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3 underutilized state buildings in downtown Sacramento to be turned into housing

Major changes on the way for Capitol Mall
Major changes on the way for Capitol Mall 02:39

SACRAMENTO - Three underutilized state office buildings in downtown Sacramento will be turned into housing.

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced Tuesday that the Employment Development Department (EDD) headquarters, EDD Solar Building, and the State Personnel Board building will be converted into nearly 400 one, two, and three-bedroom apartments.

It's a solution to the problem created by the enormous empty buildings. The buildings are located at the following sites:

  • EDD headquarters - 800 Capitol Mall
  • EDD Solar Building - 751 N Street
  • State Personnel Board Building - 801 Capitol Mall

A 2020 state-commissioned study of the buildings found that they could be converted. 

"This is exciting news for the downtown area," said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. "Transitioning the EDD buildings into housing is just the beginning of helping residents find affordable places to live and repopulate the area. I look forward to seeing these types of vacant buildings make the transition and help Downtown Sacramento once again become a vibrant hub."

On January 31, the Department of General Services began accepting requests for qualifications from developers who may want to take part in the project. 

McCarthy's office says the project was made possible through Adaptive Reuse legislation, AB 2592, which was authored by McCarthy and subsequently signed into law by Governor Newsom in September. The bill directed the Department of General Services to create a plan to convert the underutilized state buildings into housing.

Downtown restaurant owner John Vignocci, the owner of Naija Boy Tacos, likes it, especially post-pandemic with state workers still choosing to work from home.

"Let's rip the band-aid off, and let's try to stuff as much housing and as many people downtown because I think that will really revitalize the whole downtown core," Vignocci said.

It's not so far-fetched.

Chris Lango is a Sacramento historian. He showed photos of what used to be in the same place at the EDD building: housing. 

"[At] 9th and Capitol, an apartment building called 'The Wallis,' " Lango said.

The Wallis was demolished to build up what later became known as The Capitol Mall Project, replacing the West End, and the city's workforce, with state buildings that redeveloped the "Gateway of Sacramento."

"Part of the battles that were fought during that time involved buildings versus people, and the buildings won," Lango said.

Now, there's this new effort to bring people back downtown.

"Imagine what this could look like in five years," Steinberg said. 

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