A gated community and commercial lots could soon take root on land where the original town of Elk Grove once stood and that for decades was the home of Capital Nursery. It’s one of several former Capital Nursery sites that are seeing new life after the company shuttered the popular stores in 2012.
The Capital Reserve project on Elk Grove Boulevard between Highway 99 and Laguna Springs Road includes 84 single-family homes on about 10 acres, along with parkland and 40,000 square feet of commercial space to be at the front of the nearly 17-acre property.
The Elk Grove City Council unanimously allowed the project by Phoenix-based developer Pappas to move forward at its Dec. 10 meeting.
“Where this is located, it’s very unique with its infill in that it’s trying to put in a project that mirrors this area of the city,” Councilman Steve Detrick said at the meeting.
The commercial lots face a busy stretch of Elk Grove Boulevard near major retailers, including Walmart and Elk Grove Auto Mall.
The project hasn’t come without concerns. Nearby residents told council members they were worried about the prospect of two-story residences planned near their neighborhood’s one-story homes and the increased auto traffic in and around their blocks.
An environmental impact report raised additional concerns about building on the historic town site. Buildings on the site include a home built in 1889 and tied to the Elk Grove area’s earliest ranchers and horticulturalists, but the buildings do not appear to be eligible for federal, state or city historical registry.
However, the overall site “possesses outstanding significance because of its association with the original town site of Elk Grove,” the environmental report read, and is considered eligible to be listed as a landmark in the Elk Grove Registry. The report calls for a display or signage to describe the site’s history and its association with the original Elk Grove town site.
Family-owned Capital Nursery, with locations in Sacramento, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove and Rocklin, had for 76 years been a destination for generations of green thumbs across the Sacramento area. The Elk Grove Boulevard location was so much a part of the community that locals commonly referred to Capital as the Elk Grove nursery. The company’s store on Freeport Boulevard in Sacramento opened in 1936.
Competition from other retailers and larger big-box stores combined with the housing crash and recession finally spelled the end. Capital Nursery closed its locations in 2012.
The nurseries occupied large blocks of land in the middle of existing urban neighborhoods in the Sacramento region. As such, they are proving attractive to commercial buyers, said Ken Noack Jr., senior vice president of land and retail service at the Sacramento commercial real estate firm Newmark, Cornish and Carey.
“You can see that we’re in a market that is cautiously recovering,” Noack said. “We are on an upswing. I think that each of these (transactions) is indicative of market activity.”
Noack said he is brokering the sale of an undeveloped 4.6-acre Capital Nursery parcel at Granite and Warren drives in Rocklin to a buyer who expects to close on the land in 2015. Noack said he was not at liberty to elaborate, but called it a “solid sale” to a buyer who plans to use the property rather than develop it later.
Capital Nursery Village, a new shopping center proposed on the former nursery’s Sunrise Boulevard location in Citrus Heights, is also moving forward. The site is in escrow with the developer pursuing entitlements and preleasing activity, Noack said. Petaluma-based PMB Development plans to close escrow on the land in the first quarter of 2015 and develop the land into a shopping center in the summer, Noack said.
“The leasing activity is going well,” Noack said. “It’s one of the last infill parcels in that submarket. It will be a nice complement to the Sunrise corridor. It’s the last piece of the puzzle that remains undeveloped.”
Supermarket chain Raley’s bought Capital Nursery’s sprawling flagship property on Freeport Boulevard in Sacramento’s Land Park neighborhood in 2012. Raley’s has said it plans to build a new store on the former nursery grounds to replace its aging Freeport Boulevard supermarket, but it has set no timetable.
“We continue to plan and work through the processes required for a project of this magnitude,” spokeswoman Nicole Townsend said in a statement.
Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.