Perseverance. If nothing else, you have to give Gerry Kamilos credit for that.
He has spent nearly 10 years trying to put a financial plan together that calls for a state-of-the-art basketball arena and entertainment center in Sacramento’s undeveloped railyard project near the train station.
He says, given the current economy, any plan that depends on conventional financing is doomed. So instead, with his much-ballyhooed Sacramento Convergence plan, he continues to pursue a project that involves the collaboration of the city of Sacramento, Cal Expo and the California Exposition & State Fair board of directors, the Kings and the Maloofs, VisonMaker Worldwide and other financial partners.
He also insists the reason all other attempts to develop a new arena have failed is a lack of understanding of the needs and wants of all stakeholders.
“It’s ludicrous to assume the Maloofs are going to write a check for hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new arena,” he says. “It’s just as silly to assume the city of Sacramento is going to dip into the general fund or risk future revenues to build an arena.”
So instead Kamilos — undaunted by a Stare Fair board rejection in October — would re-enter the Mayor’s arena competition fray in early January with a plan that is “80 percent” the same as the one he has pressed for much of the past 12 months.
“The only thing that has changed is moving the state fairgrounds to Natomas,” Kamilos says. “It became very apparent that the board didn’t like that option. Other than that, they are very interested in making this [Sacramento] Convergence idea work.”
So instead, Kamilos’ plan is to sell 125 acres of the current Cal Expo site and the 184 acres at the Arco Arena site in Natomas to finance the debt and equity required to make a new downtown arena and entertainment center a reality. VisionMaker, an international developer and operator of destination entertainment centers including Disneyland resorts, will turn the Cal Expo grounds into a year-round venue. At the same time, Kamilos and partners will seek “economic generators” to replace Arco in Natomas.
“It’s a complex plan, but it’s the only one that will have any chance of breaking ground within the next three years,” he says.
• Occupation: Kamilos, 51, is the president and CEO of The Kamilos Cos. During the past 20 years, the company has overseen the design and approval of financing plans, infrastructure phasing plans and permitting at local, state and federal levels for more than 15,000 acres in Northern California, including 39,000 housing units and more than 5,000 acres of employment uses.
• Personal: A fourth-generation Sacramentan, Kamilos graduated from Hiram Johnson High School. He received degrees from both Cal Poly Pomona and Saint Mary’s College of California. He and his wife, Karen, reside in Fair Oaks.
• The economy: “We’ve seen the worst. This Christmas shopping season is going to be better than last year. Any retailer that is taking a risk right now may see a double-digit percentage increase this year. Any business that’s not taking a risk, just hunkering down and trying to ride this out, is likely to fail.”
• Lunch: At Dianda’s Italian Bakery & Café in Fair Oaks Village, Kamilos enjoys an almond torta.
This year could provide some of the first expansions in bank lending since 2008. So is the market back up to speed? No. But banks are slowly and smartly increasing their appetites for commercial lending, and the Capital Region will see its share of transactions.
With the real estate market in the tank, many investors are thinking twice about real estate investment trusts, or REITs. And that suits Jim Johnson just fine.