Saturday, December 09, 2006

Alkali Flats Gets Room to Grow

One of the most charming and accessible areas of the old downtown area gets a lot more room to grow with the pending sale of the Crystal Cream company plant, another sign of the continuing urbanization of the city core.

Bob Shallit: Crystal Cream complex for sale
Alkali Flat landmark seen as likely candidate for new housing.

- Published 12:00 am PST Saturday, December 9, 2006

One of the area's largest and oldest companies is looking to unload the downtown Sacramento property where it operated for nearly a century.

For sale is Crystal Cream & Butter Co.'s former manufacturing site, covering parts of several blocks in the Alkali Flat area.

The company -- with 340 employees and annual sales of $130 million -- moved most of its operations over to the Power Inn Road area a decade ago and no longer needs its downtown property around 10th and D streets that it first occupied in 1912, says company President Mike Newell.

Likely buyers? Developers who would raze the buildings and replace them with a mixed-use project that almost certainly would include some housing, Newell says.

"We want to see somebody create some excitement in that area and add to the neighborhood," he says.

Several developers have expressed interest and are in talks with Crystal's brokerage firm, Brown Stevens Elmore & Sparre. But no deal appears imminent.

We figure the likely price is in the $11 million to $14 million range.

The Crystal property, totaling more than 357,000 square feet, is located in a historic industrial area now in transition. Just to the east, for example, a retail and residential project is under construction at the site of the former Globe Mills flour mill, built in 1913. A Signature Properties housing project is being built a bit farther east.

Councilman Ray Tretheway, whose district includes the Crystal site, says the sale is a "wonderful opportunity" for the city's oldest residential neighborhood to gain some additional housing.

He adds: "The residents of Alkali Flat won't miss the (delivery) trucks."