It’s a Star
Future burns bright on Broadway
By Scot Crocker
Broadway. Some call it a diamond in the rough. Others say it’s eclectic and on the rebound.
Once known as Y Street, Broadway leverages its proximity as the southern border of Downtown. It was once home to Sacramento’s midcentury baseball team. The old city cemetery still operates as a tourist destination. The weekend farmers market sells its produce under the freeway. And there’s the iconic Tower Theatre and Tower Cafe.
The Greater Broadway District, supported by property owners and merchants, began 10 years ago. The organization advocates for businesses, addresses homeless problems, acts on security concerns and shapes the image of Broadway.
Joan Borucki, Broadway District executive director, says there are more than 16 projects in the pipeline, from residential units and apartments to restaurants and businesses. She points to the Complete Streets project as a possible game changer.
“Overall, I don’t think the vision for Broadway has changed much since the district was formed,” Borucki says. “We are moving forward with more housing, vibrant and unique restaurants, and a pedestrian-friendly environment.”
Complete Streets is designed to calm traffic, improve safety, and make the boulevard more inviting for foot and bike usage. It will take traffic lanes from four to three on a two-mile stretch of Broadway and create room for pedestrians, bikes and restaurant seating.
“We are a community shopping and restaurant district for Land Park, Curtis Park and parts of Midtown and Downtown,” Borucki says. “But we are drawing people from the region who are looking for experiences not available anywhere else in Sacramento.”
Dave Gull of New Helvetia Brewing is optimistic. He believes Broadway will achieve its vision as a vibrant home for residents, businesses and visitors.
“Actually, I think we are already a destination for many in the region,” he says. “People are coming here from everywhere. Within the district, we have more internationally inspired restaurants than any other place in the Sacramento region, and we have the Tower Theatre and cafe.”
But Gull adopts a serious tone when he considers a roadblock to growth and development.
“Of course, we all felt Broadway was an up-and-coming district and things are happening,” he says. “But it’s just not happening fast enough. We came here because we knew one day it would happen for us. But we need the support of the property owners. Some just don’t care.”
There are more than 200 property owners in the district. Gull’s criticism refers to sites that have not been improved, upgraded or rented. He says these properties are often passed along through trusts or bequeathed to family members. They have no economic pressure to act.
“We have vacant land, underutilized buildings and businesses that haven’t evolved over the years,” he says. “It’s a problem. It’s a frustration. They should invest in what they have, build or just simply sell to someone who will. And while the city has been a good partner and supports our vision, no one can really tell a property owner what to do.”
Broadway has seen investment. Sixteenth and Broadway is home to Noah’s Bagels, Chipotle and Sourdough & Co. The Mill at Broadway is a popular housing development. Located on the western end, The Mill has 325 units occupied and another 180 under construction, with 1,000 total upon completion.
New businesses include Selland’s Market Cafe, Bike Dog brewery, Real Pie Company and Sunh Fish. Other attractions include STAB! Comedy Theater and Square Root Academy, a teaching center for science, technology and math.
Jon Gianulias of Core Commercial Real Estate is also optimistic. He keeps an eye on Broadway development and investment opportunities. He developed the project at 16th and Broadway, and continues to look at other properties, including the old Dimple Records site.
“We need everything tied together,” Gianulias says. “We want to bring life and uniqueness to the district, get visitors to stay around for a while and provide restaurants, nightlife and businesses for those that live here.”
Like most neighborhoods in the Downtown corridor, homelessness and transients are a problem. Security and safety will have to be addressed. Still, Broadway has much to offer. It’s a destination for anyone looking for an eclectic, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood near Downtown and freeways.
Scot Crocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.