTG cheered when we heard that local investors and entrepreneurs want to turn the Fred Rader Mill Supply Warehouse (R and 26th Street) into a mixed-use project. This isn’t your typical commercial complex – according to the Bee, they want to create an innovative space that will hold a winery; multiple brewing (TWO RIVERS CIDER!!) operations and tasting room; web development firm; and space for several more small businesses.

So What’s The Problem?

A group of neighbors have taken issue with the project:

“One woman – acting on behalf of her neighbors – has appealed the city Planning Commission’s approval of the project. As a result, the proposal will be heard by the full City Council next month. Another group of neighbors has filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court, charging that the city did not address environmental concerns raised by the project. The group – which has dubbed itself Citizens Against Alcohol Manufacturing in Midtown – said the brewery would give off unpleasant odors that would be smelled by children at a nearby preschool and adversely impact traffic, noise and water quality.” (Source)

A few things to keep in mind …

  • Re: the appeal, the land is zoned for mixed-use and the developers are trying to work with the neighbors by having earlier closing hours and building a “sound wall” around the patio.
  • Re: the lawsuit, the Sacramento Metro Air Quality Management District estimated that the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emitted from the brewery would be less than the threshold making the kettles exempt from the permit requirement. In fact, they also revealed that, to date, they haven’t issuedany “Notices of Violation” for brewing operations. 
  • This space is currently an unused and blighted warehouse that’s less than two blocks from the Actor’s Workshop/Capitol Stage and only four blocks from Temple Coffee/Revolution Wines. Take a look at what the parcel (Fred Rader Mill Supply Warehouse) currently looks like.

We can do better.

So with that in mind…

Our Take:

AMY – Sacramento’s growing up and that always results in growing pains. I support the R Street development because in order to reach our full potential, we need small businesses revitalizing blighted or rundown areas that bring much-needed sales tax revenue and jobs. I live around the corner from a really popular restaurant and tap room, and while sometimes the parking on my street can be problematic, I’m happy the owners are doing so well. Midtown isn’t a quiet place, and it’s the price you pay for living there!

CHELSEA – When I read about the R Street project, I was pumped! One of my BFF’s lives on R Street near Southside Park, and I live in the ‘Triangle, making R/S/T Streets the yellow brick road from one house to the other. But clearly, empty buildings don’t make for the safest travel from one casa to the other, so we most often take the T Street route, choosing to wait to cut across until we are near R15. I don’t have to tell you how many times that means we stop on the R14/15 block to grab cocktails and a bite. Business is booming on that side of the corridor. The idea of a new brewery, winery and small-business-friendly building is just what this part of RStreet needs! Yes, it is residential, but YES we (the patrons of such establishments) are adults and 95% of us know how to act accordingly. Sure, there may be more noise than there is now, but an empty building makes for a pretty quiet neighbor. But from what we’ve learned, the future establishments are making every effort to gracefully enter the neighborhood, follow the rules and do what they can to improve an area that is screaming for a makeover. I appreciate the concerns of those living in the neighborhood, but perhaps we should be making every effort to welcome businesses to the Grid, rather than assuming the worst. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be very happy with another great spot to relax in the afternoons and enjoy what midtown has to offer. And I’m not angry at the increase in my property value, either.  #SorryImNotSorry

KATIE MATTESICH – I have been hearing these same stories as of late in Sacramento. And it’s getting old. Midtown residents who strongly oppose local development projects, particularly the ones that will draw a “young and social” crowd. AKA proposals for bars and late-night restaurants. Here is what sets this project apart… The potential owners have already agreed to close the brewery and tasting room at 8 p.m., build a sound barrier to absorb sound from the patio as to not bother neighbors, and install exhaust scrubbers to combat the smell of the brewery. If you ask me, that is a great compromise. That is the sign of business owners being respectful of midtown residents while still pushing for progress in midtown. This project needs to happen. Let’s work together in creating a vision for a forward-thinking city that attracts young professionals to our community. (Katie is a guest blogger, local attorney and with the Sacramento chapter of Reason to Party.)

LAURA – This looks like an unfortunate case of knee-jerk NIMBY. Urban density + historic preservation + modern amenities + local businesses = an even better quality of life that will attract even more young professionals, families and empty nesters to the big town/small city charm of Sacramento. And to be fair to the neighbors, show me anyone that lives in Midtown who doesn’t have a story about idiots loudly (and rudely) waking them up at 2:00am. Those of us who play on the grid (regardless of where you live/work) can all do a better job of being respectful to the neighbors that live within steps of our favorite establishments. If we did, maybe some wouldn’t be so quick to oppose  any alcohol-related development in their backyards.

VERNA SULPIZIO – In order for Sacramento to retain a creative and innovative work force, we not only need to focus on cultivating jobs in the region, we need to focus on cultivating unique amenities (AKA cool things to do) as well. The R Street Corridor has made leaps and bounds in recent years and the development on R & 26 Street continues the positive momentum. This innovative mixed-used project not only gives residents a great place to gather, but its offering of “less-than-typical midtown rent” could allow local entrepreneurs to get a jump start on their business plan. This project truly is a win-win scenario that will create jobs and grow our list of “cool things to do” at the same time. Additionally, I used to live right next door to this building. This development is going to be a great additional to a neighborhood lacking in quality activities and gathering spots. I wish I still lived there! (Verna is a guest blogger and Vice-Chair of the Sacramento Urban Land Institute Young Leaders Group.)

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