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City shares latest update on Sunrise Mall plan, what’s next


An artistic rendering from Gensler of potential development envisioned in the city’s Specific Plan for Sunrise Mall.

By Mike Hazlip—
The City of Citrus Heights and its lead consultant Gensler held a public workshop on Thursday, covering the latest update in plans to transform Sunrise Mall into a regional go-to destination for entertainment, shopping, and dining — and also a place to live and work.

The meeting was held online via Zoom and had over 60 attendees. Midori Mizuhara of the architectural planning and development firm Gensler hosted the event and said the plan is currently in the “refining” stage, with more opportunity for public input to shape the plan.

The 289-page plan released last month envisions significant outdoor event and recreation space along with the creation of a walkable “21st Century Main Street.” The plan calls for tripling the development allowed at the site, with a maximum of 480 hotel rooms, 2,220 residential units, 320,000-square-feet of retail, 960,000-square-feet of office space, 450,000-square-feet of community/institutional uses, and 6,400 parking spots.

Five big ideas guide the plan: creating an economic engine, livable neighborhoods, streets for people, connected green spaces, and making the site a “community and regional destination.”

Related: City releases 289-page draft plan to transform Sunrise Mall

James Dunsmore of Gensler highlighted changing trends in the retail market, saying the pandemic has accelerated trends that began before 2020. He said 25% of regional malls are expected to close in the next five to 10 years, according to current estimates.

Dunsmore also said trends toward “hybrid work” have emerged as a result of the pandemic, with surveys indicating the future will include a mix of work-from-home along with several days a week in the office for many employees. He said the mall plan incorporates this changing demand.

Addressing a question during the meeting about traffic, Casey Kempenaar of the Citrus Heights Planning Division said the plan calls for the current Regional Transit bus station at Arcadia Drive to be moved to the new site along Sunrise Boulevard.

“It’s a very unique plan that allows buses to be front and center on the site and also close to Birdcage,” he said, adding that a new traffic signal is also proposed “that will connect Sunrise Mall to Birdcage more closely.”

Developer proposes three-story apartment complex near Sunrise Mall

Other plans to address traffic include “transit signal priority” and shared parking, along with encouraging pedestrian and bike use.

What’s next?
The draft “Specific Plan” and associated 4,000-plus page environmental impact report (EIR) are currently available for period of public review. Once public comments have been gathered, the plan will be revised and released again for a final review before the city council votes to officially adopt the plan, according to a timeline posted on the city’s Sunrise Tomorrow website.

Anyone wishing to submit a comment can do so by emailing: sunrisemallplan@citrusheights.net.

Kempenaar said the Specific Plan and EIR will likely go before the City Council for approval “probably sometime later this year.” He also said the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing prior to that, followed by another public hearing at a council meeting this fall or winter.

Asked during the meeting why the phased plan is expected to take 20 years to complete, Kempenaar said “it’s a huge site,” with the drafting of a plan serving as just a first step to get the project moving. Once approved, he said developers will then be able to submit proposals for development on the site.

The Specific Plan is designed to streamline and guide redevelopment at the mall property, but since the 100-acre property is not owned by the city the plan relies on finding private developers to put the plan into action. City staff say the first areas to likely be developed are the unused areas of the mall site: like fringe parking areas and the vacant Sears site.

View the draft plan: click here

Much of Thursday’s meeting included details about the mall’s Specific Plan already covered in a prior Sentinel article. To read more about the plan’s phased development, projected economic impact, and additional details included in the plan, see article: City releases 289-page draft plan to transform Sunrise Mall

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