With its light rail stops and proximity to downtown Sacramento, Del Paso Boulevard has long been considered an area ripe for redevelopment.
“So how do we get there?” asked Daniel Savala, a consultant for the Del Paso Boulevard Partnership, a group that provides the business district with public safety services.
It’s a question that has been unanswered for years — how can a business corridor so close to the city’s downtown core secure the investment that other areas like it have received?
For a number of reasons, Del Paso Boulevard has been overlooked. Like a lot of Sacramento’s District 2, which encompasses neighborhoods like Old North Sacramento, Del Paso Heights, and Strawberry Manor, much of the boulevard also remains underdeveloped.
But a plot of land recently sold by the city could be the catalyst to change that.
“How does Del Paso Boulevard become this walkable, densely populated neighborhood,” Savala said. “Housing is really what we lack.”
On Tuesday, city council approved the sale of two plots of land to a redevelopment company called Meta Housing Corporation, which plans to build mixed-income housing on a vacant lot on Del Paso Boulevard near Baxter Avenue.
The city-owned site was sold to Meta Housing Corporation for $420,000. The development group expects to create 100 units, about 20% of which will be designated for low-income households.
“This property’s zoning, neighborhood, proximity to amenities and location on a transit corridor are all key components of a successful community,” a statement from Meta Housing Corporation said. They added they were excited to be a part of this redevelopment project which would “transform and reinvigorate a blighted site.”
Savala said that housing has been tricky in the past. Though the boulevard has been able to attract businesses, he said it’s struggled with creating housing because of the cost of building in an area with aging infrastructure.
But he said the new plan for housing could mean a change in the tide.
“Those things happening are really going to be catalytic for Del Paso Boulevard., If one development comes, more will follow,” Savala said.
It’s an issue on which both District 2 city council candidates agree.
Incumbent councilmember Allen Warren, who has represented North Sacramento since 2012, says creating more housing has to continue to be a priority, both during his campaign and beyond.
“It’s one of the oldest parts of the city, [and] it used to be the most prominent part of the entire region,” Warren told CapRadio. “We have great areas of opportunity in District 2, but retail, which is one of the things lacking in District 2, it follows rooftops. So you have to have the housing and the numbers that can support retail within a proximity of where people live.”
His opponent, Sean Loloee, an Iranian-born business owner who owns the Viva Supermarket chain of grocery stores in North Sacramento, echoed the same concerns about wanting to bring more housing to an area he felt had been overlooked.
“As other districts have flourished, we’re still waiting to see what are we going to get, and that’s very frustrating,” Loloee said. “If you look at Sacramento as a whole, before the pandemic, Sacramento was a very thriving city, yet I believe that district 2 was not represented well enough to make sure that it does get its share of money to get invested in this city to upgrade our infrastructure.”
Larry Groves, the director of the Del Paso Boulevard Partnership, said his organization has tried to bring big money to the corridor — the district has hosted food festivals, has been deemed the “Design District” and has been in talks to bring a farmer’s market in for almost a decade. But despite the efforts, Groves said nothing has been as successful as he’d have liked.
“We’ve gone through several programs that may have not taken, we’ve had plans, it’s just — it’s hard to get people up here as a destination place,” Groves said.
He said they’ve even tried to entice investors into building housing in the area, but until now, there haven’t been any takers.
He concluded: “We just need that big catalyst project to get it going.”
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