California Northstate University (CNU) and Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen are working to attract new businesses to the long-struggling Stonelake Landing shopping center.
Stonelake Landing, which is located on West Taron Court, near Elk Grove Boulevard and Interstate 5, has been owned by the university since 2018.
The center is currently occupied by such businesses as Oz Korean BBQ, The Vine and Spirits, and Dreaming Dog Brewery.
CNU officials previously intended to have a 13-story hospital built in an area that included the western portion of that shopping center, adjacent to the university’s current Elk Grove campus.
But after facing opposition from neighbors, business owners and environmentalists, the hospital proposal was ultimately rejected by the Elk Grove Planning Commission due to that site’s existence within a 200-year floodplain.
Last month, CNU officials announced their plan to have their hospital constructed on the site of Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento’s North Natomas.
No longer pursuing to have their hospital built near their campus, CNU has directed their attention to their Sacramento hospital plan, as well as revitalizing Stonelake Landing.
CNU President and CEO Alvin Cheung told the Citizen last week that research regarding Stonelake Landing shows that since it was built about 12 years ago, it has never achieved greater than 50% occupancy. It is currently 80% vacant.
“We recognized it must be the location or the purpose of use that does not comport with the demand of the neighborhood of a shopping center,” he said. “So, we looked at all the other options, and we recognized that if we were to repurpose the shopping center, perhaps we will put this real estate in greater use, and perhaps also benefit the neighborhood.”
Cheung mentioned that he would like to attract tenants that would provide businesses that would offer a range of amenities that would attract Stonelake neighborhood residents.
“We are working on that (plan),” he said. ”Our goal is to lease it up and surpass the point of 50%.”
Among the businesses that CNU hopes to attract to Stonelake Landing are fine dining restaurants, Cheung noted.
“We are actually looking at business owners that would like to establish themselves with fine food, fine dining,” he said. “(Such establishments) create an atmosphere of good living. Other convenient stores might also add to that, as well. That’s pretty much what we have in mind, with the goal of (bringing) additional convenience to the neighborhood.”
Although Stonelake Landing has about 25 business spaces, Cheung envisions having those spaces rented out to about 18 businesses.
“That means the multiple (space) business owners will have two to three units,” he said. “So, at 2,500 (square feet) to 3,000 (square feet), those are good size(s).”
Cheung addressed the future of current Stonelake Landing tenants.
“I think that for those who have done well and they have confidence, they will continue to do well,” he said. “They either continue to stay or they return.
“Case in point, there was a well-run Japanese cuisine restaurant, and now they are coming back. Another restaurant owner wants to come back and say, ‘Well, maybe I can add to the variety and selection to this neighborhood.’ He’s thinking about leasing two units.”
Cheung added that he would like to have a pizza restaurant at the shopping center.
“It’s what we call the ‘game-day food,’” he said. “You’ve got to have that. So, pizza is the way to go as far as I’m concerned.”
Singh-Allen told the Citizen that her involvement with the effort to bring more tenants to Stonelake Landing began last month.
“Once I learned that CNU was going to develop the hospital project in Natomas at the former Sleep Train (Arena), where the Kings used to play, then a number of constituents started to reach out (and ask), ‘What are the plans for Stonelake Landing?’
“So, I wanted to be on the forefront, and reached out to Dr. Cheung and CNU, so we can begin that dialogue. It’s very important to make sure that this shopping center is successful. I actually live in Stonelake, so I have a personal vested interest to see my neighborhood vibrant.”
Singh-Allen said that it is important to her to have the shopping center have a wide variety of small businesses, and reach its full potential.
“To date, that is not happening,” she said. “It’s a great location, but it has been challenging from the onset.”
She noted that she believes this shopping center needs a strong anchor business, and the support from Stonelake residents and people living in nearby neighborhoods.
Singh-Allen stressed her belief that it is important to focus on this shopping center to assure it progresses.
“As the mayor of Elk Grove, I want to make sure that our small business community and Stonelake Landing isn’t ignored,” she said. “So, Dr. Cheung has assured me that he plans to be on the forefront, helping revitalize this area.”
But she also noted that CNU has an incentive to have all of the spaces in its shopping center occupied.
“That gives them that rate of return, as well, on their investment,” she said.
In looking to the future, Singh-Allen emphasized the importance of not neglecting Stonelake Landing.
“As a mayor, it’s my responsibility to make sure that this area is fully realized; that it’s not abandoned,” she said. “We don’t want another ‘ghost mall’ situation, where it becomes an eyesore, with that sense of abandonment. And I’m pretty sure that Dr. Cheung doesn’t want that either, because, again, it goes back to the value of the land and what they own.”
Singh-Allen referred to filling out the business spaces at this center as a “big objective.”
“The big objective here, now that the hospital won’t be here, is we want to make sure that all these spaces are filled, and we have great businesses that can thrive,” she said.
“It’s very important, not only for me as a resident of this neighborhood, but as mayor of this city, to do this right.”
Jake Rambo, president of the Stonelake Homeowners Association, said that he has met with Cheung twice, and that he believes both he and Cheung see Stonelake Landing as a place with a lot of potential.
“I think Dr. Cheung sees that potential, whether they choose to do something or whether they pass the land onto someone else,” he said. “I think there are tremendous opportunities going forward.”
He added that he shared his own vision for the center with Cheung.
“I said this to Dr. Cheung: ‘I think there’s something very innovative that can be done at Stonelake Landing,’” he said. “We need to get away from in-the-box thinking about a strip mall surrounding a parking lot.
“I would love to see mixed-use over there, putting in more restaurants, more amenities. Love to see something like an outdoor amphitheater, where the community can come and listen to live music on the weekends.”
As for Singh-Allen’s efforts with Stonelake Landing, Rambo noted that he appreciates her “win-win” approach to promoting improvements at this shopping center.
He also hopes that people will eventually frequent a vibrant Stonelake Landing to keep tax dollars in Elk Grove.
“Keep those tax dollars in Elk Grove, so we’re reinvesting in our own community,” Rambo said.