Building boom hits downtown Sacramento

By Sheri Williams

Sacramento is poised for another boom of government construction, bring more than $4 billion in state funds to the region and employing thousands of union workers.

Work has already begun on three new state office buildings in the downtown area, projects that have a combined budget of more than a billion dollars. Other projects, including a $915 million campus in north Sacramento that will span 17 acres and house 6,000 employees, are slated to begin in coming months.

“This is an unprecedented amount of government construction in our area,” said Sacramento-Sierra Building and Construction Trades Council executive director Kevin Ferreira. “This is high-skilled, top-quality work that only our union-trained members can do and it will provide years of continuous work that will change the skyline of the Capitol city and showcase what union labor can do.”

Ferreira said the new projects add to an already robust construction outlook in the region.

“Everywhere you look, you can see it for yourself,” said Ferreira. “Cranes are everywhere. Our crews are everywhere. This is an exciting and busy time to be in construction.”

Some of the projects on the horizon include a $550 million tower that would be Sacramento’s tallest building and house the California Public Employees Retirement System. Also slated is tearing down and rebuilding the old Capitol Annex, the N Street office building across the street from the Capitol that houses many administrative offices. That project is expected to continue through 2025 at a cost of $755 million.

At 1215 O Street, a new 11-story office tower with a pedestrian plaza, food court and retail space is slated for construction. It will house three government agencies when it is complete: the Department of Developmental Services, California Health and Human Services Agency and the Department of State Hospitals.

Some projects will be renovations, including the 1929 building on Capitol Mall that houses the State Treasurer’s Office. That site, the Jesse M. Unruh Building, will have a $70 million facelift that will begin in 2021 and take about three years. At least three more state buildings will receive similar upgrades. In all, the state is seeking funds to renovate 11 buildings.

The projects are all slated to be completed on rapid timelines, and employ green-friendly technologies. All are planned to be “zero net energy” and powered with solar systems.

The new state construction joins dozens of projects already in progress in Sacramento. At the convention center, the $300 million renovation is well underway, and much work has already been completed at the nearby Memorial Center.

At Sacramento State, building is underway on three projects totaling $265 million in costs. The construction includes a science center, a welcome center and a housing complex. The housing complex will cover more than 11 acres and cover 360,000 square feet. The science building, slated for 95,000 square feet, will house chemistry and biology buildings including an observatory with two telescopes and a retractable room and a planetarium with a 2,500-square-foot dome.

“All of those projects mean union workers are in high demand,” said Ferreira. He said it is an excellent time for young workers or those looking for a challenging career to consider joining the trades through its apprenticeship programs.

“There is no better career than the building and construction trades right now,” he said. “I encourage any man or woman with a family member or friend who is looking for a stable, satisfying career to consider joining our ranks.”