Sacramento south-area residents have long craved a commercial shopping center to call their own.
The wait is over.
Delta Shores, a massive 1 million-square-foot “power center,” will open the first of up to 70 stores and restaurants in early September on a sprawling site next to Interstate 5 at the new Cosumnes River Boulevard interchange.
Dick’s Sporting Goods will be among the initial stores welcoming customers, with a preview day scheduled for Aug. 30, according to its website. Employees there were busy Tuesday hanging clothing on racks.
Petsmart, Party City, Hobby Lobby, Ross Dress for Less and Ulta Cosmetics likely will open in September but have not announced formal dates.
By year’s end, Walmart and several dozen other outlets are expected to be doing business. An RC Willey big-box store is under construction. A 14-screen Regal Cinema will open in early 2018.
The center’s store-and-restaurant mix is not new to the Sacramento region, but its location is noteworthy. For the first time since Downtown Plaza closed in 2014, the region’s south-area residents will not have to drive north across the American River to Natomas, Arden Fair and Roseville to get to a major mall or big-box retail center within the city.
Sacramento City Councilman Larry Carr and his predecessor Bonnie Pannell pushed for the Delta Shores project, saying south Sacramento neighborhoods have long been underserved and deserve of more. The project sits on Sacramento’s southern boundary, adjacent to Freeport, and north of the Laguna section of Elk Grove.
“People are excited about the prospects,” Carr said. “One thing it means is jobs. It is going to be significant, at least 1,000.”
Carr said the Walmart supermarket will bring more groceries closer to some nearby neighborhoods whose residents have been forced to drive out of their communities to do major food shopping.
Ryan DeVore, Sacramento’s community development director, said he’s pleased with the assertive approach by the development company, Merlone Geier Partners, a West Coast-based real estate and investment company with a focus on retail centers.
“The fact that they would invest and build out so much at once, it bodes well for Sacramento’s economy,” DeVore said.
DeVore said, however, he would like to see the developer fill in some of the as-yet unleased buildings with unique local companies to give the site a Sacramento touch.
The commercial center is the first phase of a planned larger community that will include up to 4,900 residences, making it the largest new community in Sacramento since North Natomas opened for development more than a decade and a half ago.
The community’s east end will include a new light-rail station on the line that goes to downtown Sacramento and to Cosumnes River College. The project and housing is served by a 3.5-mile extension of Cosumnes River Boulevard, linking I-5 and Highway 99.
The project developer representative, Gary Muljat, said it is unclear when his company will begin selling housing sites to builders.
The Delta Shores website indicates that most first-phase tenant spaces are leased, including most of the larger anchor tenant sites. Muljat said he continues to talk with prospective tenants and believes that the project is on solid footing, despite difficult times for many “brick and mortar” retailers locally and nationally.
A report issued earlier this year by Credit Suisse financial services company projected that as much as 25 percent of the country’s shopping malls could close in the next five years, driven out of business by the growth of online shopping and other trends. Retail analysts say the most vulnerable projects are typically older shopping malls in suburbs that are not growing.
University of the Pacific economist Jeff Michael, who drives past the site between his Sacramento and Stockton offices, said he remains curious about how well the project will do, given the national retail climate. But he added the project suggests a confidence that Sacramento’s continued growth will support another major center.
“It is a bet on Sacramento (as) a growing market,” he said. “This is an underserved area of the Sacramento region for major retail activities.”
Editor’s note (Aug. 16): A previous version of this story said nearly 100 stores and restaurants could open at Delta Shores. While the site was designed to have nearly 100 retail spaces, some will be combined into larger stores, and the actual number of retailers to open will be closer to 70.