New hotel and residential project to rise next to Tower Bridge
The Sacramento waterfront is about to get a big boost from some familiar names with deep local roots.
Good things come to those who wait, they say, and it looks like West Sacramento’s most desirable vacant lot—the square of property along the Tower Bridge Gateway that abuts the Ziggurat building, the River Walk, and the foot of the Tower Bridge, right across from Old Sacramento’s waterfront—is getting a splashy new mixed-use development that will boast retail and dining, 57 private residences, and a chic, 197-room boutique hotel, all designed to elevate and enhance the city’s connection to the waterfront. Design elements under consideration include an elevated restaurant with a view of the river and downtown Sacramento, and a marina or dock facility that could feature a water taxi.
Fulcrum Property, which developed The Park Moderns, the Habitat Apartments, the Barn and other projects in the growing Bridge District (bordered by the Tower Bridge to the East and Highway 50 to the West), is developing the property, which is owned in part by the Teel Family Trust and Raley’s Inc., as well as by Fulcrum owner Mark Friedman.
The development, breaking ground this fall and scheduled to be completed in 2022, fulfills a long-held vision for the West Sacramento waterfront according to Raley’s majority owner Mike Teel, whose grandfather Tom Raley founded the supermarket chain in 1935. “As long as I can remember my grandpa loved to dabble in hotels,” Teel says. “He managed to acquire the land between the two bridges, and he always had a vision for putting a five-star hotel there, with a Trader Vic's at the bottom of it—because that was his favorite restaurant in San Francisco. He spent a lot of money with architects and designers, but it was way before its time.”
The family sold off many of the waterfront parcels—including a chunk that went to Friedman—but led the way toward the waterfront’s current revitalization by developing the Ziggurat, the CalSTRS building, the Capitol Yards Apartment and the River Walk north of the Tower Bridge, which along with River One comprise a group of properties collectively known as Raley’s Landing. When Teel assumed majority ownership of the company in 2015, he was keen on fulfilling his grandfather’s vision. “I know nothing about land development, but I know Mark Friedman has an eye for doing great projects,” Teel says, “so he's carrying the ball.”
In an interesting twist, Friedman brought in SB Architects, a firm that specializes in designing high-end resort properties like Heavenly Ski Resort in South Tahoe and The Lodge at Pebble Beach. The firm also designed San Jose’s inventive outdoor shopping mall, Santana Row, which creatively breaks up the monotony of Silicon Valley’s signature sprawl with a design that feels like an urban streetscape. Friedman hopes SB will bring that kind of outside-the-shoebox thinking to the new project, describing the site as unique to the area.
“The site presents just an amazing opportunity for waterfront condominium living,” he says. “We have been building toward that in the Bridge District, but we've been waiting for the opportunity to construct the taller buildings that we think the water's edge deserves. This site seems like the best place to bring that opportunity forward. What's incredible about it is that it has a terrific view of one of the most iconic structures in our region—the Tower Bridge—and an intimate look into Old Sacramento with the city skyline beyond. You’ve got the benefit of being literally at the doorstep of the city, but right at the water's edge, directly connected to nature. I can't think of many other places where that's possible.”
The project, Friedman says, will consist of “two ‘L’ shaped buildings that together form a protected oasis that faces the water's edge.” One building will house the residences, the other the hotel, and while Friedman isn’t ready to share all the details on the seven-story project, he says that the design brief presents some challenges that are as unique as the site. “We're trying to find that right balance between creating a moment of calm, a moment of Zen,” he says, “but also participating in the life of the city. And that's a really interesting challenge.”
The big picture, Friedman says, is that additional waterfront engagement from River One will bring the urban core that much closer to an important tipping point. “What you can begin to imagine pretty soon is one of those New York Times pieces, ‘36 Hours in Sacramento,’ " he says, “where you really could have people just go up and down the river. You might bicycle to the Crocker in the morning, go across the river to the Barn for lunch, then cycle down to the new science museum on the other side of the water.”
For Teel, whose offices at Raley’s headquarters are only a couple of blocks away, the breathtaking views are second only to the vision. “It'll be the missing piece to my grandfather's legacy that I will be able to make happen,” Teel says. “And that will give me and my family great pleasure.”