City of Citrus Heights Planning Ahead for Possible Sunrise Mall Redevelopment

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CITRUS HEIGHTS -- The city of Citrus Heights says it doesn’t want to be caught off guard if the venerable Sunrise Mall property is re-purposed and it has taken steps to create a plan for the 100-acre property, if owners decide to go in a different direction.

The Sunrise Mall is approaching 50 years old and is still in operation.

When the mall opened in 1971, indoor malls were the rage as a new concept in centralized shopping took hold worldwide.

But, in this retail environment the heyday of enclosed stand-alone malls is passing and that’s why the city of Citrus Heights is planning ahead.

Online shopping and a trend toward stand-alone retail has taken its toll on indoor shopping malls everywhere.

Melanie Murphy and her daughter remember how vibrant the mall was just half a dozen years ago.

“It’s been really sad to see a lot of the businesses go out of business and the mall becomes empty and fewer and fewer people there," Murphy said.

The city has now put a planning focus on the mall.

After it opened, it spawned a ton of retail around the Sunrise Boulevard, Greenback Lane intersection -- one of the heaviest traveled intersections in the entire region.

"The mall has always been very important, it’s our major economic engine," economic development manager Meghan Huber said. "Trends are changing so rapidly that we want to help anticipate and make things happen proactively."

The city plans to hire consultants to come up with a vision of what the city needs and wants.

That vision includes national trends in diversifying areas into mini downtowns where chain stores don’t dominate.

"Adding entertainment venues; that means adding experiential retail. "That means adding places to work and to live and to play," Huber said.

Three-quarters of the Sunrise Mall property is underutilized parking lots and city planners say that means it would be a blank canvas for the owners should they decide to go in a different direction.

The city says everyone will have a say before final guidelines are established.

"This is prime commercial real estate so there’s always going to be that tug and pull between what developers want and what the community feels strongly about," Murphy said.

It could be two years before a comprehensive vision for the area is developed and the city points out that there are five owners of the property and that ultimately it’s up to them what direction they want to take.

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