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Sentinel staff report–
Ideas for the future of Sunrise Mall abound, as the City of Citrus Heights continues to gather input from community members and stakeholders on how to transform the struggling mall into a “flourishing center of community life where residents and visitors shop, work, live, and play.”
Inside the former Sears building on Tuesday evening, the city hosted its first community workshop about the mall’s future, which drew several hundred residents and attendees who gathered in table groups to draft 2D models of their vision for the future of the 100-acre Sunrise Mall property.
The workshop was part of the city’s current process to develop a “Specific Plan” that will guide future development at Sunrise Mall. Although the mall property isn’t owned by the the City of Citrus Heights, the city can still have significant say in what will ultimately happen with the property by drafting a Specific Plan.
So what happens next for the Sunrise Mall plan?
City spokeswoman Nichole Baxter said the city’s consultant team for the “Sunrise Tomorrow” project, Gensler, is currently drafting a “deep-dive market analysis” that will be presented to the Planning Commission, City Council and owners of the mall property.
The San Francisco-based architectural and planning firm was awarded a $1.2 million contract by the City Council in October to create a “shovel ready” plan to comprehensively guide future development at the mall. Baxter said community and stakeholder feedback will be compiled with the market analysis and will guide “options, concepts and ultimately a plan.”
The development of a Specific Plan could take up to two years. A draft timeline calls for concept options to be presented in a joint City Council and Planning Commission study session in March, followed by a second community workshop in May or June where a “preferred concept” will be presented, Baxter said.
By August or September of this year, another study session will be held with the City Council and Planning Commission where Gensler will present a draft Specific Plan for the mall. A full Environmental Impact Report for the plan will also be required, prior to final adoption, which can take more than a year.
Baxter said the completion of the EIR is expected by the end of 2021.
Tuesday night’s workshop saw some common themes emerge, Baxter said, with staff noting “a lot of people want to transform the Sunrise Mall site into a place where they can continue to shop, but also gather as a community and live, work, and play.”
One idea, pasted together on a design board, included restaurants with outdoor dining along Sunrise Boulevard, entertainment options towards Greenback Lane, high-density residential to the east, and a greenbelt in the middle. Images of a brewery, outdoor concert space, and a hotel were also included in the layout.
Another idea board included a community garden, gym, arts space and a dog park.
In remarks made during Thursday’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins said she attended the community workshop and described the turnout and level of engagement from the public as “amazing.”
“It was a great way to get community input,” she said.
A second workshop will provide more opportunity for public input, and the city is also continuing to receive input from the public on its “Idea Wall” at SunriseTomorrow.net.
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