Real Estate News

This shopping center sign could loom over residential rooftops. Should city allow it?

Developer Paul Petrovich is known for doing things big. And for challenging City Hall norms in the process.

The Crocker Village developer has asked the city of Sacramento to allow him to build a commercial sign that could stand more than six stories tall along Sutterville Road — nearly twice the 35-foot height that city rules allow.

The sign would advertise upcoming retail stores and restaurants that Petrovich is building in his fast-rising retail center in a former railyard near the Curtis Park neighborhood.

In an explanatory statement to the city, the developer points out that Sutterville Road rises several stories on a bridge over the rail tracks at the site, which would make it hard for eastbound drivers to see a sign set at the city’s maximum allowable 35-foot high sign.

The variance “will allow the sign to extend above Sutterville ... visible for traffic approaching the shopping center,” Petrovich told the city. He says a taller sign also will make driving safer on Sutterville by giving motorists ample warning that the turn-off is upcoming.

He also points out that drivers who miss the intersection are likely to turn a block or two later and use the Curtis Park residential neighborhood as a cut-through area to get back to the shopping center, which sits along the new Crocker Drive.

“From day one of this project’s inception 15 years ago ... activists have used traffic as their main rallying cry” to oppose his plans, Petrovich wrote. “The last thing any of us who are rational needs to do is give them a real reason to complain as opposed to false arguments.”

One local activist, Eric Johnson of the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association, said his group hopes to meet with city officials this week to learn more about what Petrovich has in mind for the sign. The neighborhood association and Petrovich have been sharply at odds on numerous elements of the project in the past, including a proposed gas station on site. Johnson said his group will withhold comment on the sign until it hears more.

The sign would be located on the north side of Sutterville Road as it rises toward Sacramento City College, about a half-block from some new homes.

Petrovich could not be reached for comment Monday.

The 72-acre Crocker Village development project will include more than 330 homes when finished, a significant addition to the central city’s housing stock.

Petrovich and the city remain locked in a court battle over a portion of the project — Petrovich’s desire to build a 16-pump gas station next to a supermarket building now under construction on site.

Petrovich said he wants to land a Safeway, but Safeway officials said a few years ago that they wouldn’t locate a store there unless the supermarket chain is granted a fuel center next to the store.

The city council in 2015 rejected Petrovich’s request for a conditional use permit to allow the gas station. Petrovich sued and won a partial victory in court earlier this year when a judge ruled the city council vote was likely tainted by bias on the part of area Councilman Jay Schenirer against the Petrovich proposal.

The judge ordered the council to redo its vote, and for Schenirer to abstain. The city instead has appealed the ruling to a higher court.

Petrovich meantime has moved forward with construction of the center, and has built the shell of a building at the site where he hopes to open a supermarket.

The developer has not publicly said where he stands with his plans to entice Safeway to the site.

City officials said Petrovich’s request for a variance on the sign height is considered a “minor” variance request. A city zoning administrator will analyze the request and issue a ruling at a public hearing in the next few months.

The developer, meanwhile, has begun work expanding the Sutterville Road/12th Avenue exit ramp from southbound Highway 99. The city is requiring Petrovich to pay for an extra turn lane there as a condition of receiving occupancy permits on future development in the Crocker Village site.

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