City Beat

Labor union nearly stalled major Sacramento construction project before reaching private deal

An architectural rendering shows the aerial view of a large corporate campus planned for East Commerce Way and Arena Boulevard in Sacramento’s North Natomas neighborhood. The campus may be the West Coast headquarters of health insurance company Centene.
An architectural rendering shows the aerial view of a large corporate campus planned for East Commerce Way and Arena Boulevard in Sacramento’s North Natomas neighborhood. The campus may be the West Coast headquarters of health insurance company Centene. Stantec, Hines, city of Sacramento

Construction on a massive Sacramento corporate center believed to be the West Coast headquarters of a Fortune 500 health care company will likely start in a few weeks after a construction workers’ union dropped its appeal of the project Monday.

LIUNA Local 185 had appealed the planning commission’s approval of the corporate center at East Commerce Way and Arena Boulevard in North Natomas, stating the environmental review of the project “does not fully address impacts on air quality, greenhouse gas, health risks, biological resources, and traffic,“ according to a city staff report.

But city officials, the project developer and the union reached an agreement over the weekend and the appeal was dropped Monday, according to Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, who represents North Natomas.

“We facilitated a discussion between the two groups that allowed them to resolve any outstanding issues they have,” Ashby said. “It’s an extremely important project for the city of Sacramento and the region as a whole.”

Union representative John Zervas confirmed the withdrawal of the appeal was filed Monday morning. “The terms of the settlement between the parties is confidential,” he said.

The city of Sacramento signed a multimillion-dollar incentive package with Missouri-based Centene last year that could result in the company employing up to 5,000 employees on a North Natomas campus. That figure will likely include the 3,000 employees Centene already has in the region.

City officials and Centene have not said where the company’s preferred North Natomas site is, but a cluster of parcels at East Commerce Way and Arena Boulevard are zoned for the future development of an employment center. Real estate firm Hines is planning to build five four-story buildings totaling 1.25 million square feet of space on the site, along with a 17,160-square-foot day care center, according to a city staff report.

Ashby said Hines has indicated they plan to start construction in early October.

Centene has not finalized its decision to open a campus in Sacramento. Company spokeswoman Sandy McBride said in a July email to The Bee, “We are still working through the process and will reach out to you if and when we have more to share.”

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