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Living Downtown- A New Way of Life

O1 Lofts Building, Press

By Elaine Corn
Sacramento Magazine

Michael HellerFour people, four lifestyles, four ways to live downtown. Here’s a quartet of people enjoying city life in Sacramento’s new downtown. Bragging about how little they drive, how much they walk and that they’ve got more places to eat and hang out than anyone else, they say they love living in the center of it all.

With their home in the suburbs and a loft downtown, Michael Heller and his wife, Evelyn, have the best of both worlds.

“Each is better when I have the other,” Heller says of his unique brand of dual citizenship.

But there’s no mistaking Heller’s preference for downtown life. He may be a newlywed with a house in Gold River, but he was not about to give up his corner aerie on the third floor of the O1 Lofts just because he got married this past spring.

Heller and his partners in LoftWorks built those lofts. Heller’s gray eyes brighten at any opportunity to talk about his part in the rebirth of downtown.

“I was born in Sacramento,” he says. “It was boring when I was young. But I’ve lived in Chicago, San Francisco and L.A. Instead of complaining [about] what Sacramento didn’t have, I decided to do something about it.”

His vision for enlivening 16th Street between K and J into what is now the epicenter of loft life in Sacramento came from hitting the developer’s bull’s-eye. After LoftWorks transformed the Elliott Building at 16th and J from a car showroom into lofts and restaurants, there remained the matter of the weedy parking lot that came with it. The only answer: more lofts.

O1 is a building of the future wrapped in the past. The exterior has the architectural big shoulders of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, which is to say if you drive or walk by, you’d swear the O1 has been there for decades. Inside, the air space contains invisible streams of Wi-Fi and satellite TV.

When O1 opened in early 2006, Heller ensconced himself in a loft of his own: a big one, with 1,000 square feet and a corner view, that rents for $2,500 a month. He always wanted a “cool urban pad, a live/work space” downtown for meetings, sleeping and entertaining.

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