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By Thomas J. Sullivan–
Efforts to begin the second phase of the city’s plan to revitalize Auburn Boulevard is good news to developer Hemanta Agarwala, who is hoping to build his 9,000-square-feet Twin Oaks Shopping Plaza at the corner of Auburn Boulevard and Twin Oaks Avenue.
His project is located along one-mile stretch of Auburn Boulevard where the city will be undertaking an estimated $22 million project, known as the Auburn Boulevard Complete Streets Revitalization Project, Phase 2. The project will include similar improvements as the first phase, which covered the stretch of roadway from Sylvan Corners to Rusch Park.
“It’s great to hear that these new (Phase 2) improvements to Auburn Boulevard south of Interstate 80 will begin sometime in 2020,” he told The Sentinel by phone last month. “They can’t come soon enough.”
Agarwala, a general contractor and licensed mechanical engineer, bought the parcel in 2007 and has invested about $1 million in the property already, including underground improvements, laying the concrete foundation, and getting approval for the project from the city planning commission. A building permit will be needed for further construction.
“The project really has great potential, and it’s in a very high traffic area. It’s just minutes from the freeway and the Roseville city line,” he said.
The Auburn Boulevard revitalization project, which was authorized in 2005, reimagines Auburn Boulevard as a “Gateway to Citrus Heights.” Auburn Boulevard from Sylvan Corners to Interstate 80 is a corridor that is home to over 200 businesses.
Agarwala said he thought he would be able to secure an anchor tenant for Twin Oaks Plaza before beginning construction on the project, but with little success in doing so over the past decade, he is now considering filing the necessary revised permits to begin building the shopping plaza himself in 2020.
The single-story, 8,972 square-foot retail plaza would feature store fronts on both Auburn Boulevard and Twin Oaks Avenue. The site plan calls for seven potential tenants and is suitable for a mix of medical and professional businesses.
Twin Oaks Plaza would include 36 parking spots in the rear, which would be accessed from Twin Oaks Avenue. Northbound and southbound traffic on Auburn Boulevard would be able to access the lot by turning on Twin Oaks Avenue at the traffic light.
Agarwala acknowledged that through the years he’s wondered whether his investment in the one-acre parcel would ever pay off. He’s candid about the challenges he’s faced since he bought the parcel and hopes to see the project through to completion in 2020.
According to his property’s leasing brochure, an estimated 30,000 vehicles pass through the intersection of Twin Oaks Avenue and Auburn Boulevard daily.
Agarwala’s engineering form, Alpha, Inc. is based in Turlock. He wasn’t aware of the recent hire of Meghan Huber, the city’s new economic development manager or her role in actively marketing a database of vacant commercial space in the city.
Huber told The Sentinel she would be calling Agarwala to talk to him about the city’s overall marketing plan for Auburn Boulevard, and Agarwala said he would welcome any help from the city.
The nearly two-mile long Auburn Boulevard revitalization project was broken into two phases, with Phase 1 covering the section from Sylvan Corners to just beyond Antelope Road, and Phase 2 covering the remaining section up to Interstate 80.
Completion of Auburn Boulevard Phase 1 came at a price tag of more than $15 million. Work included undergrounding utility wires, adding bus pull-outs and nearly 10,000 feet of bike lanes and sidewalks, planting 230 new street trees and installing energy-efficient streetlights.
Similar features are planned for Phase 2, which are expected to begin in 2020.
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