A plan to replace Sutter Memorial Hospital in east Sacramento with a development of up to 120 homes was met with glowing reviews Tuesday night by the Sacramento City Council, which unanimously approved the project after just 20 minutes of debate.
The Sutter Park project will replace the 20-acre hospital surrounded by quiet, tree-lined streets. Sutter Memorial, which will be moved to Sutter’s expanding midtown campus in the coming months, has been the site of thousands of births over the decades and is affectionately known as Sacramento’s “baby hospital.”
“Sutter Memorial undoubtedly has a legacy in this region,” Sutter Medical Center CEO Carrie Owen Plietz said.
Still, residents don’t appear to be upset that it’s closing. The Sutter Park development was warmly received by neighbors and community associations. After some initial concern about what would replace the heavily used hospital campus, neighbors applauded the development team’s willingness to make changes they wanted.
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Those changes included adding green space and pedestrian access to the site, and removing a large senior apartment complex from the plans.
“You have a textbook on how to do outreach and how to do development that is compatible with the neighborhood,” said Councilman Steve Cohn, who represents east Sacramento.
Four east Sacramento residents testified to the council about the project. All four spoke in favor of the plan.
Paul Noble with the East Sacramento Improvement Association said he had heard of “no organized opposition to this project.”
“(The developers) went out before the project was fully formed, they looked for ideas and they listened to what people had to say,” he said. “(The plan) reflects the diversity of the architecture that already exists in the neighborhood.”
Sutter Memorial’s decommission is scheduled to take place this winter, followed by the hospital’s demolition. Home construction at the site is expected to begin in 2016.
In granting its approval of the project, the City Council agreed to rezone the property from a hospital use to a residential area.
Stonebridge Properties, a subsidiary of construction giant Teichert, is leading the project.
No specific designs have been released for the homes planned for the site, but the developers said the neighborhood would include a variety of home styles and that similarly designed homes will not be placed next to one another.
Stonebridge president Randy Sater said more than 1,000 neighbors were briefed on the plan and spoke favorably of the “eclectic, anti-suburban designs” of the homes.
He said the project will include 1.8 acres of open space.
Among the design concepts released by Stonebridge are small groups of “cottages” sitting around a common courtyard and a row of homes facing a long park space.
Roughly 5,000 square feet of commercial space is part of the plans and the developers said possible tenants for that area would include a coffee shop, dry cleaner and bike repair shop.
The reaction to the Sutter Park project was in stark contrast to neighborhood opposition to the McKinley Village development just over a mile away. That proposal – calling for 336 homes on 48 acres bordered by the Capital City Freeway and an elevated railway line – is scheduled for a City Council vote later this month.