Back in 2015, when asked whether the County's preference for mixed-use infill development of the Howe 'Bout Arden site was a consideration, the developer insisted that the site at the eastern end of Arden Fair Mall was unfit for residential use. People would never want to live there, the community was told. Even though the site was close to shops and downtown Sacramento, only commercial uses would work there. And, of course, Sacramento County hastened to agree. At about the same time, the Sacramento Inn was torn down at the other end of Arden Fair, in the City of Sacramento. The Business Journal bubbled and gushed about the potential for the Sacramento Inn site to fulfill the demand for market-rate housing close to shops and downtown Sacramento. That was a refreshing prospect, given the over-abundance of apartments and rental units we already have around here. Might we get some owner-occupied residences? A McKinley Village clone, perhaps?
Well, no. Here we are in the summer of 2018 and, wouldn't you know it, the Sacramento Inn site is now going to bless us all with more apartments -- over 730 of them, referred to in a Sacramento Bee article as one of the largest apartment complexes in the region. The article says the apartments will target young professionals who want an easy commute to jobs in downtown Sacramento. Maybe so...or maybe not, for, as CBS13 reported the other day, the project might lead to a lot more traffic in the area. And that's not hard to imagine, given that the primary access to the site is through the parking lot at the Sears end of the mall. The vicinity, whether on the unincorporated County side or the incorporated City of Sacramento side, has attracted homeless encampments and panhandlers, is deeply auto-dependent, has inadequate public transportation and is seriously neither pedestrian-friendly nor bicycle-friendly. The nearby neighborhoods are largely devoid of civic amenities. Still, the developer -- who also owns the mall -- is confident that proximity to the shops will lure upwardly-mobile residents to the new apartments. Whether the City of Sacramento will see fit to enhance the area, or just settle for the equivalent of a gated apartment complex, is yet unknown.