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If you build it, will they come?

New proposed shopping center attracts unemployed students
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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The new proposed Rocklin Commons shopping center north of I-80 on Sierra College Boulevard and Granite Drive is attracting unemployed Sierra College students hard hit by the sluggish economy. Third-year student Cassy Lish just landed a job in the retail industry but said it hasn’t been easy. “I have been searching for a job for a year,” Lish said. “It’s been that bad.” According to the city, Donahue-Schriber Realty Group L.P. is seeking approval for the 415,000-square-foot retail center located on the more than 40 acres of undeveloped land. The city was told Kohl’s and Target are interested in opening at this location. “I will hope that if we build it, they will come,” said Rocklin City Manager Carlos Urrutia. “The Sierra College Interchange is the one of the most desirable highway commercial locations left undeveloped in the entire region.” According to retail data from CB Richard Ellis Research, the third quarter of 2009 had only one major shopping center come out of the ground in the Sacramento region and it was located in Davis. Rocklin is in desperate need of new tax revenues as the city has lost nearly $10 million in budgeted revenue this year alone. “It will create sales tax revenues for the city,” Urrutia said. According to city documents, the project is anticipated to increase the total employment in Rocklin by 1.2 percent based on 2006 economic data. Most of the work will come from lower-paying service jobs but temporary construction workers will also boost that number. Donahue-Schriber could not be reached for comment. “It will be good for college kids looking for jobs,” Lish said. “If they could get people to fill it instead of sit there empty.” Recently laid off Sierra College student John Taylor said a vast number of empty commercial pads available all over the city and near the campus appears to be a big problem. “There are a ton of buildings that are built and just sit,” Taylor said. According to CBRE, there is more than 8 million-square-feet of rentable space in the Rocklin and Roseville area. That number has increased more than 2 percent in the last year alone. Urrutia said the vacancies are a problem right now but he is hopeful about the future. “The world doesn’t stop,” Urrutia said. “All those vacant buildings one day will be occupied.” Besides the economy, lawsuits from neighboring Loomis have delayed construction of proposed developments across the street including Wal-Mart, The Home Depot and Lowe’s. “Everytime we try to approve something we get delayed procedurally through court procedures because Loomis constantly challenges us,” Urrutia said. “Rocklin Commons has not been challenged yet but I fully expect that they will go after that too.” The city council is holding a public hearing on the Rocklin Commons project at their next meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8 in the Rocklin City Council Chambers.