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Sacramento Developer Buzz Oates Dies At 90

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Steve Large Steve Large
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento developer and philanthropist Buzz Oates died in his home Saturday morning, surrounded by family. He was 90.

He is being remembered as a visionary and one of Sacramento’s most prolific businessmen.

Buzz started out as a locksmith before unlocking his potential as a builder.

“It’s a rags-to-riches American dream story, and I think what separated my dad from everyone else was his ability to work harder than everyone else,” said Buzz’s son Phil Oates.

Nearly 20 years ago, CBS13 spoke with Buzz in 1995 about building a privately financed football stadium.

“Private enterprise should develop the stadium, because they can do it for a fraction of the cost than what it would cost the city,” he said.

Arco Park — as the drawings indicated it would have been called — never was built; but Buzz built a lot of other projects, including the historic Senator Hotel.

Phil reflected on his dad’s legacy from his father’s office. Buzz’s success was widespread, from historic hotels to warehouses.

“A term that developers will use is a ‘buzz box,’ square or rectangular buildings you pour the concrete and tilt it up, and he got that down to a science and was the first to do it,” said Phil.

Buzz was once named to Forbes 400 Richest Americans list.

Sacramento developer Mark Friedman said Buzz was “part of the generation where a person’s word was his bond. If Buzz made a promise, he’d keep it. There was no need for lawyers and contracts.”

Buzz had been receiving hospice care following a lengthy illness.

His business is now being run by his son Phil.

“We always knew his last days would be spent at home, and — you know — today was his last day,” said Phil.

Both Mayor Kevin Johnson and West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon both took to Twitter to remember the developer.

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