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Updated Jan. 27, 7:12 a.m.–
Sentinel staff report– The Citrus Heights Planning Commission on Wednesday night voted unanimously to approve an extensive remodel and expansion project that seeks to revitalize an aging 15-acre shopping center in Citrus Heights. The proposal now awaits a final decision by the City Council.
The plan includes extensive facade improvements on buildings in the Sunrise Village shopping center, located at the northwest corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Madison Avenue, along with the addition of about 17,000 square feet of commercial space. The existing former Coco’s Bakery building is to be demolished and replaced with a 5,500-square-foot building with a drive-thru.
In 2017, the 157,000-square-foot Sunrise Village property was purchased by the San Francisco-based Merlone Geier investment company for $25.7 million. The center is currently occupied by JoAnn Fabrics, Rite Aid, Benihana, Olive Garden, and several other businesses and restaurants.
The project area does not include the Rite-Aid building, gas station and a credit union building on the north side, which are independently owned. However, owners are in discussion with Rite-Aid to renovate the facade or purchase the building, according to Planning Commissioner Tim Schaefer, who was appointed chairman during the meeting.
The commission voted 6-0 in favor of recommending the City Council approve the project. Commissioner Marcelle Flowers was absent from the meeting.
Schaefer said Merlone Geier’s business model is to buy up under-performing shopping centers, develop relationships with potential tenants and then renovate to each tenant’s specification. This appears to be the plan for Sunrise Village, with the company previously confirming a sports club as a future tenant that will take up 50,000-square-feet at the center.
Schaefer said the project also includes a new building for JoAnn Fabrics. As previously reported by The Sentinel, the sports club will take up a portion of the existing fabric store as well as the Tuesday Morning building. Tuesday Morning announced last year it would be opening a new store in the Sam’s Club shopping center on Greenback Lane.
Included with facade improvements, the project calls for canopies above walkways and the creation of outdoor patio spaces and modifications to the existing roofline. Large archway signage branding the center as “Sunrise Village” was also approved and will appear across two of the center’s driveways.
Sunrise MarketPlace Executive Director Kathilynn Carpenter, who spoke in support of the project during the Planning Commission’s Jan. 22 public hearing, told The Sentinel the $15-20 million renovation “shows strong confidence in the future viability of the area.”
She said the Sunrise MarketPlace, a business improvement district representing 400-plus businesses in the Sunrise-Greenback corridor, had worked with the city to draft guidelines for sign exceptions in the district. “[I]ts rewarding to see it being utilized here to add distinctive archways to the property,” she said.
Pending final approval by the City Council, the project is expected to begin as early as this spring and conclude next year.
In a separate vote held the same night, planning commissioners also approved a request for new large signage outside the former Kmart shopping center on Auburn Boulevard, where a new Studio Movie Grill is being built.
Citrus Heights Economic Development Manager Meghan Huber told The Sentinel earlier this month that Sunrise Village is the latest of several commercial centers in the city undergoing significant changes, as retail centers “change and iterate” to adapt to changing trends in the online shopping era.
She noted changing uses in former retail centers, including Studio Movie Grill taking up a former retail site and the sports club planning to fill a large portion of the Sunrise Village center.
Most notably, the city is currently in the process of re-envisioning Sunrise Mall to likely include mixed-use. The city last summer changed its General Plan to re-define the mall from being a commercial hub to instead becoming a “premier destination to shop, work, live and play.”
*Correction: An initial version of this article said the city had approved plans for the project. This article has been updated to clarify that the plan was approved by the city’s Planning Commission, whose recommendation will be sent to the City Council for final approval.
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