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Has the pandemic affected plans for Sunrise Mall redevelopment?

A preferred concept plan for the future of Sunrise Mall presented to the council last summer shows a 21st Century Main Street layout.

By Mike Hazlip—
Plans for the future redevelopment of Sunrise Mall remain largely unchanged amid rising construction costs and a shift toward working from home fueled by the pandemic, according to a city spokeswoman.

The National Association of Home Builders reports a 180% increase in lumber prices over the last year. Construction industry trade journalism site Construction Dive also reports an increase in the cost of steel. The increased costs have caused some builders to re-work site plans using alternative materials, according to the report.

City Spokeswoman Nichole Baxter acknowledged rising costs and said development plans for the 100-acre Sunrise Mall site are “not immune” to the increased cost of materials, but did not give specifics on the potential impact to local projects.

Baxter said planners hope that a phased implementation of the mall’s redevelopment, unveiled in a community meeting last spring, will allow time for the economy to return to normalcy once construction begins.

“The plan proposes phases for redevelopment of the Sunrise Mall site, with employment campus plans included in phase two,” Baxter said, referring to significant office space being planned. “Ideally, this gives time for COVID-19 recovery.”

She added the plan incorporates flexible use spaces that can be adapted to changing economic conditions, and said it would allow for “potentially tripling the development permitted” at the site. The plan proposed by San Francisco-based architectural consultant group Gensler calls for a four-phase development over 20 years, according to earlier reports by The Sentinel.

Related: City answers common questions about vision for Sunrise Mall

A February report by McKinsey and Company says trends toward telecommuting and on-line shopping were accelerated by the pandemic shutdown.

“We find that jobs in work arenas with higher levels of physical proximity are likely to see greater transformation after the pandemic, triggering knock-on effects in other work arenas as business models shift in response,” the report said.

A Forbes report from March also predicts working from home will become more common even as the pandemic shutdowns come to a close.

“The pandemic has accelerated three broad sets of trends that were visible before: Much greater reliance on remote work, including more virtual meetings and less travel; higher use of e-commerce and virtual transactions (including buy online–pick-up in store, restaurant delivery, online grocery, online education, and telemedicine); and greater adoption of automation” the report said.

Related: Sunrise Mall redevelopment could add $1 billion value, up from current $31M

For Citrus Heights, Baxter said the city is committed to business development moving forward.

“With our current resources we have had to be creative, but we are encouraged by the amount of new families and businesses consistently choosing to establish roots in our community,” Baxter said. “We continue to encourage our community to shop local, and ensure the economic impact of purchases supports Citrus Heights.”

The Sunrise Tomorrow concept seeks to guide redevelopment of the existing mall footprint into an outdoor shopping and dining area inspired by the Fountains in Roseville and Folsom’s Palladio mall, which have been popular comparisons mentioned in discussions about Sunrise Mall’s future. The design also features significant green space and walking paths that would be incorporated in the overall plan.

The project is currently in the Specific Plan development stage, which includes drafting of development guidelines for the site, economic impact assessment, ongoing engagement and public review.

The current stage shown on a city timeline indicates an Environmental Impact Review for the project to completed by December 2021, although the city has said plans are progressing more quickly.

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