With the city and K Street landlords locked in a power struggle over what happens to the troubled pedestrian mall, is it any wonder that Sacramento City Councilman Steve Cohn has turned his sights to the more peaceful pastures of Capitol Mall?
“Despite millions invested to date, K Street between Seventh and Ninth is still plagued by divided ownership, lack of investment and vagrancy problems,” Cohn recently wrote on the local blog Living in Urban Sac. “Meanwhile, just two blocks away sits Sacramento’s most prestigious address, Capitol Mall. Unlike K Street, this one-mile corridor between two fabulous bookends—the state Capitol and Tower Bridge—is a very wide street with unlimited possibilities.”
Cohn’s idea is to turn Capitol Mall’s current configuration inside out. He would double or triple the width of the existing sidewalks, extending them into the space now occupied by the six-lane roadway. Likewise, the city could rip out the sterile grass median strip and run car traffic and streetcars—already planned for Capitol Mall—up the middle.
The effect he’s going for is something like the Champs-Élysèes in Paris, or Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.
Cohn told SN&R that he’s just beginning to explore the idea, having talked to some property owners on those blocks, “and people are very interested. It’s got a lot of potential and lots of room to do something interesting.”
The beauty of this plan is that unlike the quagmire on K Street, the city would be dealing with a much more amenable landlord: the city. “All of that land is in public ownership,” Cohn explained, adding that the financing of the project could be helped along by leasing space on the mall for small businesses. Cohn says that a re-imagined Capitol Mall would fit nicely with the host of other major redevelopment projects planned for downtown—including the rail yards and waterfront district. And who knows? Maybe this one could actually get done.