Aerial Downtown Sacramento

News Break:  Sacramento Office Market Banned for Taking Performance Supplements

For decades, Sacramento has been considered a secondary or tertiary market.  For those who bought-in 3 to 5 years ago, they are now reaping the benefits.  Now that the office market has reached equilibrium, it is only a matter of a couple years until we will see meaningful uptick in construction of speculative office product. 

Before the end of the year the most significant private sector deal was announced. Centene bought Health Net and immediately expanded in the Prospect Park submarket (Highway 50).  But the biggest deal – that was put together through the efforts of multiple public and private sector players including the City of Sacramento, The County and GSEC – is Centene’s projected 1.25 Million expansion into the North Natomas Market. 

Rolling into the End of 2017, the overall Sacramento Office Market had just recorded three positive quarters of net absorption.  While the 1st quarter was negative 138,000 square feet, the 2nd quarter was positive at 158,000 square feet, the 3rd quarter at 644,000 square feet and the 4th quarter at 106,000 square feet. Net Absorption is defined as: The net change in occupied space over a given period of time.   The biggest submarket winner is Highway 50 at positive 208,000 square feet.  2nd place was the Natomas submarket at 141,000 square feet and rounding out the top 3 is the Roseville Rocklin market at 74,000. 

New construction:  For 2017, we had 670,000 of office space under construction.  It was not long ago that less than 20,000 square feet was under construction.  The majority of this new construction is pre-leased; for example in Roseville Adventist Health is building 242,000 square feet, Kaiser is building 194,000 square feet and in Sacramento Dignity Health is building 68,000 square feet.  The biggest and most notable speculative project is The Ice Blocks development at 16th and R Street in Midtown Sacramento. The Ice Blocks Development is definitely raising the bar for Sacramento by delivering an awesome urban infill project that includes several cutting edge retailers and market rate housing.   First tenants will be moving in around May.  Heller Pacific is the developer who has added to the Midtown vibe with developments like MAARS located at 20th and J Street.

The overall vacancy factor for office space inched closer to single digits (10.3%) and the central business district is currently hovering around 9.1% (it was 8.6% going into the 4th quarter, but we saw negative absorption of 95,000 S.F.)  Markets with the lowest vacancy factor are:  Midtown and East Sacramento (about 5% combined), Folsom at 7%, Roseville and Rocklin at about 8% (which by the way was sitting at over 15% just three years ago. 

Overall Market Rents at the end of the 2017 averaged about $1.80 per square foot.  The CBD asking rent was at approximately $2.90 for class A space and the overall average asking rent is $2.45.  So, when you are looking at buildings in and around downtown with rents below $2.00 and in some cases lower that $1.65 these properties could be a great value for tenants and value add investors.  Midtown Sacramento is another market with huge upside as properties are renovated and rents increase. 

Sales in the Sacramento region really accelerated in 2017, particularly for class A properties.  In the CBD, three Class A properties in excess of 50,000 s.f. with an average price per square foot of $224 per S.F. Comparatively, in 2016, 400 Capitol Mall and 520 Capitol Mall sold for $343 and $340 PSF respectively.  For additional insight into “who owns what” take a look at:

And in the first week of January, 621 Capitol Mall sold for about $420 a foot.  Institutional Investor Shorenstein was the buyer, and this purchase is its first buy in Sacramento.  This is national news that adds to Sacramento’s momentum on the national and international stage. 

In South Natomas, the submarket immediately north of downtown,  the Evergreen Company paid $55MM ($174 a foot) for Natomas Corporate Center (2485 and 2495 Natomas Park Drive).  This is a bargain for the iconic project. 

2018 should be another very positive year with continued growth in Healthcare, Insurance, Education, Energy and Technology.  Who knows where our next new companies will come from, but I bet we will begin to see a steady increase of migration from the Bay Area combined with organic growth. 



Sacramento’s Big Man is just getting started.

How About Those Sacramento Kings?  The Kings won last night without their Big Man, Cousins.  Frankly, they looked like a whole new team, with contributions from everyone, with six players in double digits.  Willie Cauley-Stein had a career high 29 points.

Would the Downtown market be on such a winning streak without its Big Man? I don’t think so. Property is selling in the Midtown and Downtown Markets (THE CORE) for prices that are justified by increased demand for housing in Core, the Arena (The Big Man) and a multitude of other developments. Believe it or not, the demand for properties is going to increase and sustain itself, so long as the trend for migration into the Core continues. Another factor bolstering values is the replacement cost for commercial properties has increased by over 30% in the last 5 years. This is due to increased labor and material costs.

When the Arena was announced, overnight, property values in the vicinity of the site went up at least 25%. Buildings like 555 Capitol Mall, 501 J Street, The Travelers Hotel Office building and the former Greyhound Bus Station are just a few examples. For Sacramento, the Arena changes everything; consider this blog post comparing The Golden 1 Arena to San Diego’s Petco Park: For Sacramento, The Arena is the Cake

Midtown hasn’t needed the Arena to take off. For many years rents have been suppressed in this market, and as new developments come on line, the rents will be commensurate with Midtown’s value proposition and Vibe. All the new residential development, coupled with the new Sutter Hospital and the Ice Blocks are a few of the projects making it happen.

Below are a three comparable sales that demonstrate the viability of Commercial Property in the Core.

Sale #1: 831 L Street. This site consists of a 27,200 s.f. parcel with a 44,000 s.f. building with over 50 parking stalls on the site. The price was 5,000,000 which amounts to about $113 foot for the building and a land value of about $184 a foot. I see this property having two lives, one for the next 5 to 10 years as a leased building.  In its next life, the property will make way for a new development that maximizes the site.

Sale #2: 910-930 K Street. These vacant buildings sat on the market for at least 5 years, and sold about 2 years ago.  Total site consists of 20,909 s.f of land with 31,600 S.F. of buildings. PRICE: $5,300,000, that pegs the underlying land value at $250 a square foot and $167 a foot for the vacant buildings. To put this in perspective, just one block away 770 L Street, a 169,000 square foot (90% occupied) class A office building sold for $173 a foot before the Arena was announced.

Sale #3: 2020 I Street. This 9,500 S.F. building sold for $2,802,500 ($295 / SF). This building is home to Trumpette, a specialty childrens clothing store. The property sits on a relatively large lot with great parking. Wouldn’t be surprised to see some “alley activation” here.

The sales listed above are notable examples of properties that have sold at exceptional values, values that reflect where the Core is heading. This doesn’t mean that a property worth a $100 a foot is going to immediately sell for $150 a foot, but it certainly builds a solid case for optimism and positive momentum.