Roseville City Councilman Scott Alvord stands on an early March day in a dirt lot adjacent to Pleasant Grove Boulevard in west Roseville, where soon he hopes to attend a groundbreaking on this roughly 3-acre site for the Village Westpark, a commercial retail development led by Juli Hilton, a former professional golfer.
Plans have been in a bit of flux lately, with a project groundbreaking that was supposed to happen this month pushed to either June or July, after bids for the project came in high. “It’s not that it’s not going to happen,” Hilton says. “It just needs to come down a little bit.”
While Hilton and her team wait, so do residents in one of the Sacramento region’s most sparsely served areas.
West Roseville’s residential communities have rapidly developed in recent years, spreading farther toward the western border of Placer County. But while explosive residential development occurred, there have been few commercial amenities in the area, with developers awaiting a critical mass of population that could support new shopping centers.
City of Roseville Planning Manager Greg Bitter says new retail development is precipitated by more people. “A lot of times for these commercial users, really the best idea is you have to draw a, I don’t know what, mile circle around it and see how many homes are inside that circle,” he says. “And if you have a whole quarter of the circle that’s empty, you’ve got to speculate on your own about that.”
Bitter is unable to give an exact figure on the number of people living in west Roseville, though he says the West Roseville Specific Plan dates to 2004, and that there’s capacity for about 20,000 dwelling units. That represents about one-seventh of the city’s current population.
Alvord says Village Westpark is proposed to bring a two-story coffee shop and restaurant that would overlook Nela Luken Park, directly beside the development. “This is what the neighbors want,” Alvord says. And it’s just one of the commercial developments underway in west Roseville.
E-Commerce Slows Retail Development
Homeowners who have bought in new neighborhoods in west Roseville have to travel several miles on Blue Oaks Boulevard for basic goods and services, such as a gas station or grocery store.
Alvord is hopeful about Hilton’s development, because of its proximity to his home in Westpark, one of the farthest west and newest parts of the city. “This is the one I’m most excited about because it’s closer to my house,” Alvord says. “We can ride our bikes on the bike trail.”
A combination of factors have held back retail development in west Roseville, Bitter says. “It’s pretty prevalent in the literature that e-commerce has had an impact on brick-and-mortar retail,” Bitter says. “That’s been a big thing. There’s a need for more homes. You need more rooftops now than you used to need for brick and mortar. We’ve been catching up for a few years from the recession, but the whole e-commerce phenomena has had a big impact.”
Some developers have been willing to take their chance in recent years. Near the corner of Baseline Road and Fiddyment Road, the Denio’s family and developer Nick Alexander have done grading work and secured their wetlands permit for Baseline Marketplace, 750,000 square feet of retail space.
Hilton, who played a year on the LPGA tour in 2004, says she opted to develop Village Westpark after living in Roseville for nearly 15 years and hearing from residents about the need for more businesses. She’ll operate the coffee shop, which she’s calling MoJo’s, and a restaurant, which she’s calling 747.
Hilton also has 16,000 square feet of other space, with letters of intent secured from businesses for about half of it. Amid the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered businesses and led to profound economic uncertainty, Hilton is considering holding off on building out her retail space until there’s interest. But she’s pressing on with plans to have her restaurant and cafe open by April or May 2021. “It’s kind of just investing in my community,” Hilton says.
An Opportunity Waiting to Happen
Alvord drives by a CVS drugstore at the corner of Pleasant Grove Boulevard and Fiddyment Road in early March. “We call that the Westpark Mall,” Alvord jokes. Across the street is a vacant parcel owned by Safeway, which operates another store roughly 3.5 miles away on Woodcreek Oaks Boulevard.
Alvord would like to see something happen with that parcel. “It’s a highly cherished corner,” he says.
Bitter, who’s worked for the city six years, says he has never spoken to anyone from Safeway or any developers about the property. The existing Safeway will eventually face competition from a Nugget Market slated to open on Woodcreek Oaks Boulevard on 30 acres purchased in 2017.
It’s unclear when the new store will open. Nugget hasn’t broken ground, but City of Roseville spokesman Brian Jacobson says all necessary approvals from the city are in place. Alvord estimates the Nugget will open in 9-18 months.
Further up Fiddyment Road, at the corner of Blue Oaks Boulevard, developer Jason Gallelli has been going back and forth on a lease agreement with a grocery store for his project, The Plaza. Neither Alvord nor Bitter will reveal the name of store, but Alvord says, “The first any type of store that goes in out here … will have a monopoly.”
Overall, Alvord seems hopeful about what could be in store for west Roseville. Hilton is hopeful too. “It’s kind of taking the chance being the first ones out there,” she says. “But I know bigger developments will follow. So, hopefully, people will support us.”
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