(Street) cars Return To Sacramento—November 12th

Streetcars Return To Sacramento!!!

On November 12, 2011 Downtown Sacramento will see the return of a beloved classic–the clanging streetcar!

When I was young we had a number of heavy rail lines pushing through Sacramento from North to South and East to West, plus a couple of rail yards including the big one downtown which is finally being refurbished for a mix of housing, retail and a transportation hub.

Not many cities still have their streetcars and only a few have installed new streetcar lines.

I applaud our city leaders on this decision and I am happy to finally see the date nearly here. 

And on Saturday we will have streetcars running downtown again!

Here is a pic of the old streetcar:

The photo above is from the 1940s.  Look at the streetcars lined up.  Three of them!  And a motorcycle too, amazing.

So,on November12th a chunk of the former K Street Mall will be opened up to automobiles, and one day (soon) we will have real Streetcars returning to downtown Sacramento.  That is so cool!!

The return of vehicles to the former pedestrian mall begins at 4 p.m. with a  ceremony at 12th and K streets. Downtown Sacramento Partnership reports that  entertainment after the ceremony continues into the night with DJ 7evin spinning  sounds and performances by rockers Smirkers, Mariachi Latino, 80s cover band  Spazmatics and the Sizzling Sirens Burlesque Experience dance troupe.

There will be some good “olden days” deals too, like I-Max movies for $2.50, free kids meals at Tequila Museo Mayahuel, 89 cent ice cream at Rite-Aid and you can ice skate outdoors at the Downtown Ice Rink, plus Happy Hours at Ellas Dining Room and at Marilyn’s plus drink specials and special pricing on menus at a number of restaurants on the K Street mall area.

This will be fun and having the streetcars return is excellent!

Outdoor Ice Skating 2011:

The Downtown Ice Rink is open again!!! 

 Some 20 great photos are at the above link, check them out.

After the demise of our handsome streetcars and the loss of our heavy rail and the thousands of well-paying jobs that went with it, now we have a handful of light rail lines and promises of many more.

We really screwed up our downtown area back in the 1960s and 70s thinking we were making good plans for the “future”.  Such bad City planning.  We were not alone.

I won’t go into all of it here but we blocked off streets to traffic on what then was our shopping “hub”, killed off downtown retail.  We constructed concrete monsters on our primary downtown street, “K” Street.  Why would you build 20 foot tall concrete blocks on a city street and think anyone would look at white/gray concrete and exclaim it “Beautiful”?

People are beginning to make good decisions:

  • tear down the concrete monoliths
  • open up a part of K Street to automobile traffic

I think pedestrian walkways are a great idea for downtowns.  But they need must be well-planned and beautifully thought-out.  People need grass and trees and flowers.  Not concrete and more concrete. 

And cars do need to get thru.  Downtowns are work areas as well as (hopefully) areas to live and play.  We need to accommodate all of those competing activities.

Read the latest on what Sacramento is doing HERE

Forty years after the city kicked cars off K Street, crews are busy this week  paving the way for their return.

The $3 million, four-block street remake downtown started two weeks ago and  is expected to be done by mid-November. Officials said the goal is to get more  eyes and energy on the street to improve business.”

We have to evict the landlord over our downtown mall and get someone in there that means business.  A landlord that can manage and support the property but also has an eye on the future.  That is constantly attracting and keeping quality tenants with a mix of goods & services for people.

And, in Sacramento, a landlord that can build a relationship with the owners and developers of our rail area which will give some measure of competition for downtown, but could also become a good neighbor.  Those conversations must start now.

For now, a big chunk of K Street redevelopment has stalled due to a lawsuit that must be settled in favor of the City & the developer.  This has gone on far too long.

Earlier this year, the city tapped a team headed by (developer David Taylor) to remake the 800  block of K Street, in a move to add more than 130 residential units and 32,000  square feet of retail space to an area that’s been an urban eyesore for  years.

But the period during which the Taylor group had exclusive right to negotiate  a development deal lapsed last month.    

    City officials say they can’t restart talks until litigation over the  state’s attempt to overhaul redevelopment agencies is resolved.”

Read the article at the link above, and…

…Get going Sacramento.  That clock is ticking on our ass.

We do have new downtown developmentover on 8th and I Streets in the long-shuttered Bank of America building.

No need to “Occupy” B of A in that spot, Sports Basement a Bay Area sports retailer, will open a three-story sports emporium in that spot.

“”Awesome, awesome, awesome,” said Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, one of several groups that have been  working for the past year to bring the company here.

    “It’s an opportunity to have a signature destination project downtown,”  he said.”

This is a big deal and will bring needed new business into downtown.  It also helps the coffers of Sacramento County who has owned the building for a number of years.  The County Sheriff was located in the building after BofA vacated the space.

There are currently two Sports Basement outlets in San Francisco, one in Walnut Creek and one in Sunnyvale.  The Sacramento store will house some 70,000 square feet selling “camping, hiking and snow gear as well as equipment and clothing for runners,  cyclists and others sports enthusiasts, at discounted prices.”

More at the link above.

November 13th:

Yesterday cars returned to that portion of K Street in like, forever!!

It is a good step and City leaders hope that prosperity follows.  A lot of otherthings need to change and improve and the economic doldrums don’t help.

But yesterday there were happy crowds, cheap prices along the mall, and for the first time in 42 years (!!!) there were automobiles.

“While many storefronts on the street remain vacant, new bars, shops and  restaurants have opened within the past year and a massive redevelopment project  for nearly the entire 700 block of the street is planned. The recent relocation  of the Greyhound bus station from L Street to Richards Boulevard north of  downtown was considered another key development.”

And, this evening, the Crest Thester looked magnificent and you could drive past it and look at that beautiful neon!!

And the downtown streetcars return in the flesh soon.  The plans were shown to the public and the plans and routes are found HERE