When Raley’s first bought the land of the former Capital Nursery on Freeport Boulevard in South Land Park four years ago, the supermarket chain envisioned a modern anchor store to replace its 57-year-old location a block away.
A 12-1 vote by the Sacramento Planning and Design Commission last week moved the Raley’s shopping center project one step closer to completion.
Raley’s plans to build a 55,000-square-foot supermarket that would anchor a shopping center dubbed The Park. It would be outfitted with a metal canopy, large windows and shrub-filled green screens.
Six smaller commercial buildings, each hosting at least one storefront, would also be included at the 108,165-square-foot site. Raley’s does not foresee drive-thru restaurants, which it believes would “lessen the quality of the tenants attracted to the center,” according to a city staff report.
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The goal is to create a hub for neighbors to meet and shop, said Mike Maffia, a principal at MO Capital, at the meeting.
“We went further to create a place where there will be community and social destinations such as your favorite cafe or eatery,” he said.
Project documents also propose the construction of a 12-foot wall to separate the shopping center from neighboring homes and reduce the amount of light that spills over. The property would include several bicycle parking locations.
Raley’s has applied to move its classic towering neon sign to the new shopping center, according to the planning commission document.
If approved by City Council later this year, project planners hope to begin construction by late spring or early summer. The shopping center would take an estimated 14 months to build, with construction scheduled to finish in August 2018.
The commission’s vote came after almost three hours of discussion with Raley’s representatives, the project’s planners – and local residents speaking for and against the new shopping center.
Neighbors living adjacent to the new project have raised the most objections in the past several months, based on letters attached to the staff report. Some have organized an effort called Protect Land Park.
Among the top concerns are noise during the 14 months of construction, as well as noise coming from early-morning delivery trucks after its completion.
“It’s not as if this was adjacent to offices or industrial (buildings),” Commissioner Joseph Yee said about construction noise. “These are single-family homes, and even 7 a.m. is pretty early for some people.”
Some residents fear smells potentially emanating from dumpsters, particularly those behind restaurants. An increase in vehicle traffic in the already congested area is also a concern. Residents said they worry in particular about more drivers cutting through quiet residential streets to get to the shopping center or avoid traffic on Freeport.
“It’s going to be a tremendous and significant impact on traffic,” said Jody Ansell, a South Land Park resident who said the 457 parking spots planned for the shopping center concern her.
The Hollywood Park Neighborhood Association, which represents residents on the east side of Freeport Boulevard, supports the project and the preservation of the sign. In a letter earlier this month, the group asked the city for changes that would increase bicycle and pedestrian safety, as well as orient business entrances more toward Freeport.
Support also came from Land Park residents, five of whom wrote letters backing the project. Stephanie Duncan, a Land Park Community Association board member, told the planning commission that she personally supports the project and believes Raley’s has done enough to minimize impacts on neighbors.
“I know that Raley’s has been a great neighbor to the Land Park area, over 50 years,” Duncan said. “At the same time, (the Raley’s store) needs a makeover, an upgrade, something that will last for 50 more years. However to do this, I believe a new store is necessary.”