The Department of General Services (DGS), California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), and Capitol Area Development Authority (CADA) are pleased to announce the grand opening of Sonrisa, a 58-unit community situated in downtown Sacramento at 1322 O Street. This project was the first to break ground and is the first project finished under Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-06-19 for affordable housing development, which prioritizes the identification of excess state-owned property and pursuit of sustainable, innovative, and cost-effective construction methods to increase affordable housing.
“In California, we are using every tool available to build more housing faster, said Governor Newsom. “The grand opening of Sonrisa is a prime example of public and private sectors working together to accelerate the development of affordable housing on excess state-owned land. We are working to duplicate this effort throughout the state – providing more Californians with a place to call home.”
Construction crews broke ground in June 2021 and recently completed Sonrisa, which is located near the Capitol on an underutilized infill site and with exceptional public transit accessibility, walkability, and convenient proximity to jobs and services.
“Thanks to the Governor’s leadership and vision, this project is a shining example of how state government can change the way it operates to achieve a goal for the greater good”, said California’s Government Operations Secretary Amy Tong. “The pipeline of these projects has just begun and I’m looking forward to seeing continued progress in the months and years ahead so that we’re meeting the needs of all Californians.”
Sonrisa is a zero-net energy, zero-net carbon housing development consisting of 57 micro unit apartments at 267 square feet each, and a manager unit for a total of 58 units, as well as 1,300 square feet of ground floor commercial space that will house a job training center in partnership with the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA). One hundred percent of the 57 rental units are affordable housing at low and very low-income levels.
“This partnership between the state and Sacramento– from groundbreaking to grand opening in just under two years– is a win for residents, businesses, and the downtown community,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez. “By unlocking and making excess state land available for projects like Sonrisa we are producing more affordable, safe, and stable homes and meeting climate and transportation goals. The 63 residents who call Sonrisa home will benefit from proximity to public transit, health care, jobs, shopping, and other amenities.”
“When this program was first conceived, we loved the idea of doing a showcase project just blocks away from the Capitol,” said DGS Director Ana Lasso. “With its dedication to sustainability, including being fully electric, zero-net energy, and the use of engineered cross-laminated timber, Sonrisa exceeded our expectations. We are so proud to see this innovative housing project open.”
Along with the low-cost, long-term ground lease with the state, a competitive Transit-Oriented Development grant from HCD and the state’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program will ensure Sonrisa remains an affordable place to call home in perpetuity.
“Sonrisa is a model of what HCD is working to advance throughout California: Affordable, climate-smart housing that gives low-income residents direct access to public transportation, connecting them to a world of opportunity,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “The Governor’s vision to develop excess sites in this manner will have a long-lasting impact, with affordability covenants that are nearly double the most generous of other existing funding models.”
DGS entered into the first long-term ground lease with CADA to make this project possible.
“CADA cultivates community in a variety of ways. At Sonrisa, we have thoughtfully planned common areas for resident use and interaction, incorporated art by local artists within those areas to bring vibrancy and a sense of place, and contracted for a range of on-site services to support resident living experiences and success,” said CADA Executive Director Danielle Foster. “Together with our public sector, development, and nonprofit partners, as well as local advocates, and of course, our residents, CADA intentionally develops neighborhoods for all residents to thrive.”
Sonrisa is the first ground-up, cross-laminated timber (CLT) project in Sacramento. CLT is a large-scale, prefabricated, solid engineered wood panel product that sequesters carbon in solid form and keeps it from entering the atmosphere as CO2. Carbon sequestration is a key strategy in the fight to address climate change risks. CLT stores more carbon than many alternative non‐wood building materials. CLT is also very strong, with superior fire, seismic and thermal performance, generating almost no waste at a construction site, developing at least 20% faster, and resulting in an estimated 90% less construction traffic to and from the site.
Other sustainable features of the Sonrisa project include: 100% electric ahead of the City of Sacramento’s 2026 requirement; submetered, centralized heat pump water heating and HVAC system; low water demand landscape materials; permeable landscaped area that directs surface stormwater runoff from paved areas to the landscaping to promote infiltration and detention; low volatile organic compound (VOC) building materials; and participation in SMUD programs for use of renewable energy.
More information about Sonrisa can be found here.
Williams and Paddon, now 19-6 Architects, architect information can be found here.
The Department of General Services acts as the business manager for the state of California. DGS helps state government better serve the public by providing services to state agencies including procurement and acquisition solutions, real estate management, leasing and design services, environmentally friendly transportation, and architectural oversight and funding for the construction of safe schools.