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Sentinel staff report–
The Citrus Heights City Council on Thursday will consider selling the centrally located, 11-acre former middle school lot at Sylvan Corners to a developer.
According to a staff report included in the city’s Jan. 14 agenda packet, Utah-based Woodside Homes is proposing to develop the site with up to 93 homes and would buy the property from the city for up to $4.17 million. The price is contingent on how many homes the city would ultimately approve for development at the site.
The city had initially purchased the land for $3.43 million from the school district in May 2019, with the intention of having greater control in how the property would be used when selling it back to a developer.
“We were striving to break even, but coming in a little higher definitely will help,” said Mayor Steve Miller in a phone interview on Friday.
“If approved, it’ll really activate that corner,” he said, noting restaurants, schools, and commercial areas within close walking distance.
The mayor said he had been hoping for a mix of residential and commercial, with a cafe at the corner, but noted that only one development proposal had been submitted during an offering period last year, leaving the city with minimal options.
Anticipating concerns about increased traffic, Miller said homes are “probably the least impactful to the surrounding area as far as traffic,” compared with mixed-use or high density housing.
Specifics have yet to be released, with only a limited description of the housing in the city’s agenda packet. A total of 69 “front-loaded bungalow lots” and 24 “alley-loaded cottage lots” are mentioned, but no description of either is included.
Asked about the home designs proposed, Miller said he hadn’t been told any further description, but said the price of the homes would be about $400,000 at the current market price. He said, if the land sale is approved, the actual development proposal would still have to go through the planning process, where specifics would be proposed and details hammered out.
Newly seated Councilman Tim Schaefer had a somewhat different take on the proposal, saying in a phone interview Saturday that he would not have recommended the city buy the property in the first place, “because they had to borrow money to do it.” He said the property was too much of a risk to buy with debt.
“I’m glad to hear it might just break even, and I’ll wipe my brow and be done with this thing,” he said, although not stating how he would vote. He also estimated the interest cost the city incurred to hold the property at around $17,000 per month, through using its line of credit, and questioned whether there was any benefit.
A prior estimate from city staff pegged the price to hold the property for two years at about $400,000 in interest costs. The city also incurred about $47,000 in closing costs, fence construction, and other associated fees.
The City Council last year had previewed several development options for Sylvan Corners, including mixed-use, and various residential or office-focused uses.
Miller said he expects to hear some opposition from residents about the proposal, but said he hasn’t made up his mind on how he’ll vote. He also said opposition often leads to changes in proposals and “makes for better projects.”
A popular use for the 11-acre vacant site advocated by residents has been a city-owned sports complex or park, but both Miller and Schaefer said such a use wouldn’t be feasible for the cash-strapped city. Commercial uses bringing more sales tax would be in the city government’s best financial interest, but Miller noted long-standing commercial vacancies across the street and also said business uses would bring more traffic concerns than residential.
The council is slated to vote on whether to approve Woodside Homes’ offer on Thursday, Jan. 14. The meeting will be streamed live on the city’s Youtube page.
Written comments up to 250 words can be submitted by email to [email protected] and will be read aloud during the meeting. Emails can also be sent directly to the council using the address [email protected], which is forwarded to each council member.
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