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Elk Grove Citizen

City Defines Planning Goals for Sylvan Property

Apr 15, 2020 12:00AM ● By Story by Shaunna Boyd

The property, the former site of the old Sylvan Middle School, is located at the corner of Sylvan Rd. and Auburn Blvd. Photo by Patrick Larenas

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the April 9 Citrus Heights City Council meeting was held via teleconference in adherence with California’s social distancing requirements. City Manager Chris Boyd provided the Council with an update on the City’s response to the crisis: “Our community and staff are doing as well as can be expected during this unprecedented time. … I want to thank our staff for doing an amazing job of transitioning very quickly and providing our services as we always have, albeit in a different way.” Boyd also thanked the Citrus Heights Police Department for their work “out there on the front line … leading the way” for the community.

Boyd said that the federal government’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes language that bars governmental institutions from receiving the tax credits awarded to the private sector for providing paid sick leave and paid emergency family leave: “While the federal government has taken steps to provide resources to families affected by the virus, it has resulted in unfunded mandates for Citrus Heights.” Boyd said that numerous members in the House of Representatives are promoting a bill to repeal that language, and the City of Citrus Heights is supporting that effort.

The City is also supporting HR 6467, the Coronavirus Community Relief Act, which would provide $250 billion in funding directly to cities with populations less than 500,000. Boyd said that direct relief has already been provided for cities with larger populations throughout the country. “All the rest of us cities really need relief,” said Boyd. “Budgetary impacts for us will be severe. We’re still assessing the extent of the impact.” So, the City is focusing on advocacy to support the national relief package.

Boyd closed his report on a hopeful note: “Our community is doing well.” He commended “everyone for the work they’re doing together to make sure we’re going to beat this thing and get past this crisis as quickly as possible.”

The Council then considered Planning Goals for the Sylvan 40 property, which the City purchased last year. The property, the former site of the old Sylvan Middle School, is located at the corner of Sylvan Rd. and Auburn Blvd. Mayor Jeff Slowey explained: “We bought the property so we could, long term, be able to control—pick and choose, if you will—what development went there, but it is not the goal of the City to continue to own that property. Our goal is to put this out for development proposals to come in.” The City plans to sell the property to a developer who will carry out the City’s vision for the site.

The City wants future development of the 11-acre property to be financially feasible and provide long-term fiscal benefits to the city while serving as a catalyst for the enhancement of Sylvan Corners and the revitalization of the Auburn Blvd. corridor. The Planning Goals, including specific design and concept plans, will be shared with potential developers when the property is put on the market. Staff anticipates the property will be listed for at least 90 days so interested developers have time to submit their proposals.

Meeting the Planning Goals is, of course, contingent on developer interest and project viability. The City’s consultant, Jim Simon with RSG, completed market research evaluating the construction trends, current rental and sale rates of the surrounding housing market, and demographics for the area.

RSG’s research found a strong labor force and steady employment rates within Citrus Heights and the surrounding area. There has been significant population growth in the greater Sacramento Region, but Citrus Heights’ population growth has been slower since much of the City is already built out. As a result, Citrus Heights has the lowest residential vacancy rate in the area.

The City still needs to conduct feasibility studies to determine the preferred concept, but market research shows that the Sylvan 40 site can accommodate a variety of development options, such as commercial offices, single-family and/or multi-family residential, and mixed-use. The concept plans also include a small area for retail, but the City wants to limit the retail section to encourage buildout of the nearby Stock Ranch project and to stimulate existing retail spaces in the area.

The Sylvan 40 property is adjacent to Sylvan Cemetery, which has expressed interest in purchasing a portion of the property for future expansion needs. The Cemetery District initially asked for two acres, but Councilmembers reached a consensus at the April 9 meeting that they are not willing to sell more than one acre to the District. Councilmembers voiced concern that selling more than an acre would limit the development opportunities for the site.

The current COVID-19 pandemic adds some uncertainly to the project, since it could impact real estate development long term. The health crisis has already resulted in job losses, business closures, and a global slowdown of economic activity. With no way to know how long the pandemic will last, it is difficult to predict the long-term economic impacts. It is possible that real estate, construction, investment, and development could be affected locally, but the extent and severity are currently unknown.

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution approving the Sylvan 40 Planning Goals. They also approved resolutions authorizing staff to meet with the Cemetery District to discuss the possibility of a one-acre sale and to continue exploring market interest in the property.