This story originally appeared in The Sentinel’s Sept. 17th Weekend Edition. Sign up today to not miss out on any of our exclusive local stories.
Sentinel staff report–
Planning commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved a developer’s plan designed to help improve traffic flow and allow up to 28,000 square feet of restaurants in a new shopping area planned for the long-vacant pads in front of Costco and Walmart.
California C&S Properties, which owns the Stock Ranch Plaza at 7000 Auburn Blvd., won 6-0 approval from commissioners to develop the site with up to 15,000 square feet of fast-casual restaurants and an additional 13,000 square feet of fast food users.
C&S Spokesman John Stock, after whose family the “Stock Ranch Plaza” is named, was present at the meeting and later told The Sentinel he was pleased with the outcome and looks forward to finally developing the vacant pads along Auburn Boulevard.
“We were concerned about how busy the traffic is there, so in order to do some further development we wanted to work with the city to create a proposed traffic plan,” said Stock, noting that more restaurants and businesses would generate more traffic in the already-busy plaza. A staff report presented to commissioners indicates traffic modifications include a new four-way stop in front of Costco, realigning the existing four-way stop in front of Walmart, “reducing conflict points along the main aisle,” and extending the left-turn lane.
A total of nine buildings are approved to be built at the site, ranging in size from a 2,300-square-feet restaurant along Auburn Boulevard to various other buildings that range from 5,000 to 8,500 square feet. Another large 34,000-square-feet building is also shown on the proposed site plan, located on the eastern side of the existing entry road in front of Walmart.
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Although construction on new buildings likely won’t begin until early next year, Stock said two tenants have already signed agreements for the soon-to-be built plaza. Citing confidentiality, he didn’t name the new tenants, but confirmed both are in the restaurant and food category, along with a handful of additional tenants that are “almost signed” — at least one of which is also a restaurant.
Citrus Heights Senior Planner Casey Kempenaar told The Sentinel on Friday that the proposal to modify the traffic loop and allow for more restaurants went “hand in hand,” with improved traffic flow allowing for more high-traffic restaurants to be approved. Kempenaar said the new shopping area previously fell under the “general retail” category from an engineering perspective. He said restaurants generally will generate more trips than a typical retail establishment, which presented a barrier to adding more restaurants at the location.
Asked how many new restaurants could be expected at the plaza down the road, both Stock and Kempenaar said the answer depends on what size restaurants end up locating at the plaza.
“There are a number of different parcels there, so I really couldn’t say,” said Stock in a phone interview on Saturday. “You could have an 8,000-square-feet building with four restaurants there, or a pizza place with under 2,500 square feet. I really don’t know how it’ll play out.”
Commissioners acknowledged existing problems with traffic flow in the parking lot and seemed optimistic that the new 4-way stop and other modifications would help improve traffic. Several also expressed personal interest in new restaurants coming to the city.
“It’s screwy to drive through there, really, and it’s sort of dangerous and hard to see when you’re coming out,” said Commissioner Leah Cox, thanking the developer for addressing congestion in the parking lot. “I’m also hoping that we can see it built soon because Citrus Heights really needs some more restaurants. So I’m excited about that.”
Commissioner Jack Duncan also voiced support for the changes, noting that it has taken him “45 minutes to get out of Costco” during prior construction. He also noted the plaza gets particularly congested around Christmas time.
“I also hope that you can get some more restaurants in there,” said Duncan during comments just prior to the vote. “I’d hate seeing a McDonald’s or something like that go in there, so hopefully you can get a bigger-style restaurant.”
An uneventful public hearing was also held prior to the vote on Wednesday, with no objections raised regarding the proposal. The proposal passed with the imposition of 11 conditions that include future review of site circulation by city officials, once 20,000 square feet of buildings have been constructed.
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