Historic Sacramento Mill Renovated As New Housing

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Architect Michael Malinowski is climbing the stairs he designed inside a five story tall concrete tube. 

“Actually, I’ll save your legs and we’ll take the elevator up.” 

That’s right…he also designed an elevator inside another tube. Not an easy job for the construction crew who had to convert these silos into elevator shafts, stairs and lobby areas.   

“There were men hanging in steel cages, suspended from the fifth floor. They entered the silo from above through a tiny opening at the very top which is where they originally put the grain in. And they’re inside the silo, this dark, five story cavernous space running concrete saws.” 

These grain silos are in Sacramento’s Alkali Flats neighborhood at 12th and C Streets. They’re part of Globe Mills which was opened in the early 1900s. 

“They were the largest grain company in the United States.” 

Grain from surrounding farms would be shipped in via the adjacent Union Pacific rail yards. But Globe Mills was shut down in 1969. And Skip Rosenbloom, one of the developers renovating the building, says after the mill was closed it became an eye sore. The city nearly demolished it after a big fire 13 years ago. 

“It was just a burned out, hulking cement structure that at the same time was pretty interesting looking.”
Steve Milne: Why did you decide to renovate instead of tearing it down? 

“If you tear down everything that defines the character of a neighborhood or a city eventually you’re left with an entirely different city and different character and I think it gives all of us comfort to have some relationship with the past.” 

The new development has 30 stylish lofts that retain much of the industrial feel of the structure and 112 apartments for seniors…all for rent…and many of them affordable-rate. As architect Michael Malinowsky points out, it sits right next to the massive Railyards project…one of the largest in-fill projects in the nation. 

“…an area that in its heyday was part of the industrial core of Sacramento, well now it’s going to become the heart of the rebirth of Sacramento.” 

The building started out as an icon of local industry and was left to decay. Now Malinowski says it’s finally coming full circle…and city officials say it’s a crucial part of redeveloping the Downtown.