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Cathie Anderson: Town & Country Village renovation progressing

Published: Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012 - 10:04 am

Art and Marianne Ellis and about eight other Bee readers have called or emailed for an update on the remodeling of the beloved Town & Country Village shopping center over at Marconi and Fulton avenues in Sacramento County.

The developer, Donahue Schriber, told me that demolition should be done in November and tenant announcements could come as early as December.

At the Sacramento County Planning Division, preliminary plans show a few new buildings. Two of them echo the hipped roofs and colonnades on the current structures. The third and largest building has more of a big-box feel than California rancho style.

The update will keep the shopping center from becoming obsolete, said Doug Svensson, president of Applied Development Economics, which has offices in Walnut Creek and Sacramento.

"If it gets obsolete and the patronage declines and then you start to only be able to support marginal businesses, that's a downward spiral," he said.

Diving into River District

Just after the No. 11 bus from North Natomas exits Interstate 5 South and swings under the freeway and onto Richards Boulevard, a feeling of momentum takes hold.

Light cascades from the underpass in blues, greens and purples, an artistic salute to the nearby confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers. Before turning on North Seventh Street, the bus rolls by central command for the Sacramento Police Department, the new Greyhound bus depot and a head-turning light-rail station.

For the past couple of years, the No. 11 bus has bypassed the Richards Boulevard exit to avoid construction. It recently got back on course, and just one ride reveals big changes in the River District.

More than 1,500 employees have moved into new digs in this business district, nestled in a crescent formed by the two rivers. Its boundaries range from Downtown Ford and the Blue Diamond factory on the east to the I Street Bridge on the west.

The changes haven't escaped local restaurateurs: JR's Texas Bar-B-Que set up shop on Jibboom Street in June. Krush Burger will open in the headquarters for the California State Lottery in December. Two national chains – Denny's and McDonald's – are investing more than $2 million here.

"We've been here since 1996," said Ray Gallo Jr., McDonald's owner and operator, "and we've never seen business like this. We're experiencing double-digit increases in sales every month over last year."

Boy, those changes were easily missed in the years when the No. 11 bus whizzed by on I-5.

Setting pace, saving lives

Every day, Alice Mentelos goes home thinking, "I helped to save one more life and created another birthday for someone."

Mentelos and her crew of two employees and more than 160 volunteers operate the American Cancer Society's Discovery Shop in the Taylor Shopping Center on Marconi Avenue. Last year, this upscale resale shop grossed about $660,000 – more than any of the 40 stores in California.

"All the money goes toward education, research, patient services and advocacy. Everything is donated," said Mentelos, adding that Elk Grove ranks No. 4 and Roseville No. 5.

Volunteer Susan Boyd called to be sure everyone knows that the Discovery Shop has expanded into a 7,200-square-foot space a few doors down from the space it occupied for 27 years.

The new store, located at 2708 Marconi Ave., also is now the largest Discovery Shop.

The stores operate only in California.

Volunteers are typically former shoppers or donors, and leaders emerge who focus on specific products.

"We have a person who does designer outfits, a person who does shoes, a person who does collectibles, a couple of ladies who do art," Mentelos said. "We're so specialized in this shop, and I think that's why we make a lot of money."

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