Investors Planning ‘Foodie’ Community

By Bob Shallit
The Sacramento Bee

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Investors in Sacramento are creating a mixed use “foodie” community. The developers are designing (the apartments) for foodies, with culinary kitchens and space for growing food and community space where residents can share food.

The Sacramento Bee

An investment group is planning a mixed-use “foodie” community, with an upscale restaurant and as many as 16 apartment units, along Sacramento’s resurgent Broadway corridor.

Plans call for a new dining spot and bar in the historic 7,000-square-foot building, now a Pho Bac Hoa Viet restaurant, at the northwest corner of 19th Street and Broadway, and a three-level apartment complex to be built in a parking lot just north of the restaurant, said Andrew Skanchy, a local attorney who is part of a new partnership called Trondheim Properties.

“We’re designing (the apartments) for foodies, with culinary kitchens and space for growing food and community space where residents can share food,” said Skanchy, an environmental and land-use attorney with Best, Best & Krieger.

Construction of the multimillion-dollar apartment project could begin in about a year, said Skanchy, who is partnering with his brother Ned, and Tom Henriod, both Utah real estate investors and managers. They acquired the property in June for $1.55 million.

The partners already have begun looking for a “farm-to-fork” restaurant operator for the existing building.

It’s possible that Pho Bac could stay there after its lease expires in nine months, Skanchy said. But he said it’s more likely the ownership group will bring in a more ambitious operator “who appreciates Broadway and recognizes the potential here.”

The investors haven’t decided yet on the type of restaurant they would like at the site, but Skanchy said it could be inspired by concepts in Los Angeles and Utah, including the Versailles Cuban restaurant chain in Los Angeles, Fritto Misto Italian Cafe in Santa Monica, and Caputo’s, a deli and market in Salt Lake City.

“We want it to be a gathering place for the community,” he said, drawing residents from the nearby Land Park and Curtis Park neighborhoods.

As for the apartment complex, Skanchy said units will range from about 400 to 1,400 square feet and benefit from proximity to the Broadway light-rail station. Architectural plans call for an elevated patio on the building’s second level, above a vehicle access lane, where residents can plant gardens and mingle.

Skanchy, who moved to Sacramento six years ago and lives in Land Park, said he was immediately impressed by the potential for retail growth on Broadway and baffled because it wasn’t happening more quickly.

“With great neighborhoods around it, I thought, ‘Why isn’t it cooler?’ ” he said.

He and his partners said they opted to move forward with their plans after seeing redevelopment get underway in the Tower District, the swath of Broadway near Tower Theater and Tower Cafe.

Among the signs of progress they noted: construction of a Selland’s Market-Cafe at 915 Broadway, housing development at the Mill project on Fifth Street and the resurrection of decade-old plans for a mixed-use housing/retail/commercial project at Fourth and Broadway distinguished by 10-foot-high letters spelling “Broadway” on one building top.

Also encouraging the partners are still-developing plans by the Sutter Capital Group for a retail use at the long-vacant building across the street from Pho Bac at the northeast corner of 19th and Broadway.

“We feel like there’s a lot of momentum now with Broadway and that the neighborhood would embrace some changes” at the Pho Bac location, he said.

Skanchy said he thinks Broadway can become Sacramento’s “restaurant row” — a place that draws the area’s top dining entrepreneurs. “If Sacramento is the farm-to-fork capital,” he said, “then Broadway … is positioned to be the city’s farm-to-fork restaurant corridor.”

The Pho Bac building includes a 4,000-square-foot restaurant space and an adjoining 3,000-square-foot bar. Both have rich histories.

The building was constructed with a French design theme in 1929 and served for many years as a grocery store called Le Marché.

In 1956, it became the home of Sam’s Original Ranch Wagon, one of a half-dozen or so local restaurants — including Sam’s Hof Brau — opened by legendary restaurateur Sam Gordon.

The Broadway restaurant space still has some original “Sam’s” touches, including exposed ceiling beams and large porthole-like windows that once were filled with wagon wheels as part of the place’s Old West theme.

A photo from 1961 shows the restaurant’s Bonanza Room as the setting for a news conference where Gordon presented the New York Yankees’ Roger Maris with the ball Maris hit out of the park for his record-breaking 61st home run that year.

Gordon had paid $5,000 to acquire the ball from the fan who caught it, and Maris later donated it to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The bar section of the building was for many years a top local destination for jazz called On Broadway Cafe.

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