Watt Communities proposes huge 261-unit development in Citrus Heights

A map outline showing where a proposed 261-unit development would be built in Citrus Heights. // Courtesy, Google Earth. *Boundary lines reflect tentative subdivision map submitted by Watt Communities. Accurate within 20 feet.

Updated Dec. 28, 12:55 p.m.–
A 55-acre housing development and open-space park has been proposed to replace the golf course on Arcadia Drive in Citrus Heights, located near Sunrise Boulevard and Greenback Lane.

The 261-unit housing proposal, submitted to the city by Watt Communities last month, includes 76 new single family homes, 72 “cluster units,” and 113 “alley loaded units.” The development would be situated with Montage Apartments on its northeastern border and Arcadia Drive and the Citrus Town Center to the southwest.

Kevin Webb, Northern California division president for Watt Communities, said the housing is planned to be spread out into three general communities, with a large swath down the middle remaining undeveloped due to a 100-year flood plain associated with Arcade Creek. He said cluster units are proposed to feature a master bedroom downstairs and be targeted towards seniors, while other units would be targeted towards first-time home buyers and new families.

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Webb said prices will range from the “high 2’s to low 4’s,” with sizes ranging from 1,400-square-feet to 2,500-square-feet. All homes would be governed by a home owners association.

A tentative subdivision map submitted to the city shows proposed homes being accessible through two entrances on Arcadia Drive, as well as an entrance on Fair Oaks Boulevard and an emergency access route connecting to Sunrise Boulevard.

Apart from one connector road through the middle, Webb said there “will be no construction going on” in the flood plain area. He said 25 of the 55 acres would be given to the Sunrise Parks and Recreation District — which would be set aside for “multi-use trails, passive park facilities, and associated improvements,” according to the city’s planning division web page.

[Document: see proposed site map]

The large development is rare for Citrus Heights, which is almost entirely built out as a city.

Nick Lagura, an associate planner with the City of Citrus Heights, called the proposal’s location “the last large development site in the city.”

The acreage is being sold by Ted Mitchell, whose family purchased 160 acres in Citrus Heights for “1500 gold pieces” over 100 years ago, according to Webb. Mitchell, now 90 years old, still owns a significant amount of acreage in the area, including the land where the Citrus Town Center sits.

Watt Communities has worked with Mitchell in the past, purchasing property from him on Antelope Road in order to build the recently completed 46-home AutumnWood development in Citrus Heights, near Interstate 80. Webb said discussions with Mitchell about the project began about a year ago, with the proposal officially being submitted to the city last month.

Colleen McDuffee, planning division manager for the city, said the proposal is in its early stages and will need a full environmental impact report. She estimated the city council voting on the project “probably in 2018.”

Community questions
Addressing a handful of questions raised by residents at a neighborhood meeting at city hall earlier this month, Webb said the development would not include low-income housing, although he said prices would be “affordable.” McDuffee also confirmed the city does not have low-income housing requirements for new developments in Citrus Heights.

Other questions included “where are the grandkids going to park?” “what if there was a fire?” and if the units would be so close you could “reach your hand out and touch the next house.”

Webb said spacing between homes would differ from lot to lot, with the goal to “make more use out of less space” without becoming too crowded. He later told The Sentinel that density is planned for 8 to 13 units per acre, while in comparison he’s built up to 18 units per acre — which he said becomes too dense.

For parking, Webb said the development is planned for one-and-a-half parking spots per unit, meaning a 30-unit community would have 45 parking spots at the street — in addition to two garage spaces.

“We’re over-parking the project,” said Webb, comparing the development to some in Southern California with limited parking. “We’ve done it wrong before, so we want to be careful.”

Discussion was also made about a comment by Councilman Bret Daniels who said during the meeting he was concerned about the “riff-raff” associated with the bus stop on Arcadia Drive. He noted the proposal called for homes facing outward towards Arcadia with only a three-foot wall separating them from the street, rather than facing the homes away from the street.

Webb responded that facing the homes outward would “help prevent crime” and give a more welcoming look, rather than facing the homes inward and having a tall wall along the street — as is the case with the AutumnWood development on Antelope Road.

Asked about similarly designed communities in the area for comparison, Webb referenced KB Home’s Marquee development off Fair Oaks Boulevard. He also said AutumnWood has similar home elevations as the new proposal.

Webb said the project is currently at the community feedback stage and he expects the project will undergo significant changes prior to being presented to the planning commission.

What do you think about Watt Communities’ proposal? Have your view published as a letter to the editor: click here.

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