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City says Sunrise Mall will be transformed into ‘flourishing center of community life’

Sunrise Mall
A satellite view from Google Maps shows Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights. // Image credit: Google Maps

Sentinel staff report–
The Citrus Heights City Council voted 4-0 on Thursday night to approve a General Plan amendment that will guide future development in the nearly 100-acre Sunrise Mall area.

The wording of the amendment changes the focus of future development at the mall from being exclusively commercial and instead allows for mixed-use residential and commercial purposes.

A news release from the city issued on Friday said officials “are confident the new plan will transform the Sunrise Mall into a premier regional destination and flourishing center of community life where residents and visitors shop, work, live, and play.”

In public comments made before the vote, council members emphasized that the mall property is privately owned by five separate owners who own different portions of the property, and that the city has limited control to dictate exactly what will happen or what specific business tenants will seek occupancy. However, the General Plan amendment gives the city a greater say in what development activity can occur at the mall in the future.

Citing declining retail in the era of online shopping, Councilman Bret Daniels said the potential for mixed-use at the mall opens up other uses than commercial that could help revitalize the mall area.

Mayor Jeannie Bruins, Vice Mayor Jeff Slowey, Councilman Steve Miller, and Councilman Daniels all voted in favor of the General Plan amendment. Councilwoman Porsche Middleton was absent from the meeting.

The vote came two months after the City Council directed staff in May to prepare a General Plan amendment to address future development in the Sunrise Mall area, citing increasing vacancy rates at the mall and immediate concerns with recent development inquiries that would result in “piece-meal” development rather than a comprehensive approach.

What happens next?
Following Thursday’s vote, the city released a request for bids from private consultants for the development of a “specific plan” to further guide development at the mall. The deadline for bids to be submitted is Aug. 16, with a final contract award date anticipated later this year in September.

According to a staff report included in the City Council’s July 11 meeting packet, the development of a specific plan requires an Environmental Impact Report and is anticipated to cost between $400,000 and $700,000 to develop. The completion of the specific plan and EIR is expected to take up to two years.

In Friday’s news release, the city said the process for developing a specific plan will involve the mall’s five owners, “as well as other stakeholders and the local community.” The city’s consultant for the project will be responsible for community outreach and engagement, conducting market analysis and research, and drafting the specific plan and EIR.

“With purchasing trends gravitating online, people now visit malls for an experience,” City Manager Chris Boyd said in the news release. “We want to make sure the Sunrise Mall area is viable for generations to come, and we are looking forward to working with the owners, stakeholders, and our community to put together an exciting plan for the future.”

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