ExpressJet Coming to Sacramento?

A newly reorganized airline has selected Sacramento as part of its national network. But we can't tell you how many flights it will offer from here or where they will go until next week.

The carrier, Houston-based ExpressJet Airlines, is keeping that information confidential until it releases its schedule Thursday before a national launch of service on April 1.

Why the secrecy? "We want to make sure we protect our competitive position," says spokeswoman Kristy Nicholas.

The company hasn't even disclosed which cities it's planning to serve. But Sacramento's inclusion in the airline's route system became apparent this week when ExpressJet started running newspaper and online classified ads seeking sales agents to work at Sac International.

Local airport officials say they're excited about ExpressJet's plans but aren't sharing details on the operation, at the request of the airline.

"They're controlling the release of information," says airport chief G. Hardy Acree.

The launch of what Nicholas calls ExpressJet's first "independent, branded" service follows a decision last year by Continental Airlines to scale back a portion of its work with ExpressJet. Until then, ExpressJet handled all of Continental's regional flights under the name Continental Express.

The decision to farm out some of that work to other carriers freed up 69 aircraft, and ExpressJet now has opted to use most of those planes for its new service to 24 cities in the West, Midwest and Southeast.

An ExpressJet news release this week suggests the carrier will try to distinguish itself from the no-frills style of industry leader Southwest Airlines.

The flights, on 50-seat Embraer jets, will feature free XM Satellite Radio, advance seat assignments and food service on longer flights.

What cities might ExpressJet attempt to serve out of Sacramento? We have no inside information. But guesses would include Albuquerque, N.M., and Vancouver, B.C.

Mobile home: Want a lovely classic Craftsman-style home? It's yours. For free.

The catch: You have to move the 85-year-old bungalow from its current perch at the southwest corner of 27th and V streets in midtown Sacramento.

Actually, says Jason Presley, an exec with the company that now owns the home, "we'll help with some of the costs of moving it."

Presley's firm, LJ Urban, is looking to put three condo buildings -- one with three stories, two with four -- on the site, across from the historic, brick Newton Booth building and adjacent to the freeway. But it can't start work until the house is gone.

Why not just tear the thing down? That wouldn't sit well with company officials, who are committed to a vision of creating environmentally sensitive communities.

"It's an expression of our (philosophy) that you don't just throw something away that's still good," Presley says.

If no takers are found for the home, the company will gently disassemble it and recycle its components.

"That's the next most-sustainable option," he says.

Homes with a view: As the previous item might indicate, LJ Urban is not your father's development company.

It's headed by Levi Benkert, who at the ripe age of 25 already has bought and sold a coffee shop in midtown and become a top-ranking sales agent at Lyon Real Estate.

His new venture's focus is "eco-urban" communities -- building energy-efficient housing in places where people walk instead of drive, interact with a diverse group of neighbors, engage in local politics and "work to make the world a better place," says Presley, who at 35 is the company's oldest employee.

LJ Urban's first project will be at Fourth and B streets in West Sac, across from the Metro Place at Washington Square residential project. The permitting process on that one is under way, and construction of 34 single-family homes is set to begin this summer.

The midtown Sacramento project, designed by Sacramento architect David Mogavero, will be next. Plans will be submitted in the next few months, and construction starts next year.

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