Business & Real Estate

Planning panel to consider mixed-use project in midtown featuring Whole Foods market

A proposal to construct a Whole Foods market, residential units and a parking structure in midtown Sacramento appears to have broad community support as it heads to a hearing Thursday before the city’s Planning and Design Commission.

Proposed by Pappas Investments, the project involves two sites: one on the north side of L Street between 20th and 21st streets, and one at the northeast corner of 21st Street and Capitol Avenue.

A two-level parking garage and two-story office building on L Street would be demolished to make way for an approximately 41,000-square-foot Whole Foods market, 141 residential units and three levels of parking, according to a city staff report. The existing parking at 2001 L St. serves tenants at 2020 L St., directly across the street. The proposal calls for a new six-level parking structure at 2101 Capitol Ave. to accommodate the tenant parking that would be displaced by Whole Foods and the residential project. The parking structure also would feature 12,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.

A spokesman for Pappas was not available Wednesday to provide an update on the proposal, which was unveiled last summer.

Letters the city has received from business and community groups express general support for the project.

Emily Baime Michaels, executive director of the Midtown Business Association, in a letter to city planners, praises the grocery store and housing project, saying it would provide an important amenity to the central city.

“The recent retail study released by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership cites grocery as one of the top factors that will attract or repel future investment,” Michaels said.

A letter from Patrick Stelmach, planning chairman of Preservation Sacramento, urges support for the project, saying it would beautify the neighborhood and boost the housing inventory. “The Whole Foods project preserves the historic integrity of the neighborhood by building on an automobile-oriented site, instead of evicting residents and demolishing an existing structure,” he said.

Some concerns have been raised about the design of the projects on L Street and Capitol Avenue. Jim Brown, executive director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, said a concern about access to the parking structure at Capitol Avenue and 21st Street was resolved in early meetings with the developer, who agreed to move the entrance to the structure to the alley to prevent traffic from backing up across the bike lane.

The other major concern, Brown said, was the plan to place bicycle parking midblock on L Street, which is a one-way westbound route, making it difficult for bicyclists to access. They would be tempted, Brown said, to ride on the sidewalk or ride facing traffic on L Street. He suggested the city consider making L Street a two-way street.

In addition, he said, 20th Street is a bicycle-friendly street, and bicycle advocates want to make sure it is not adversely affected by the project.

Nevertheless, Brown said, “We’re definitely in favor of high-density, mixed use in the downtown core. Definitely these projects are valuable for creating conditions for people to travel by bike, or transit or walking.”

The Planning and Design Commission meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chamber, 915 I St.

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