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More changes coming to Big Lots, Studio Movie Grill shopping center

An artists rendering of new signage that was approved for the Citrus Grove shopping center on the 8500 block of Auburn Boulevard in Citrus Heights. // Source: Planning Commission agenda

Sentinel staff report–
The Citrus Heights Planning Commission last week voted in favor of several proposed changes at the 13-acre Citrus Grove shopping center on Auburn Boulevard, previously home to Kmart and Smart & Final.

Changes approved unanimously by commissioners during their Jan. 22 meeting included a request to split the former Kmart building into four separate parcels and authorization for an oversize 30-foot-tall illuminated sign to be constructed outside the center.

The changes are the latest improvements planned at various aging commercial centers in Citrus Heights. Plans to renovate and expand a 150,000-plus square foot shopping center on Sunrise Boulevard are moving forward, and the city is currently crafting a plan to guide the redevelopment of Sunrise Mall.

Related: Plan to renovate, expand 15-acre Citrus Heights shopping center moves forward

The 30-by-20-foot sign for the Citrus Grove center required approval from the Planning Commission due to the city’s existing sign ordinance only allowing for a maximum sign size of 40 square feet, according to documents included in the commission’s agenda packet. The new sign will be about 605 square feet in size, more than 15 times larger than allowed by the sign regulations.

The sign will be situated about 50 feet back from Auburn Boulevard, near California Burger. Existing signage for the burger restaurant and Smart & Final will be removed.

Related: What’s happening with economic development in Citrus Heights?

A Planning Division staff report recommended the sign request be approved, noting that “a larger than normal sign is beneficial to the center,” because several storefronts are situated more than 100 feet back from the street. The staff report also said the new sign “serves as a branding opportunity as an important gateway to the city, incorporating the citrus name into the sign and center brand.”

Additional improvements along the street frontage are planned for the second phase of the city’s Auburn Boulevard revitalization project, which includes plans for a new signalized gateway arch across the boulevard near one entrance to the Citrus Grove center.

Related: Citrus Heights moving forward with $22M plan to revitalize Auburn Blvd

Commissioners also approved a tentative subdivision map request, which allows the former Kmart building to be separated into four parcels. Planning Commission Chairman Tim Schaefer told The Sentinel the request was made “to facilitate financing and to complete contractual requirement with Studio Movie Grill.”

He said commissioners held “considerable discussion” regarding a newly adoption General Plan policy that officially discourages the subdivision of large commercial properties in the city. The policy was adopted in September 2018, but the commission chose to follow a staff recommendation and approve the request with a 6-0 vote last week.

Related: Studio Movie Grill moving forward with planned 2020 opening in Citrus Heights

The subdivision intends to separate each new tenant at the former Kmart building, with parcels for Big Lots, Studio Movie Grill, and two new yet-to-be-occupied spaces. The theater and Big Lots each have significant areas of the parking lot included in their parcels.

Other existing buildings at the shopping center are unaffected by the changes.

Studio Movie Grill is currently under construction and is scheduled to open later this summer, a spokeswoman confirmed with The Sentinel on Wednesday.

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