Best Real Estate Projects: Hyatt Centric Downtown Sacramento
By Beth Davis – Contributor
Sep 8, 2022
The Hyatt Centric hotel in Downtown Sacramento is a testament to perseverance. The project took more than a decade of planning and three years of construction before opening its doors in October 2021. It survived multiple iterations; historic preservation concerns; recession; and a worldwide pandemic that created labor, supply chain and financial challenges.
“Many times, we thought about dropping the project, that maybe it’s a bridge too far,” said Guneet Bajwa, managing principal of Presidio Cos. in Davis, which bought the building in 2009. But after considering other options for the site such as multifamily housing, a parking garage or selling the property, the developers opted to stick with a hotel. The result is the $80 million, 11-story, 172-room Hyatt Centric on a Downtown corner that had been languishing for years. "We pride ourselves on doing projects that are difficult and meaningful,” Bajwa said. “We had a sense that the location was aspiring to be more than a terrible corner on Seventh and L. Maybe we were slightly foolish but we took it on." At the time of purchase, the corner housed the Jade Apartments and the Hotel Marshall, which over time had become low-rent residential hotels. The hotels were closed to make way for the new development, which was approved by the city in August 2015.
Off to a slow start, the project got a major boost when the Golden 1 Center opened in 2016, and from the subsequent development of the Downtown Commons retail area. There had been a lot of interest in the project, but it couldn’t get solid footing until the arena was built, said Roland Ketelsen, principal with HRGA Architects. Golden 1 gave the Hyatt “a lot of legs and made it important for the project to get going."
The hotel was an ambitious undertaking from the outset. It involved not only demolishing the Jade Apartments, but also tearing down the interior of the Marshall while preserving its southern and eastern brick walls. Project approval was contingent on reusing the Marshall’s brick façade, which is more than a century old. An elaborate bracing structure was created to “float” the walls above ground during both demolition and construction. The brick walls were later attached to the new structure to form the façade of the hotel’s first five stories. The upper six floors have a concrete exterior with a more modern look.
The old hotels were demolished in spring 2019, and construction began in earnest. But just when the project finally was gaining momentum, Covid struck. “From a site management purview, Covid was the biggest challenge,” said Brian Kopp, general superintendent for davisReed Construction. Difficulties included maintaining a safe and healthy workplace, labor shortages, problems posed by virtual rather than on-site inspections, supply chain shortages and price increases. “We lost a lot of time,” Kopp said.
Half the Hyatt Centric opened in October 2021, and the remaining half opened several months later. The interior pays homage to the building it replaced, originally known as the Clayton Hotel. Built in 1911, it was financed by the daughter of Dr. Marvin Clayton, whose medical office was on the block. It was sold in 1939 and renamed the Hotel Marshall, after James Wilson Marshall, who discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill on the American River.
The hotel was a significant part of Downtown Sacramento’s jazz scene from the late 1920s to the early 1950s. The Marshall’s Clayton Club featured legendary jazz musicians including Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway. The developers wanted the Hyatt to harken back to that history, rather than to the Marshall’s later days. Bajwa said that although hotels typically take three years to stabilize, the Hyatt Centric already is on track to meet 70% occupancy in September and 80% in October. “We are excited about the future,” he said. “Everything that we dreamed it would do, it is showing signs of doing."
FAST FACTS Details: Historic preservation and new construction of an 11-story, 172-room hotel at 1122 Seventh St. in Downtown Sacramento Cost: $80 million Completed: First half was finished in October 2021; second half was completed in January 2022 Developer: Presidio Cos. Contractor: davisReed Construction Architect: HRGA