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Preferred plan for future Sunrise Mall area includes hotel, 800+ residential units

Sentinel staff report–
While coronavirus concerns continue to dominate discussion and dampen economic activity, planning continues for major redevelopment of the declining 100-acre Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights.

In a rare joint study session with members of the Planning Commission and City Council, city leaders last Thursday selected a preferred conceptual plan for the future of the mall that calls for at least one hotel, over 800 residential units, a looping bike path, major office space and a “town center” for outdoor events.

The preferred layout was selected out of three conceptual options presented by a consultant the city hired last year to develop a “shovel ready” Specific Plan to guide the mall’s future development.

Options ranged from mild to radical transformation, including a conceptual plan for “adaptive reuse” of the existing mall property that would maintain most buildings but add two hotels and other residential/commercial space in under-utilized parking areas. The more radical option, “Central Park,” would see demolition and redevelopment of the entire property, with an amenity-focus including potential for a water park and sports field.

After 90 minutes of presentation and discussion, city leaders found general consensus on a hybrid option, billed as “21st Century Main Street,” although some spoke positively of individual aspects found in the other two options.

A key factor considered during the session was incorporating features the public has said they want to see at the site, the top features being a place to see live music and walk, according to city survey data.

A powerpoint slide presented during the March 12 study session shows a looping bike path throughout the re-envisioned mall site.

Market analysis
Also key to the city’s consideration was a market analysis presented by MXD Development Strategists, which presented market research in favor of incorporating Class A office space, multi-family residential, and at least one hotel.

MXD’s moderate growth projections show demand for 938 multi-family units, including 135 senior units, at the mall property, based on projected 2040 demand. Projections also show demand for 455 hotel rooms, and 446,000-square-feet of office space, including about 10% medical.

The consultant also showed stores at Sunrise Mall have declined in taxable retail sales by 28% over the past 10 years, while retail citywide has shown almost the opposite trend: an increase of 29%. A powerpoint slide from the presentation describes Citrus Heights as “over-retailed” compared to the region.

Plans for the mall under the preferred “21st Century Main Street” layout largely match MXD’s market projections, calling for future development at the mall site to include 672,000 square feet of retail (including restaurant/entertainment), 465,000 square feet of office space, 823 units of residential, 233 hotel rooms and 13,000 square feet for community/institutional use.

City leaders spoke positively about large office square footage being able to attract larger companies who often need more than 50,000 square feet of space, which leaves them without current options in Citrus Heights.

The preferred concept shows residential situated in the southern and eastern edges of the mall property, with retail/employment uses constructed along Greenback Lane, retail and mixed use in the middle of the property, along with a “Main Street” and prominent open space area for events viewable from Sunrise Boulevard.

A powerpoint slide from MXD’s presentation shows the layout of the city’s preferred concept for a 21st Century Main Street at Sunrise Mall.

Although a preferred conceptual plan was selected during the March 12 study session, specifics are still being worked out and revisions will continue to be made until a final Specific Plan is approved later this year. A second community workshop is slated to be held within the next few months, where more public input will be received on the conceptual plans.

The preferred plan incorporates the existing JC Penny and Macy’s Women’s stores, as each separately own their properties and have expressed a desire to stay at the site. The mall site is made up of multiple owners, which the city says are involved in stakeholder discussion about future plans for the site.

As the city does not own the mall, the Specific Plan being drafted can only set a framework to guide future development at the site, and the city is not able to dictate which specific tenants will set up shop. The Stock Ranch commercial area in front of Walmart on Auburn Boulevard is also guided by a Specific Plan.

According to the city’s consultant, the next step for the Sunrise Mall plan is determining specifics, including what use goes where, development standards for how high buildings can go, the number of parking spots needed and traffic/environmental assessment.

Further summary and visuals of the three conceptual options presented during the study session will be published in The Sentinel’s upcoming March 22 Weekend e-Edition. Click here to sign up free.

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