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West Sacramento News-Ledger

Decades-Long Development Continues

Jul 03, 2024 03:58PM ● By Angela Underwood

An aerial view of the portion of the Grand Gateway Development shows the large region in development continuously approved by elected officials for almost 30 years. Photo courtesy of the City of West Sacramento

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - They call it grand for a reason.

Nearly three decades in the making, the Grand Gateway Master Plan is a walkable, mixed-use destination that ties together the Bridge District, Washington District and West Capitol Avenue, the central business corridor.

Since acquiring the property in the early 1990s, beginning with the acquisition of nuisance and blighted uses, Economic Development and Housing Project Manager Mark Polhemus said West Sacramento has strategically redesigned surrounding roadways to create additional developable land from former State Route 275 right-of-way.

"In 2013, the city has secured state and local grants to further the city's vision for the project area," Polhemus said.

Along with "conducted design, planning and entitlement activities and constructed pedestrian, cycling, transit and parking improvements," the vision supported the development of 137 affordable housing units for West Gateway Place Phase 1 and 2.

Funds also made it possible to acquire the Old Town Inn and Rodeway Inn sites to provide interim supportive emergency housing services for residents experiencing homelessness. 

"Over time, the Grand Gateway Development area has expanded, providing the opportunity for a larger development with a greater range of opportunities," Polhemus said.

Grand Gateway Development

 Here is an artistic rendering of the mixed-use Grand Gateway Development in the making since the early 1990s. Photo courtesy of the City of West Sacramento

According to Polhemus, West Sacramento is using state grant funding to update Grand Gateway's planning and design policies to reflect current physical and policy conditions.

"This work will enable the city to streamline the development approval process so future developers can plan and build the site efficiently," he said.

In the "grand" scheme, the development will include a mix of income-restricted affordable and market-rate units.

"This will be in addition to 137 affordable units currently existing or under construction in the West Gateway Place apartment developments, located on Tower Bridge Gateway," Polhemus said. "The city anticipates the development team to add over 400 total units, with 25 percent of those designated as affordable, with rent limits set at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income."

The project manager said the high-quality units with income-based rents reflect the city's commitment to producing affordable and market-rate housing adjacent to job centers and high-quality public amenities, including the River Walk and expanding trails network.

"In this development area alone, the city has leveraged local funds to secure millions of dollars of state and regional grant funds to improve pedestrian, bicycling, and transit facilities and contribute towards the West Gateway Place affordable units," Polhemus said.

It's not just about the housing; streets constitute a significant part of the region.

"We're continuously pursuing grants to improve our street network to remove barriers to alternative transportation modes, like walking or cycling," Polhemus said. "Together, our housing and transportation network investments result in a more sustainable and equitable community."

What makes the project unique is a new hotel.

"It will benefit from the growing list of regional, statewide and national attractions happening in the Greater Sacramento core, such as sporting and entertainment events at Sutter Health Park and the Golden1 Center, the Farm-to-Fork Festival, Ironman and more," Polhemus said.

Another feature that makes the development even more grandiose is SKK Development's eye for art.

"They are integrating public art and destination features into this project and expand on the city's public art strategy and investments in the surrounding Bridge District and Washington District neighborhoods," Polhemus said of the developer who created the Mansion Apartments and the Press @ Midtown Quarter.

"UrbanCore Development, the project's affordable housing developer, also has a strong portfolio of high-density urban developments in Sacramento and the Bay Area," Polhemus said. "Locally, they've developed the 180-unit Cannery Place and 118-unit Eviva Midtown projects in Sacramento."

Among all the Grand Gateway Development construction over the years, what remains the same is the commitment of numerous City Council bodies to the long-term vision.

"These kinds of projects take a long time to materialize. We've acquired and cleaned up these properties to make them suitable for residential and experiential uses," Polhemus said. "This site is an amazing opportunity for the city to expand the investments and developments happening in the Bridge and Washington Districts to West Capitol Avenue, which we hope will continue."

community gardens

 Community gardens are among many features in the mixed-use, affordable housing development. Photo courtesy of the City of West Sacramento