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By Thomas J. Sullivan
The Citrus Heights City Council is poised to approve a General Plan amendment on July 11, which includes wording indicating Sunrise Mall’s future could include a residential component.
The amended wording was approved unanimously by the Citrus Heights Planning Commission last month, recognizing the need for a comprehensive planning effort for the general redevelopment of the Sunrise Mall area. The wording must now be approved by the City Council.
Proposed changes in language to Goal 12 of the city’s General Plan include modifying the general vision for the Sunrise Marketplace and Sunrise Mall from being defined only as a “commercial destination” to the broader vision of becoming the city’s “premier destination to shop, work, live and play,” with the word “commercial” specifically being removed.
The change in wording could open the scope of redevelopment options for both Sunrise Mall and the Sunrise Marketplace, which is a business district made up of over 400 businesses along the Greenback-Sunrise corridor in Citrus Heights.
At their June meeting, planning commissioners approved the addition of the word “community” to the proposal, noting that the inclusion of the word should leave no doubt as to the important role which the residents of Citrus Heights should play in determining future decisions about the mall.
Casey Kempenaar, senior city planner, told commissioners “a comprehensive community approach to the land development of Sunrise Mall will aid the city in achieving numerous related General Plan goals relating to land use planning, housing, mobility, infrastructure and economic development.” He said “no decisions concerning Sunrise Mall can be made without consideration of all feasible options and public discussion.”
In May, the City Council directed staff to prepare a General Plan amendment to address future development in the Sunrise Mall area, citing immediate concerns with recent development inquiries that would result in “piece-meal” development rather than a comprehensive approach.
The council was initially set to consider a 45-day moratorium on development at the mall, but instead opted to pursue a General Plan amendment to “comprehensively plan for future redevelopment and revitalization in the Sunrise Mall area.”
New draft language in Policy 12.3 of the city’s General Plan states an intent to “Transform the Sunrise Mall area into a premier regional destination and a flourishing center of community life where residents and visitors shop, work, live, and play.”
An action item listed under the proposed policy change states that prior to issuing any discretionary approval in the Sunrise Mall area, a comprehensive specific plan should be developed, which includes “an effective concentration and complementary mix of land uses.”
Asked about the potential for mixed use at Sunrise Mall, Meghan Huber, the city’s economic development manager, said “no decisions have been made on potential land use, and all opportunities would be looked at.”
The specific plan would also include architectural and design specifications to “transition this area from an auto-oriented suburban center to an amenity-rich, pedestrian-friendly and experience oriented regional destination,” the draft wording says.
According to a staff report included in the City Council’s July 11 meeting packet, the development of a specific plan would require an Environmental Impact Report and is anticipated to cost between $400,000 and $700,000 to develop. The completion of the specific plan and EIR is expected to take up to two years.
If approved, Huber said the development of a specific plan “would involve all ownerships, our community and extensive market analysis to determine what works best at Sunrise Mall.”
According to city records, Sunrise Mall comprises nearly 100 acres of land, the vast majority of which, about 75 acres, is underutilized wide parking fields and is considered undeveloped. The mall has long-been an economic hub for the city’s sales tax base, but in recent years has struggled with high vacancy rates and decreased foot traffic.
Kempenaar told commissioners last month that “the lack of a vision and comprehensive approach to its ultimate development may result in the inability for the mall property to reach its full potential as the ‘living room’ for the city.”
He also said the city needs to “understand and address operational impacts such as traffic, onsite circulation, parking, open space, stormwater, utilities and other infrastructure concerns.”
“The intent of this approach is to ensure that the infrastructure, land use pattern and regulation necessary to see the full potential of the mall is in place to allow for a redevelopment of the mall as a premier destination for the City of Citrus Heights,” Kempenaar said.
The full wording of the proposed General Plan amendment is included below:
Goal 12: Create an inviting and distinctive identity for Sunrise MarketPlace to promote its image as the City’s premier destination to shop, work, live, and play.
Policy 12.3 Transform the Sunrise Mall area into a premier regional destination and a flourishing center of community life where residents and visitors shop, work, live, and play.
Action A. Prior to issuing any discretionary approval in the Sunrise Mall area, develop a comprehensive specific plan that includes:
- An effective concentration and complementary mix of land uses.
- Streetscape and community gathering features that are engaging and support an active street life and a stronger sense of place.
- Architectural and design details to transition this area from an auto-oriented suburban center to an amenity-rich, pedestrian-friendly, and experience-oriented regional destination.
- Phasing, infrastructure, and financing approaches.
The specific plan shall reflect changing market conditions and provide sustained economic benefit to the city.
To see the full July 11 Council Meeting agenda packet, click here.
What would you like to see with future redevelopment at Sunrise Mall? Submit a letter to the editor or opinion column for publication: Click here
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