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By Mike Hazlip—
In a new “Citrus Highlights” video update Wednesday, the City of Citrus Heights streamed a 30-minute online presentation to answer questions and highlight various development activity around the city.
The city’s economic development and communications manager, Meghan Huber, took questions from city spokeswoman Nichole Baxter and a few comments from individuals participating online.
Huber said her goals are attracting new businesses, retaining businesses, marketing, and supporting startup companies. She said the top economic sectors for potential growth are medical, government, and retail.
Local examples of growth in the medical sector include a new surgery center currently under construction on Stock Ranch Road, as well as the new Dignity Health building on Greenback Lane. Huber also highlighted the recent grand opening of a new Green Acres plant nursery along San Juan Avenue, in a long-vacant building.
Another area of booming economic activity is in the home improvement economic sector, which Huber said has seen a 40% increase since the pandemic began over a year ago.
Huber said one challenge with development in Citrus Heights is limited space, as the city is 98% built out. “We don’t have the luxury of just throwing up new construction,” she said.
Noting examples of redevelopment, Huber cited the transition of the former Toys R Us building into a Hobby Lobby. She believes there is still potential for additional redevelopment in Citrus Heights, and described the abandoned Studio Movie Grill site on Auburn Boulevard as having a “really compelling value proposition” to a potential tenant.
Redevelopment of the building was left unfinished when Studio Movie Grill filed bankruptcy after pandemic shutdown orders negatively impacted the business. A report in the Sacramento Business Journal also said the project’s troubles may have begun before the pandemic.
The site in the northern outskirts of the city is visible from I-80, where traffic counts are over 175,000 vehicles on the interstate and an additional 40,000 pass by on Auburn Boulevard. The boulevard itself is also slated for a $23 million infrastructure upgrade, as part of the city’s second phase of the Auburn Boulevard Revitalization project.
Plans for transforming Sunrise Mall are on schedule, according to Huber. She said an environmental impact report for the city’s Specific Plan for the mall is nearing completion, and the city expects to release more information this summer.
The mall is currently zoned retail, limiting potential development, Huber said. She expects rezoning efforts will attract new interest in the site.
The city’s plan for guiding redevelopment at the mall anticipates a four-phase project spanning 20 years, including a new “main street,” offices, residential and at least one hotel. The first phase would use the existing parking areas, three-quarters of which are surplus, according to Huber.
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