City OKs development of new retail center

Developer admits no tenants have been secured for site
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Rocklin City Council members have approved the development of a 23,600 square foot retail center, the Center at Secret Ravine, on Sierra College Boulevard just south of Interstate 80. Tuesday night’s approval came despite the developer’s admission that no tenants have been secured. Developer Donahue Scriber expects to transform the five-acre site into four retail buildings with 118 parking stalls. “This is a project that we’ve been waiting for, for a long time,” Council member Brett Storey said. “We’ve had to sit through delays in funding for the whole (I-80) interchange and the economy. We owe it to the developer to move forward with this item.” Jan Petersen, vice president of Development Services for Donahue Schriber, said the development has been delayed by the economy, but it’s time to start moving on it. “We are certainly not trying to ‘build it and they will come’,” Petersen said after the meeting. “We are actively soliciting tenants’ interest.” The council’s decision comes on the heels of a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruling that cleared the way for the development of Rocklin Crossings, Donahue Schriber’s adjacent property. Earlier this year, a group of residents, calling themselves the Rocklin Residents for Reasonable Growth, sued the city and the developer over the proposed 490,000-square-foot retail center, which would be anchored by Wal-Mart and Home Depot. They argued the environmental impact analysis was flawed on the traffic impact and the perceived glut of retail vacancy in the region. According to research by commercial real estate broker CBRE, the 2011 second quarter retail vacancy rate for Rocklin was at 21 percent. Kieth Wagner, the attorney representing Rocklin Residents for Reasonable Growth, said the Crossings development would only add to urban decay. “This is a classic case of dumb growth,” Wagner said. “Occupy the spaces that are already approved and built. Don’t build more when you are already running into untenanted large shopping centers without proper revenue that will end up not being able to survive and go under.” In his ruling, Judge Timothy Frawley denied the group’s petition based on lack of evidence. The group has until December to appeal. Petersen believes the company’s huge investment in the development of the Sierra College Boulevard/Interstate 80 corridor will be attractive to potential tenants. “We don’t believe (it’s too much square footage),” Petersen said. “We think, for its location, there isn’t any site like this anywhere up and down the (I-80) corridor, so we believe we can attract tenants from a far field.” In July, the city was on the hot seat following public outcry over the clear cutting of 330 oak trees at the developer’s Rocklin Commons project on the northwest side of I-80 and Sierra College Boulevard. That site is being billed as 380,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space anchored by Target with plans for a possible theater. Development of the Rocklin Commons site could result in the elimination of 221 oak trees, while the newly approved Center at Secret Ravine will result in the cutting of 107 more trees. Petersen said the developer is following the city’s approved oak tree mitigation rules by saving as many trees as possible. “We love to save trees whenever we can. We’ve been actively working with local people to try,” Petersen said. According to city documents, a number of trees will be replanted at the new sites. “There are probably at least 20 or so (trees) that are not healthy. Naturally, if something doesn’t happen to them they are going to die anyway,” Petersen said. Rocklin Commons and Rocklin Crossings could open as early as the fall of 2013 with the Center at Secret Ravine expected to be completed by 2014.