Not Run of Mill
Broadway homes deliver something new
By Gary Delsohn
Developers are capitalists. They assume risk, borrow money and partner with investors to make a profit and enjoy their piece of the American Dream. But as anyone can see, there is more than just profit motive driving The Mill at Broadway, a hip and innovative condominium project on an old industrial site a few minutes south of Downtown.
“We don’t build homes, we build community,” says Rachel Bardis, one of two Sacramento cousins who founded Bardis Homes, the project’s builder. The company is an offshoot of a well-regarded family firm that has built more than 10,000 homes in California, Nevada and Idaho.
“We’re advocates for creating something more than a house or a living environment because our lives are so much more than that,” Bardis adds. “When you buy a house, especially for so many of our buyers, this is the first time that they’re making such a big investment. It’s important to us that they feel comfortable with their investment and that they are getting something more.”
If that sounds like developer hype, a visit to The Mill at Broadway illustrates the passion, determination and skill of the Bardis cousins. Rachel and Katherine Bardis-Miry developed a few smaller projects in the area before teaming up with the investment firm partners who own the old Setzer Forest Products factory and mill site south of Broadway at Fifth Street.
“If you go way back, people have tried to do condo communities and failed and failed and failed,” Katherine says. “We had to overcome and convince a lot of the trade partners we work with to get back into condo, to be part of this. This movement, to be on the leading edge of what Sacramento is missing, that middle housing type.
With tight streets and straight architectural lines that give the community a quasi-industrial feel, The Mill at Broadway is the type of compact urban neighborhood more commonly found in cities such as Seattle and Portland than Sacramento.
Rooftop decks on eight of the neighborhood’s 24 “penthome” units provide a stirring view of a city that was teeming before the coronavirus and police-brutality protests slowed things down. But residents can still enjoy being smack in the city and just enough apart from it to find tranquility.
When the cousins began their involvement with the Mill in 2014, condominiums were not the rage in Sacramento. We have long been a place more accustomed to single-family homes and apartment buildings.
But with the latest influx of young buyers from the Bay Area, Sacramento began to experiment. The city embraced different types of housing not seen here in the past.
“It’s not apartment, it’s not single-family detached. Let’s get this movement going and be on the front end of it. It took a while. It also took a while for insurance to say yes, but we are not two people who quit easily on any project.”
The cousins, the landowners and the Bardis subcontractors, most of whom are women, have produced one of the more significant Sacramento housing developments in recent years simply because it’s so different. It is also priced lower than some other contemporary projects such as McKinley Village, with prices starting at the high $200,000s for studio units to the $600,000s for the higher-end dwellings.
At full build out, the 30-acre site will have about 1,000 units, with the vast majority owner-occupied. The Mill has 11 different housing styles. The eclectic neighborhood changed direction somewhat with the recent announcement by a Roseville investor of new plans for the 87-year-old Market Club building. That handsome brick structure is now expected to include 22 studio apartments and 9,100 square feet of retail and other commercial space.
The community was recently enhanced with completion of a 3 1/2-acre city park with bike lanes, two dog parks and several art pieces that tie the neighborhood together. Those pieces, the public market and other amenities infuse the Mill with its cool, modern ambiance so different from just about anything we see in the Sacramento core.
When I cycled through on my bike the past few weekends, the place was alive with walkers, joggers, cyclists, moms, dads and young kids enjoying the amenities and proximity to Downtown.
Speaking at a public forum last year with her developer husband, Bay Miry, who has built several innovative projects Downtown, Katherine Bardis summed up her feelings about the undertaking this way:
“Being able to pull off the first couple phases and see this old warehouse logging factory that was really under-utilized and that nobody knew existed turn into a thriving community that is continuing to grow and have new people come in every day is really special.” That is not developer hype.
Gary Delsohn can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.