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Sentinel staff report–
A much-anticipated plan to bring more entertainment and events to Citrus Heights with a 2,500-seat pop-up stadium are no longer in play after the Sunrise Mall recently backed out of an agreement to be the venue’s host site.
“It’s disappointing, certainly,” said Kathilynn Carpenter, executive director of the Sunrise MarketPlace Business Improvement District, which represents more than 400 businesses in the Sunrise-Greenback corridor. The MarketPlace, in collaboration with the Mall, had originally acquired a $300,000 economic development grant from the city last year to purchase the stadium, and had announced a four-year $2.6-million marketing and operations effort related to the stadium.
The stadium would have featured a similar format to an outdoor set-up used for past concert series events in 2012 and 2013, with a fenced venue and a village with food and beverage options. The proposal attracted unanimous support from the city council and was viewed as a way to attract visitors and shoppers to Citrus Heights and “put the city on the map,” in the words of city “godfather” Bill Van Duker.
However, Carpenter said the Mall’s decision to not be a host site for the stadium “effectively puts an end to the project,” due to there being no comparable spaces in the city with existing electrical infrastructure and parking to host the stadium and associated events. As such, she said the grant money would be returned to the city and the MarketPlace will pursue smaller-scale projects instead.
Rhonda Sherman, community services director with the City of Citrus Heights, said in an email to The Sentinel that money contributed by the city for the stadium has already been returned to the city’s Economic Development Fund.
Is this related to possible plans for the Mall to pursue redevelopment?
Asked whether there could be some silver lining in the change in plans, with the change possibly being an indication that the Mall will be pursuing some redevelopment activity in the near future, Carpenter said she had seen “no indications of that being the case” and said no specific reason was given for why the Mall backed away from the original plans.
An email request to the Mall seeking comment on the reason for the change in plans and the possibility of future redevelopment yielded only a short reply from Sunrise Mall General Manager Christi Woodards, who said, “we have no comment at this time.”
In 2012, Woodards had said there were future plans for the Mall to develop pads along Sunrise Boulevard and Greenback Lane, which was one reason given for the Mall’s decision to discontinue its annual fireworks shows — and could also be a reason for not hosting the stadium. The Mall has since been acquired by the New York-based Spinoso Real Estate Group, which has also hinted at development plans at the site.
After 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 may pursue. However, the real estate investment group is known for buying up malls and revitalizing them, stating on its website that it specializes in purchasing distressed or under-performing properties and malls to “reposition” them for success.
In the first public hint at long-anticipated plans for future changes at the Sunrise Mall under new ownership, Spinoso won unanimous approval from the planning commission in March to proceed with plans to split two of the Mall’s parcels, allowing 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, near the area where stadiums have been set up for prior events at the mall.
The approved proposal 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.
Michael Miller, an asset manager for Spinoso, told The Sentinel in a brief comment following the March planning commission meeting that the parcel subdivision would allow for “flexibility on a go-forward basis.” Although declining to elaborate further, Miller confirmed the group has future plans in store for the mall — but was not releasing anything to the public.
Carpenter said Sunrise MarketPlace will be regrouping to develop a strategy for moving forward without the stadium and will work to provide other entertainment and special events on a smaller scale.
“Sunrise MarketPlace will continue to do what is has done for the past 19 years and strongly focus on improving the economic vitality of the District by driving traffic and generating positive awareness,” she said in an email. “We will continue to activate space in the District with special events and other activities. We will continue to focus on our mission of providing value and benefit to the properties with the [business improvement district].”
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