Friday, June 20, 2008

Downtown Plaza & K Street

Like everywhere else Sacramento's downtown retail declined and fell with the rise of postwar suburbia. Unlike Dayton, there wasn't that big urban fear that prevented people from taking a second look and returning downtown when things changed.

Sacramentans don't fear & avoid their city the way Daytonians do.

So a look at the revival of downtown retail and the old K Street shopping district.

When last we saw Sac we were looking down a street in Old Sac toward downtown. That street is taken down under the interstate via this underpass, which isnt as grim as you'd imagine as it is very well maintained, and has murals and stuff, including one by the Royal Chicano Air Force...

Popping out on the other side one ascends a landscaped ramp/walkway to the Downtown Plaza shopping mall.
(this sequence... Old Sac/underpass/ascent... is actually fairly sucessfull as a lot of care was taken in designing it).

Downtown Plaza was originally a smallish outside shopping center sitting on top of a parking garage (free parking on move). Anchors where Macys California, I Magin, and the local Weinstocks department store, which was a full service store, sort of a larger version of Dayton's old Elder Beerman).

Sometime after 1988, probably in the early 1990s, it was drastically redesigned and expanded, and a downtown movie theater was added. By this time Weinstocks and I Magin had folded, and Macys took over the Wieinstock space for an additional store.

Architecturally the place has a sort of LA-modern thing going on (sort of a pop version of Morphosis)....
Lots of attention to detail to make the place visually interesting, with space broken into outdoor rooms/squares and streets.....
After passing east through the Downtown Plaza one arrives at the old shopping street, K Street.

This was turned into a pedestrian mall, with a lot of decorative concrete, referred to by the locals as "tank traps". This failed, and when light rail came, K Street was redesigned as a tree lined transit mall.
Some vignettes of K Street, the verticle one on the left looking west, and the lower right one showing that there is still a lot of vacant space on this street. The upper right one shows that adaptive reuse and rehab is also happening along with new construction.
But there still is a bit of retail to keep the place somewhat alive, including a used record store, variety stores, drug stores, little stores serving the Latino market (a bit like downtown LA there), and the great old Crest Theatre with its wonderful neon sign.
("Ban Roll-On Building" in the backrground)

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