[Session 1, August 21, 2007] PRINCE:

[Session 1, August 21, 2007]
[Begin Tape 2, Side A – Ted Leonard]
LEONARD: And if it’s going to be different from what everybody thinks it
ought to be but it’s allowed, then, it’s really up to the property
owner to decide whether he wants to do it or not. So, in this case,
you really have all this entitlement stakes except it was in a
redevelopment area. So, he needed to have the special permit and
that was the hang-up. So, that was the hook that the government
had on him. He wanted to do the project very badly, and I am
surprised that his architects--except that they had the commission,
and of course, it was a good commission—but what you have is
what I like in all architecture, too. It is a physical statement to
compromise; everybody compromises.
Um hum.
LEONARD: And a selection was made of outside architects—two architects—
one from a firm in Denver—I’ve forgotten the name—one out – I
think the Bay Area, but in their particular fields, the one from
Denver had experience both in historic buildings and in high rises,
and their [unintelligible]. But, they were the design team to
develop guidelines for the design of the building—not to design
the building, but to provide guidelines. And then with that, there
was a flurry of—I wouldn’t say hearings—there were protests, and
everything else, and several unveilings of the proposed project, and
finally the design that’s there now got built. Mr. Stagin—his name
was Stagin and he was a big developer. His attorney, Christy
Savage, I have a very nice letter from her, and so even though
Hilton Wayne was the architect of record, we had a tremendous
amount of input into the building to get it acceptable—let’s put it
that way.
LEONARD: So, he got the square footage that he needed to make the building
economically viable, but he didn’t get his—I guess you might call
it—ego statement.
LEONARD: And we didn’t get the hotel on the right side of the street; we got
the hotel on the other side of the street. And the hotel project was
just something else; that’s a whole another story.
That’s not really considered Old Sacramento, is it?
LEONARD: No. It’s not.
The Embassy Suites?
LEONARD: No, but the idea was that the scale of the building should be the
same scale, so while we didn’t have bookends, we would have a
compatibility of scale if not design. And we have some design
details …
LEONARD: That kind of work together, and the initial architect was removed
from that project, and then local architects here— they did a nice
job within the budget because it really is kind of a budget job but
they did a very nice job.
The Embassy Suites?
And then the riverfront there is part of the—is that part of the
historic project or redevelopment?
LEONARD: That’s redevelopment. [TWO TALKING AT ONCE]
It’s redevelopment.
LEONARD: It’s all redevelopment. None of the waterfront was done when I
came here. That became my real project.
That was an extension of the—because I have heard it referred to
as Capitol Mall Project; you know, there was 1, and 2, 2A, 3, 4--
LEONARD: You’ve got the “Bible” now. [Leonard’s reference binder of
Redevelopment projects]
LEONARD: Yeah, that’s it.
I see. So, then, these are all the extensions; so then the waterfront
was after--
LEONARD: That was four.
That was four?
LEONARD: That was part of Old Sacramento.
That was part of the 4?
LEONARD: Okay. The interesting thing when I looked at the waterfront
project—I know we’re bouncing around here—but the waterfront
project, we—we being the city— Agency, city, wanted to cause
the waterfront to be developed. Our project ended at the north
boundary, which is the south boundary of the state park. So then,
it was like what do we do from there? Of course, we still had to
deal with the floodwall.
And there was a desire to try and recreate the natural riverbank as
best we could and maintain flood control, which is a hard thing to
LEONARD: Well, our part from the standpoint of flood control—I mean it was
just the technical aspects of knowing how to do it, which we did.
We did know, and we did do it, but the governmental process of
going through it was horrendous. By count, to the best of my
memory, there were 21 governmental entities that either had
permitting authority or advisory authority, and a couple of those
are at absolute opposite ends of the spectrum.
This was all for work along the waterfront?
LEONARD: The river, yes, it didn’t make any difference where along the river;
that’s just the way it is. The current hotel project with restaurants
down in the middle pocket area I think has taken them probably ten
years—I would say probably ten years to get a permit and to be
able get into construction.
What project is that?
LEONARD: It’s the hotel, and the restaurant that is going in is Scott’s; it’s in
the little pocket right next to Highway 5 just past I think that’s …
Oh? Is that Scott’s Seafood?
Oh, I didn’t realize they were going to be over there.
LEONARD: And the developer there is the one who did the hotel on the shore
of Lake Natomas in Folsom. Anyway, the permitting processes
and so forth, the Reclamation Board has their requirements; the
Fish & Game has theirs; CORP is looking flood protection. Their
philosophy used to be no trees; the Reclamation Board wants to
maintain natural habitat; it goes on and on and on. The frightening
thing one day was I picked up the newspaper and there’s a project
up the river that was running parallel with us from the standpoint
of time lines, and the architect then, Roger Scott, who is a very
talented architect, was one of the very first professional uses of a
building in Old Sacramento—his office was already there when I
came. It was [unintelligible]. Roger was the architect on that, and
he’s quoted in the paper as saying that part of the problem with the
project why it’s being delayed is that there are 22 governmental
agencies that you have to get a permit from. And I’m going, “22
… I come up with 21,” and for the life of me, I don’t know who I
had missed because I think I had dotted every i. There are files
like this [gesturing]—there should be anyway—getting through
this process. So, I called Roger, who the hell is the 22nd? He starts
laughing, and he says, “You guys!” I forgot to count ourselves.
Ohh. The Agency …
LEONARD: Well, basically, the …
Or the City,
LEONARD: The city, basically, we didn’t have to apply for a permit.
Right, right. So, when …
LEONARD: When I ________ up [Coughing] let me just tell you a little bit
how we got it accomplished. Besides the adage of “It’s not what
you know but who you know,” the then head of the Corps of
Engineers—gosh, what was his name? Right here in Sacramento;
we had exchanged documents; had to have things signed, and so
forth back and forth. I used to meet him for coffee over at the K
Street Mall. We would sit down and take care of business. And he
got promoted, he got promoted to Washington, D.C., and he called
me up and he said, “I’m going to Washington, D.C. This is going
to be my new position. If you can get all the paperwork that
relates to the Corps’s approval to me by such and such a date, I
will personally hand carry it back to Washington, D.C., and in my
new capacity, I will approve it.”
LEONARD: Nice. Sat down at K Street, had coffee, it looked like some KGB
exchange at the [Laughs] taking papers from one file, putting into
his file, and off he went, and we got the Corps’ permit that way.
Wow! But then you had 20 others! [Laughter]
LEONARD: Oh, yeah, we had—not all of them were permits, but some of them
were permits. But the more challenging project was getting the
state to move on their portion of the waterfront. It was a challenge
from the standpoint of the physical improvements, being able to
cut the floodwall down, and at the same time, being able to move
the project ahead because it didn’t rate way up on the state’s
projects. I don’t remember exactly how we leveraged the state, but
we did successfully leverage the state. And what the agreement
was – the city agreed to maintain that portion of the waterfront
for—I don’t know—ten years, twenty years, whatever it was. The
Redevelopment Agency would undertake the design of the
improvements, and the city would inspect the improvements. The
Redevelopment Agency and the City jointly would supervise the
improvements, and the state would pay the costs limited to $1
We used a very fine and creative landscape architect, Ed Haig,
who said, “Let’s cut down the floodwall, and incorporate pieces of
the floodwall into the waterfront design. We’ll use it also to keep
the soil from eroding, and we’ll open it up and we’ll have
alternative means of flood control at a higher level.” And so that’s
what we did. Well, none of that was inexpensive, and when we got
our bids, we negotiated the bid to $1 million, and we didn’t have a
penny more; we didn’t even have a place to get any more. The
state was tapped out; they had only $1 million; our agreement said
that anything over and above that we had to pay for. We had no
money. We crossed our fingers, awarded the contract, went into
construction; put our first load of riffraff rock into the river …
right on top of an historic sunken ship.
Ohhh …
LEONARD: And suddenly, we had maritime artifacts to deal with and protect.
Now, was this discovered when you put the—did you know it was
LEONARD: Well, we knew they were down there somewhere.
Somewhere. How was that discovered?
LEONARD: Well, that’s another funny little aside. There was a diver, and he’s
deceased now—Ed Taylor—and Taylor had an old landing craft,
and he did all the diving along here, and while we could—we’re
getting into policy and procedures, we used to--I personally have
authority by purchase order to acquire things. So, we had to
acquire something. Well, Mr. Taylor—the one piece of equipment
that he didn’t have that he really wanted, like a big boy looking for
a bigger toy, was an underwater chain saw, if you can imagine that.
So, we, or I, we, bought him an underwater chainsaw.
Now, was this to cut trees that were growing there … underwater?
LEONARD: This was to go down; this was in exchange for him going down
and doing the investigation.
LEONARD: So, we bartered it out. I mean that’s what it came to.
LEONARD: The records show one underwater chain saw [Laughter]
For this purpose or whatever.
LEONARD: Which we never saw again. Lost at sea!
Oh, no.
LEONARD: Well, it was lost somewhere. I mean we never saw it again. So,
anyway, so we, and we had historic records that somewhere down
there, there should be this. Well, the other thing we had to deal
with was the trunk telephone line—mind you, this was presatellite, pre-cell phones and so forth. The trunk telephone
connection from the West Coast to East Coast runs right under the
Sacramento River right there at that location.
I didn’t know that.
LEONARD: Yeah, the trunk line, and so land communications are still there,
and I don’t remember what the penalty was; it was something like
$100,000 a minute or something – if you damaged the line. I mean
it’s some astronomical amount. I don’t know; that may be a gross
overstatement, but it was some terrible amount of money. So, you
had to be aware of where that thing was. We know where it is; it’s
got a manhole cover over the top of it and all that.
So, we entered into this construction project doing this thing with
no money for contingencies and with the cooperation of
everybody, the contractor, a couple of design compromises, good
inspection people from the city, good negotiating skills, we pulled
it off. We did a river project with every conceivable thing that
could have happened to us and didn’t even experience a change
Wow. Impressive.
LEONARD: Yeah, yeah, that usually doesn’t happen. So,-PRINCE:
So, what happened after with this maritime ruins, I guess you
could call it?
LEONARD: Our diver had to go down, remove the rocks—some of those were
pretty big rocks—and you can imagine there wasn’t a whole lot
left down there.
So, the river wall was taller than it is now, so that was cut down? I
thought that was—so it had blocked the river?
LEONARD: Oh, when I first came down here, there were a few places you
could stand on your tiptoes and see over the wall, put your chin on
it, and your elbows, but the wall was that high.
I didn’t realize that.
LEONARD: Yeah, now the Rio City restaurant?
LEONARD: It has a raised concrete foundation all the way around it. It has
notches in it where the doorways go through, but if you look at—
like at the side of the buildings—you will see planks. The planks
are sitting there in brackets, and if the water starts to get up high,
those planks need to be moved in place and sandbagged to keep the
water out of the restaurant. And the floor drains and everything
would be submerged actually under water, but they’re tightly
sealed. Like when you go down to the Delta King, you will see
that there’s a high wall that’s timber; that’s concealing the
concrete, but you will see the same steel brackets and the same
wooden timbers there. They get slid out, dropped into place, and
sandbags put against it because that is the elevation.
Of the original floodwall? Oh.
LEONARD: The floodwall, yes, and the amazing thing about the floodwall is
the floodwall was built apparently by Southern Pacific. It’s like a
huge concrete block wall with the blocks are 20 feet this way and
10 feet high or some such thing, totally unreinforced. So, what we
had to do is we had to go down and drill all the way down through
the whole thing, put steel in, use epoxy type grout, and go on
down, and then vertically make it so it was stable from standing
just by gravity; it’s called a gravity wall. But then to make sure it
didn’t fall over, of course, ________ the case would be, which is
more of a concern than actually falling over. There’s a system
called earth anchors – and these are steel rods. You use a drill and
you drill all the way back on a diagonal, and these anchors go
back—some of them go back all the way to Front Street.
Wow …
LEONARD: And we had to make sure that we were either above or below
utilities and everything else and that they weren’t going to get
dislodged or upset by the rail traffic. So, they go back, and then
they are pressure grounded, and it creates what is called a force
cone, and as it backs out the rebar it tightens it up. It’s the same
principle as when you hang a picture on the wall—the little molly
screw that you put in—except it’s much, much larger, and much
more expensive. So, those occur all along the floodwall.
And they all came in under a million dollars?
LEONARD: No, that was the city’s project. That was a very expensive project.
I can imagine.
LEONARD: Yeah, that was—I don’t remember the exact cost, but I can tell you
that the boardwalk—that’s down the wood boardwalk—not taking
into consideration the cost of the wood, only the cost to put it
down, but the concept was that the boards should be able to be
replaced by unscrewing them and taking them out. So, there’s a
concrete deck under all of that, and that’s designed to carry the
weight of what was then considered the top of the line fire
department equipment, fire bearing, which is obsolete; they don’t
use it any more. But that was so they could have some way to
fight a fire like on the Delta King. They would be able to reach out
over with the big booms, put the weight of the firetruck that could
be spread on the concrete, but appearance wise it needed to be
wood. And if the wood needed to be replaced at some point in
time, which it should have been replaced probably about five years
ago, they needed to be able to unbolt them.
There are 144,000 stainless steel bolts, and these are the—they’re
in capsules of epoxy. So, they’re not going anywhere. But the
bolts at that time, each of those bolts—and that was, my gosh, how
many years ago?—at that time, those bolts were running almost,
not installed, they were just something under $10 apiece. And
that’s just the bolts.
Now, to add to that, then the city Risk Management people came
down there and they see that we have these large holes that have
bolts in them, and they’re concerned about some woman or
somebody else, getting their high heels in there, breaking it off, or
tripping and falling, and the city gets sued. So, they want all those
holes to be plugged; so, we had to bid on all those holes, and the
lowest bid we got was like a $1.50 a hole times 144,000. So, the
project engineer at the time and I had just about decided that we
were going to put in our own bid, leave the city, and retire very
LEONARD: We were going to do it for fifty cents a hole.
Okay. [Laughter]
LEONARD: Divided by two, we would be okay. It would be my summer job.
But these are some of the side stories of what it has taken to
accomplish some of the things in old Sacramento.
And like you say, the contingency costs … I would imagine they
just skyrocket. And to think that there’s so many projects
happening at once.
LEONARD: Yeah, yeah, these projects are not just projects in isolation; there
are other projects that you’re involved in at the same time that are
going on that are very different from those projects.
Now, when I was reading about the beginning of the historic
district, initially, it was supposed to be much larger than it is.
LEONARD: Apparently.
Something like 8 blocks or, no, 12 blocks or something? It end up
being eight blocks, is that correct.
LEONARD: Yeah, right.
And when you got there in 74, there was--
LEONARD: It was established as to what the size was.
Okay, and there was the Firehouse Restaurant; there was, I guess
the Morse Buildings was there.
LEONARD: The Morse Building was not complete; it was a shell; the exterior
was done, and it was exposed trusses and walls consisted of—if
they weren’t bedsheets, they were close to it—and hanging
fluorescent lights and plywood floor, and … pretty Spartan, but a
great place for parties.
Yeah, I guess that’s what it was used for, huh?
LEONARD: Yeah, for receptions and things like that.
Were all the residents moved out by this time?
LEONARD: Pretty much.
Was anybody living there still?
LEONARD: No, there really wasn’t. There’s a great photograph some place; a
slide I took I think years ago and I gave it to Jim [Henley], and it’s
in the files, but it shows some of the residents sleeping in
doorways, and they were doing this all the way up, until, I’m sure
until the Ebner Hotel was torn down. It was a constant thing trying
to keep them out of the buildings. I am surprised that we didn’t
have more of them burn down. They used to find a place, get in,
and build a fire to try and keep warm, on the wood floors.
Jim told me one about one in particular that burned most of the
building down or part of it … this is in the sixties I guess.
LEONARD: It could be.
But these were--a lot of these individuals were obviously the
transients that had been there--.
LEONARD: But no apartment dwellers as such. The first residential units to be
reconstructed was the Claredon House.
LEONARD: At the corner of L and Second. That’s all reconstruction.
So now, when you came in as—your first title was Agency --
LEONARD: Agency Architect.
Architect. It sounds like from some of the things that you’re
telling me that there was a lot of engineering. Did you have a lot
of engineering background as your training?
LEONARD: As I said, I had been employed in an engineering office in Seattle.
Sure, uh huh … and did you work with an engineer for, with the
LEONARD: I worked with a lot of engineers.
With a lot of them, did you have any—I know one of the first ones
was—was it Bill Gentry?
LEONARD: Bill Gentry was the City Engineer, yes. And then he died … in an
untimely motorcycle accident death. Uh, yeah, Bill was very
capable; I enjoyed working with Bill. We had some very
frightening experiences.
Such as?
LEONARD: We were up at the top of the Holiday Inn; the Holiday Inn was
under construction. The standpipe on the east end—the standpipe,
which is what the fire department would hook up to bring water to
all the different floors—was sleeved through the concrete roof
deck, but it was not shimmied in or retained—it was just a pipe
coming up through a hole that was larger, and it sits where the exit
stairs are, which are on the north end, or on the east end of the
building, so it’s right next to where the building drops. The
building has no parapet; it just has a small curb of about 6 inches
high. We’re over there and … uh … it’s a little hairy to look
down 13 floors, although I don’t think they call it 13; I think 13 is
in the hotel lingo is a no-no. So, anyway we’re up there, and I am
standing next to the edge, and Bill is starting to look over the edge.
He’s got his arm around this pipe, and the pipe moves and Bill
moves, and the only thing he can grab is me, and he grabs me, and
swings me. I don’t have anything under my feet except about 13
feet of air, and we swing all the way around back onto the roof.
We’re only—I mean we’re not really a whole lot a long way out
from the building, but I mean you’re up far enough that there’s
nothing to hang onto. Then we sat down on the roof, and looked at
one another and then we broke out into hysterical laughter. And I
won’t tell you where we went after that. [Laughter]
I can guess. So, then you started out as the Agency Architect.
What did you think of the project being an historic district?
LEONARD: I thought it had a lot of promise, a lot of promise, and when you
start looking at California history, which I was not all that wellversed in. As I said, I came down and went to high school my last
year, year and a half in California. So, California history was not
really ingrained in me. I knew that this was a very important area,
not just because people told me and it had all the designations and
so forth, but it was, besides being old, I mean this was not old. I
have had the good fortune to travel in Europe, and like in Salzburg,
there’s the old town and new town. New Town is 400 years old, I
mean, you know? Just go to our own East Coast, I mean, but as far
as the West Coast, it’s very significant. A lot happened here; a
tremendous amount of things happened here that influenced the
entire world.
LEONARD: So, there’s a little bit of ego involved in it, too, from the standpoint
of being a part of saving something that was that significant,
whether your name ever appears anywhere.
[End of TAPE 2, Side A]
[TAPE 2, NO Side B]