For political junkies and veteran habitues of downtown Sacramento, it’s hard to imagine the 14-story building at the corner of 10th and J Streets as anything but the hangout of what were known as the “goodfellas” – those non-profit groups and others that, depending on your point of view, fought for good government. There was Common Cause, the California Tax Reform Association, the Mountain Lion Foundation, the Political Pulse newsletter, radio freelancer Pat Davis, and many others.

But now the stately building, spiffed up and shining, has a new role: It’s the 198-room Citizen Hotel, a boutique hotel that mixes elegance and hip – two characteristics not normally associated with downtown Sacramento. The structure, built in 1926, has been given a new face, an expanded lobby and  façade on 10th Street and a top-to-bottom overhaul and internal remodeling to accommodate the new hotel rooms.

Even before the hotel’s opening  – that event is expected soon – the Citizen Hotel has prompted anticipation among downtown’s businesses and the workday crowd. New restaurants have opened nearby, including an upscale restaurant-dinner theater a block away at 10th and K.

There is a sense that J Street – finally – is on the mend. Buildings along J St. have been remodeled or refurbished, and others are about to. Residential lofts and new restaurants already are situated on J Street between 8th and 9th streets. But the crown jewel, the center of the J Street renaissance, is the Citizen Hotel. The hotel will be operated by Joie de Vivre Hotels, which specializes in boutique hotels.
Boutique hotel it may be, but it’s also got some elbow room: There’s 11,000 square feet of meeting space and an unusual outside terrace. The location is spectacular: It’s across the street from City Hall and only three blocks to the Capitol. It’s near the center of the state political world, a plus in area that includes hundreds of lobbyists and Capitol staffers, and tens of thousands of state employees.
The rooms are not austere, according to the hotel’s official site. They include flat-panel television, MP3 and Ipod sound systems, cordless desk phones, in-room laptop safes, ergonomic chairs, luxury bedding and the like. Room rates will start at $249 during the week, and $149 on the weekends.

If spending a weekend on J Street doesn’t sound like a great way to go, the Citizen Hotel may change your mind.

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