February 6, 2018 Cherri Spriggs-Hernandez

Sacramento Business Journal: PR firm buys one of last J Street Victorians

One of the last Victorians on a commercial corridor of midtown Sacramento’s J Street has a new owner, and plenty of history.

Public relations firm FSB Core Strategies is planning to move 11 employees from a leased office at 520 Capitol Mall to 1800 J St. by month’s end. The firm bought the three-story, 4,100-square-foot building with an Italianate design in November for $1.16 million, according to property records.

Firm partner Cherri Spriggs Hernandez said there were two reasons to buy the building at the corner of 18th and J, which dates to 1873. One was practical: After leasing its two offices in Sacramento and Orange County, the firm wanted to establish a permanent home, she said.

But the other had a bit more whimsy. “This was always my dream,” she said, as an art major in college who liked architecture and fell in love with the building when it came on the market last summer. “To me, it’s the quintessential historic Sacramento house.”

FSB is the Sacramento area’s third-largest PR agency, based on 2016 PR fee income. While the firm was mulling whether to buy, Spriggs Hernandez said, she delved into the building’s history.

It was one of nine Victorians German immigrant Rudolph Wittenbrock built in midtown Sacramento, while making a fortune in hops. His was first, with a concrete stoop outside still bearing the family name. He built the others later for his daughters as they married, but 1800 J is the only one left.

The building remained a family home until 1961, then served as an art gallery, union hall and eventually an office for law firm Jones & Dyer. The firm, which bought it in the 1990s, is consolidating elsewhere after one partner’s retirement and the sale to FSB.

As she led a tour of the house Tuesday, Spriggs Hernandez pointed out where FSB will have a conference room overlooking 18th Street, a reception room from the front entrance on J, and second-floor offices.

The third floor is actually a sub-basement with cabinetry installed by the law firm. Those will be removed to create a plug-in space for employees visiting from the Orange County office, while an employee break room on that floor will be retained.

Spriggs Hernandez said there will also be some general aesthetic improvements, such as carpeting and paint. But she said she’s eagerly anticipating the future, from spending summer mornings on a back patio to hosting Halloween parties to being a place for people to drop in on Second Saturdays.

The new location gives FBS greater visibility, but also a different kind of reputation as a public relations firm in an accessible, welcoming neighborhood rather than a traditional office, she said.

“That makes us different as a firm, because people can see the closeness between us as partners,” she said. “That closeness is why clients choose us.”

“We’re a family business, and we’ve been joking the family finally has a home,” she said.

Nate Cyphers, a vice president at CBRE Sacramento, brokered the sale on behalf of FBS Core Strategies. CBRE Sacramento first vice president Tony Whittaker represented the seller.