Sentinel staff report–
Citrus Heights planning commissioners approved a trio of separate proposals following public hearings on Wednesday night, one of which was brought forward by the new owners of Sunrise Mall and another by a property owner who plans to split and sell a fully developed office complex on Madison Avenue.
In the first public hint at long-anticipated plans for future changes at the Sunrise Mall under new ownership, Spinoso Real Estate Group owners won unanimous approval from the planning commission to proceed with plans to split two of the Mall’s parcels, which will allow for the parcels to potentially be sold off or further developed. The commission’s decision authorized the creation of a new developable 1.48-acre parcel next to U.S. Bank, at the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Greenback Lane, and also carved out a separate 1.26-acre parcel for Elephant Bar by sectioning it off from an existing 25-acre parcel that houses most of the Mall’s main buildings.
What specifically the new parcels will mean for future development at the Mall was not disclosed during the planning commission’s meeting or in the meeting’s agenda packet, but Senior Planner Casey Kempenaar told The Sentinel that requests for parcel map subdivisions are typically made to allow for a portion of land to be exchanged, traded or sold.
Kempenaar also confirmed that an applicant’s future intentions with a property don’t always have to be disclosed to the city, but he said planning division staff required the Mall’s owners to demonstrate the new parcel next to U.S. Bank could be developable in the future. He said a 5,000-square-foot “hypothetical” building with 89 parking spots next to the bank was added to the plans to show future potential, but he confirmed that no plans for development at the Mall had been submitted as of Friday.
Since acquiring the 1.1 million-square-foot Sunrise Mall in late-2015, the Spinoso group has repeatedly avoided requests for interviews by numerous news outlets — leaving only speculation about what changes the group will pursue. The New York-based investment group says on its website that it specializes in purchasing distressed or under-performing properties and malls to “reposition” them for success, but has not unveiled plans locally.
Michael Miller, an asset manager for Spinoso who attended Wednesday’s meeting, told The Sentinel in a brief comment following the meeting that he was pleased with the commission’s decision and said the parcel subdivision will allow for “flexibility on a go-forward basis.” Although declining to elaborate further, Miller said the group has future plans in store for the mall — but nothing for release to the public at this point.
Despite a lack of plans for development at the Mall being submitted on Wednesday, planning commission members appeared hopeful that the subdivisions approved would pave the way for some positive changes at what is often-viewed as an aging and outdated Mall property.
“I hope that this opens the door to future development for that area,” said acting-Chairman Michael Lagomarsino, whose comments were echoed by several other commissioners during the meeting.
Other proposals approved
Commissioners also unanimously approved a proposal to split a 3.28-acre parcel behind the Sunrise Village shopping area into three different parcels. Under the approved tentative parcel map, the existing property will be split so each of the three existing office buildings will have their own parcel of roughly one acre in size.
A spokesman for the project told commissioners that the plan is to “sell the parcels off to individual users.” Two of the buildings at the office complex were previously home to TaxAudit.com, which moved its offices and 300 employees to a 55,000-square-foot facility in Folsom last year.
The final proposal authorized unanimously by the planning commission was a one-year extension relating to long-delayed plans to construct 23 single-family homes near Sayonara Drive. The proposal to subdivide a 4.3-acre parcel on Lawrence Avenue, located off Sunrise Boulevard, was originally approved in 2004, but the tentative parcel map expired after years of inactivity at the site.
The applicants, Mark and Dawn Swinger of Swinger Construction Company in Orangevale, said in a March 1 letter to the city that delay on the project has been due to the lack of available quality general engineering contractors in the area, in light of the current real estate development market. Following commissioners’ approval of the one-year extension, which is the final extension allowed by city policy, the expiration date for the project to proceed by is May 27, 2019.
Wednesday’s planning commission meeting was one of the shortest meetings on record, clocking in at less than 30 minutes in length. The commission’s chairman, Russell Blair, was absent from the meeting.