City Beat

Curtis Park development sparks new fight over gas station plan

A construction worker carries lumber outside new cottages being built in the Curtis Park Village development on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif.
A construction worker carries lumber outside new cottages being built in the Curtis Park Village development on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 in Sacramento, Calif. rpench@sacbee.com

Looking for a place to pawn your wedding ring or pick up a new set of tires? Perhaps you need a payday loan or want to stock up on doughnuts for the big game.

Then head on down to Curtis Park!

What, you may ask, are those businesses doing in leafy and wealthy Curtis Park? So far, they exist only in a virtual version of the neighborhood, but it’s one that developer Paul Petrovich warns might become all too real if the neighborhood association gets its way.

For the better part of a decade, members of the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association have tussled with Petrovich over his plan to build homes and stores on the once-toxic railyard next to their neighborhood. Lawsuits were threatened, but never filed. And a ban on chain stores in the area was floated, a move some saw as a direct shot at the developer’s plans.

Through it all, the hard-charging Petrovich kept charging. His work is finally paying off: Workers have been out there for weeks, building the first line of what will end up being 500 homes nestled into a 72-acre plot of land in the shadow of Hughes Stadium. Safeway has also agreed to build a new store on the site, anchoring more than 250,000 square feet of shops.

But even as the work rolls on, it seems this is a fight that will never end.

Late last year, it emerged that Safeway wanted a gas station in its plans. That set the neighborhood association off. They wrote a five-page letter asking the city to deny a permit for the gas station. They said it would lead to major traffic and would damage the “quality of life and charm” of their neighborhood.

Petrovich hired former City Councilman Rob Fong to help. Fong said Friday that if the city rejects the gas station, Safeway will walk. And then?

“You’ll likely end up with a vastly different anchor tenant, probably a non-union, discount grocer that’s going to draw from an area much larger than Safeway,” he said.

Petrovich has painted quite the image of what Curtis Park Village would look like without Safeway. His firm produced a video showing blocky, nondescript shops with names like El Cervesas, ABC Check Cashing and Gold and Jewelry Exchange. There’s even a Hobby Lobby.

And if Safeway stays? That video shows Volvo station wagons rolling down a tree-lined boulevard, past cafes and upscale shops. There’s a Jack’s Urban Eats and a Sur La Table.

Eric Johnson, head of the neighborhood group, won’t fire back at Petrovich.

“Quality compromise is always possible when both parties have their eyes focused on a positive outcome,” he said.

An emergency neighborhood meeting is scheduled for next week. Petrovich’s message is pretty clear: Careful what you wish for, Curtis Park. Because you might just get it.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at sacbee.com/citybeat.

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