Grass Valley to review a proposed 215,250-square-foot shopping center @ new Dorsey Drive interchange

Editor’s note: We had discussed this development being in the works, though I did not expect it to come up for conceptual review so soon — right in the thick of the election season. It will quickly become political fodder for both sides.

MEETING AGENDA
CITY OF GRASS VALLEY
DEVELOPMENT REVIEW COMMITTEE
9:00 A.M., TUESDAY, February 25, 2014
Hullender Room
Grass Valley City Hall, 125 East Main, Grass Valley, CA 95945
Members:

Jeff Wagner, Deputy Fire Marshal

Trisha Tillotson, Senior Civil Engineer

Thomas Last, Community Development Director

Tony Rosas, Architect

Yolanda Cookson, Planning Commission Representative
(Editor’s note: Yolanda also is Dan Miller’s campaign manager)

Conceptual Development Review (14PLN-03) of a preliminary site plan for a 215,250 square foot shopping center located at the southeast corner of Dorsey Drive and Highway 20/49 (APN’s 35-260-62, 63 & 64) in the CBP (Corporate Business Park) Zoning District.

The project site is located at the southeast corner of Highway 20/49 and Dorsey Drive. This 26.75 acre site is adjacent to the new off-ramp for the Dorsey Drive interchange. To accommodate retail development, the applicant will need to amend the General Plan and Rezone the property to Commercial and C-2, respectively.

This application is for a conceptual review of a preliminary site plan for a proposed shopping center. Proposed uses for the site include 170,875 sq. ft. of retail space, 30,450 sq. ft. for a movie theater, and 13,925 sq. ft. for restaurants. The restaurants indicate that drive-through service is planned. A total of 1,179 parking spaces are shown for the site. The applicant included a letter in this application which requests feedback on the following:

The staff report is here:
http://www.cityofgrassvalley.com/services/departments/cdd/staff_reports/drc_meeting/022514/14PLN03_022514.pdf

Screen shot 2014-02-21 at 2.23.59 PM

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

25 thoughts on “Grass Valley to review a proposed 215,250-square-foot shopping center @ new Dorsey Drive interchange”

  1. Proposed project probably works from an economics perspective. The approval will probably depend on whether or not the new space is located on a site where retail is a desirable land use.

    1. Dorsey Drive is “Hospital Drive” and medical offices. Can’t we leave it at that? Do we really need a shopping center when the downtown is struggling? Grass Valley’s shame is what I call “The Pit”. We do not need any more Corporate crap in Grass Valley. Retail, in this case, is not desirable land use.

    2. Can you elaborate a little on how you come to the conclusion that the economics probably works? Maybe if they assume that Loma Rica is full – so, what’s the status of Loma Rica anyway – is it all approved but not yet started, and if so, is it due to lack of buyers / lack of demand? My first impression of the project is “what are they smoking – where’s the demand?” but I don’t have a finger on the pulse of the market, so, I’d like to understand your conclusion a little more.

  2. Why let a brand new, congestion-free interchange go unclogged? This project (if it ever gets off the drawing board) will counteract the very purpose of the long-awaited Dorsey Drive interchange, whose primary function is to provide enhanced access to and from the medical community and Sierra College. Don’t turn Dorsey Drive into another Brunswick Basin.

  3. Anyone know the acreages and square feet and number of parking spaces of our other shopping centers (Fowler, Pine Creek, etc etc) for comparison? 1200 is a huge number, some context would help.

  4. I would caution that we should wait for more details. For example, what if the space was going to be used for a BriarPatch expansion. Or what if the movie theaters were going to be for Sierra Cinemas to consolidate in a more modern space. I don’t think it’s been finalized, but perhaps some of the businesses will be local businesses that are expanding. Also, developers tend to shoot high and then scale back. Having said that, there should have been more details in presenting this to the public. And the timing is odd: coming before DD is even completed.

  5. Hi Tom – I made my comment based on past (2010) economics work for the City. I am not sure about the size of the shopping centers you mentioned but the Glenbrook Basin has about .5 millions square feet of retail space and another .5 million square feet of other space. Some demand for new retail does exist in GV but the devil is in the details. All we know is the proposed project includes a theater and “other retail.” I have no idea if a theater could work but “other retail” could work depending on the details. You might want to check out the link below for more information. http://www.cityofgrassvalley.com/services/departments/admin/STAFFREPORTS2011/FINALGBREPORT.pdf

  6. Indeed. “The devil is in the details.” And the community relations, dropping this on the community in an agenda packet with no other explanation, was unsophisticated and/or arrogant. This doesn’t happen as much on the “Coast,” including pro-development areas such as North San Diego County. A little “po-dunkish,” regardless of what side you’re on. We need to do better, particularly with such a polarized community. Otherwise, we will always be polarized. We need some real leadership. This is not a “nicety,” it is essential if we are ever to move forward in a constructive way and build trust. I’m reminded of the city’s lawsuit against the county over land use by the airport. “Bull in a China Shop.” Do we ever learn anything? Or do we care? A lot of families do care, and it’s a good business practice. It’s what helps define a community – or not. It’s what makes people want to live here — or not. Our political landscape continues to be poisoned by a “my way or the highway” approach; we should not replicate it when it comes to economic development.

    1. Hi Niel,
      The Union and Grass Valley documents from last year (http://www.cityofgrassvalley.com/services/departments/cdd/pdf/13PLN18_InitialStudy_061313.pdf ) show that the property owner is Russell Jeter. His name does not appear on any of the current city documents, however. Wish the city was showing more transparency in its latest staff report when it comes to all the players who are involved.

      Here’s more background from an article in The Union last July:

      “The second is the $25 million construction of Highway 49 on- and off-ramps at Dorsey Drive. While this second project is largely touted as providing easier access to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, it potentially makes a large swath of land abutting the southern intersection of Dorsey Drive and Highway 49 more attractive for development. That land is owned by Russell Jeter, a Washington resident.

      “I’m not entertaining offers at this point,” Jeter said when reached by phone Monday. Jeter also said that he had no “concrete” plans for the property.

      http://www.theunion.com/news/7407096-113/grass-valley-royce-council

      So as recently as July Jeter claimed he had no “concrete” plans for the property. Huh?

      Also, I know Gallelli of Roseville is also involved, as the city documents show.

  7. Here is more detail about the property, pointing to Russell Jeter of Anacortes, Wash.

    Click to access 13PLN18_InitialStudy_061313.pdf

    “PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The proposed project includes a Development Review application to add approximately 23,000 cubic yards of soil from the Dorsey Drive interchange project to the southeast corner of the lot. The project will: 1) result in a fill area that ranges from 1 to 20 feet in height; 2) create a level pad that is approximately 150 by 320 feet; 3) create 2:1 slopes with erosion wattles placed at the bottom of the fill; 4) remove several Grey pines; 5) use an existing road as a haul road; and 6) avoid disturbance of the previously identified mining waste areas.
    The project site has residential development to the north and east, industrial development to the south, and Highway 20/49 to the west. The area of proposed for fill slopes gently to the south. The project site is undeveloped, but contains evidence of past mining activity. Vegetation in the area of fill includes Grey pines, Manzanita, and other smaller shrubs and grasses. The area adjacent to the fill includes several McNab cypress trees.”

  8. The abundance of immediate negativity before the details are known is troubling to me and not conducive to the needed growth and opportunities in our community. Put on your creative positive hats folks, it will lead to a better outcome.

  9. Hi Ed,
    Let me REPEAT two points I made in this thread. Listen up, please:

    1. I would caution that we should wait for more details. For example, what if the space was going to be used for a BriarPatch expansion. Or what if the movie theaters were going to be for Sierra Cinemas to consolidate in a more modern space. I don’t think it’s been finalized, but perhaps some of the businesses will be local businesses that are expanding. Also, developers tend to shoot high and then scale back. Having said that, there should have been more details in presenting this to the public. And the timing is odd: coming before DD is even completed.

    2. Indeed. “The devil is in the details.” And the community relations, dropping this on the community in an agenda packet with no other explanation, was unsophisticated and/or arrogant. This doesn’t happen as much on the “Coast,” including pro-development areas such as North San Diego County. A little “po-dunkish,” regardless of what side you’re on. We need to do better, particularly with such a polarized community. Otherwise, we will always be polarized. We need some real leadership. This is not a “nicety,” it is essential if we are ever to move forward in a constructive way and build trust. I’m reminded of the city’s lawsuit against the county over land use by the airport. “Bull in a China Shop.” Do we ever learn anything? Or do we care? A lot of families do care, and it’s a good business practice. It’s what helps define a community – or not. It’s what makes people want to live here — or not. Our political landscape continues to be poisoned by a “my way or the highway” approach; we should not replicate it when it comes to economic development.

  10. Thanks Ed. Let’s be clear: We support construction projects in our towns. We understand the reasons for growth and the need to “feed the beast” of GV tax coffers. We run a successful business. Among other achievements, I helped start a business that was sold to CBS for $2 billion, so I get it. But we do not run our business like this — and never would. We inform and communicate with our customers. We build trust with them. What happened here — springing a big project on the locals without proper education, context or just plan neighbor-like manners — is not a good business practice, and now it’s biting GV in the butt. And it is NOT standard operating procedure in a lot of other towns in California. What is it with the GV “old guard” or City Hall planning guy? As a result, there’s going to be backlash on this project. The TV stations from Sacramento are coming up to report on it as we speak, the local RQC could be reignited, and it’s going to be a big issue in the local election. If somebody wanted to pick a fight, they’re going to get one. Good going. Perhaps we need some new people who can communicate rather than combat. It’s a strong perception about GV that needs to change. People don’t want to come here and raise their families with all this polarization. It hurts the “demand” that is needed to make these projects successful. I’m not talking about “no growthers”; I’m talking about working families and professionals. In short, it was avoidable and showed a real lack of foresight for whatever reason. I still can’t figure out if it was arrogance or ignorance. Some apologies and fence mending is in order ASAP. Good luck.

    1. I am new to all of this and am trying to get educated. In short format, what would have been a more constructive sequence of events in your opinion?

      1. PS: It would be helpful to the whole process and help enlighten those of us who want to get educated about what goes on for you to be specific . Who do you consider to be the “old guard?” Wsho is the planning guy? I look forward to your sequence that would have avoided all of the projected upset. Things have to start somewhere and it is my understanding this is one of the first steps.

  11. Ed,
    This is the opening story on the 6 p.m. news on CBS Channel 13, another big friggin’ controversy in our community, broadcast throughout the region. I’m watching it now and am embarrassed for all of us. I know you are somewhat new to this, but I also understand you are good friends with Grass Valley City Council members, including Jan Arbuckle, and you helped with the sales-tax measure in GV. The city and developers should have reached out to the community and been much more transparent. Even a press release would have helped. Goodness.
    Measure N background: https://sierrafoothillsreport.com/2012/10/23/measure-n-campaign-seeks-to-keep-taxes-local-but-spent-all-3k-with-out-of-area-businesses-reports-show/

  12. I am friends with all of the City Council members because of my involvement in the Community and participation in getting Measure N passed. Nothing wrong with being “good friends” with folks. Frenemies are not my cup of tea. Since we just recently met at Tofanellis I consider us acquaintances………….. maybe friends in the future. who knows. Just because I am friends with someone does not mean I agree with them on all of their positions and thoughts. I try to be open and listen and not start out with a negative take or make generally negative remarks and insinuations. Looking forward to tomorrows meeting and hopefully some creative, factual discussion. You going?

  13. Ed,
    The “old guard” is the same group of folks (longtime politicians, civic leaders and contractor leaders) who long have advocated an aggressive pro-development strategy in Grass Valley, often with a “my way or the highway” mindset. Based on my experience (as a resident and business person), the City’s Community Development Director should have advocated and/or executed a more transparent strategy for this project, along with the City Council members who supported it and voted for the Dorsey Drive Interchange. The developer/property owner and Contractors group should have played a major role too. There should have been some better community outreach beyond dropping the project in an agenda packet. A press release would have been helpful. This is a common community relations strategy; now it’s “crisis management.” And the Sacramento television news station and social media has taken the “first steps.” Here we go again! No, I won’t be at the meeting. But I sure hope it gets sorted out ASAP. BTW, many more people got the TV version of this story than the people who will attend the meeting. Unfortunate for GV.

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