The Elk Grove Planning Commission on April 19 approved plans for a commercial center at the southwest corner of Sheldon Road and East Stockton Boulevard, on property bordering Highway 99.

Plans for the center include two buildings with 17,400 square feet of commercial and retail space, a multistory, 45,139-square-foot hotel, a gas station with an associated 4,350-square-foot convenience store, a car washing facility, and a fast food restaurant.

Included in the commission’s approval is a setback reduction along the south side of Sheldon Road from 25 feet to 6 ½ feet.

The commission also approved a deviation for the height of the fueling station to reach 26 feet at its central tower.

However, they rejected a request for an increase in the height of signage for the property that neighbors the freeway. Although the applicant, Roseville-based RSC Engineering, initially requested a 60-foot sign at the southern end of the site, it later reduced the request, asking for a 45-foot sign at the northwest corner of the site.

Even with that reduction, the request required a variance, which the commission ultimately denied.

The commission instead approved a minor deviation of the variance for a 27.5-foot sign for the site.

George Carpenter Jr., vice president of Winn Communities, which owns the property, responded to the commission’s decision on the sign.

“The retailers that we talked to told us you need to have up in the 45-foot range to have something that’s effective from a freeway visibility standpoint for the location that we were proposing,” he said. “We don’t know whether the 27-and-a-half-feet will work, so we need to do some evaluation on that.”

Carpenter, however, expressed appreciation for the commission’s overall approval of the project.

“We were happy that the project got approved by the Planning Commission,” he said. “We appreciated their consideration of the requests.”

The 7-acre site, which sits across East Stockton Boulevard from another Winn Communities property, will be divided into five lots for the commercial development.

The project will mark the first development of the site, which is located near the decade-old Sheldon Road interchange.

Carpenter said the site was purchased more than 25 years ago, adding that the time is right to develop the property.

“The changing retail industry and the economy really delayed our ability to market the site to retailers opening in brand-new locations,” he said. “But we’ve got some interest now, and so that’s what has led us to process the application that was before (the) Planning Commission.”

Carpenter mentioned that ground could be broken on the project by late summer.

Although Carpenter estimated that the project would be completed in the next year or two, he explained that it is difficult to be precise on a timeline.

“It’s an economy-driven thing,” he said.  “A hotel could (be built) quickly and then that could spur a restaurant to come in. It could take less than two years or it could take longer. We just don’t know.”