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Grocery store seeks to expand but some concerned about design

The proposed new building for the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op on R and 28th Streets

The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op has outgrown its current location on the corner of Alhambra Boulevard and S Street and wants to move up to R and 28th Streets for more room. While the co-op makes plans to double its size to accommodate more customers, some groups worry that the new design could hinder pedestrians and bicyclists.

In a report to the City of Sacramento Planning & Design Commission, the co-op proposed a 42,446-square foot grocery store for retail and office space at the new location, compared to its current 16,000-square foot store.

“Our number one complaint is parking. We only have a handful of spots. And that includes bicycle parking, too,” said Steven Maviglio, president of the board of directors at the co-op. “On our busiest days, we’ve seen people circle around and leave because they couldn’t find a parking spot.”

The bustling supermarket has a small parking lot like other midtown businesses, but the proposed new building comes with an 86,178-square foot parking garage with four levels to accommodate 320 vehicles. But pedestrian and bicyclist groups have voiced their concerns about the design.

“The front of the store is facing a really busy street and also facing away from the neighborhood,” said Chris Holm, project analyst for WALKSacramento.

The entrance and parking lot will face R and 29th Streets near the Capital City Freeway underpass with the multilevel parking garage in the back. The area around the proposed building has a bus stop, light rail tracks and overflow parking from the county social services office. With the additional parking at the store and usage of the 28th Street alley for deliveries, Holm said the higher volume of traffic could disrupt safe pathways for non-vehicular traffic.

“There’s still a disconnect,” he said. “It’s a conflict, in my mind, with having parking out front and having the co-op make parking prominent. I think the design team put a lot of thought into the project and dealt with the challenges in that site. I wish it was more pedestrian-oriented.”

But with the skyrocketing demand of natural foods in recent years, Maviglio said providing enough parking is a must for the store’s growing customer base. The co-op, he said, does four times the business a conventional market does per square foot. 

“We’re bending over backwards to talk to bicycle groups and pedestrian groups on how to make this user-friendly. I think our design does that,” Maviglio said.

Both Maviglio and Holm said they believe the proposed project is closer to ensuring all types of traffic have a safe path to the store. The co-op will have its first hearing Thursday night at the Planning & Design Commission meeting. If the proposal is later approved, the co-op hopes to unveil its new store in spring 2015.

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Kibkabe Araya

  • I cannot believe Chris Holm and WALKSacramento would even waste their time on this! This is a much needed expansion/upgrade. I am so tired of people and orgs like this and Eileen Downes (The Citizens Against Alcohol Manufacturing in Midtown) that are constantly nitpicking and hindering business and growth in Sacramento. MOVE if ya don’t like it!!!

    • Owen Howlett

      So you’re saying that they shouldn’t have a say in what development happens in their own city? Only developers should have a voice…?

  • Brian Lambert

    Compaired to what? Ever walk pass the Trader Joes in east sac on a busy day? Talk about poor planning! There is a line of cars blocking the sidewalk at times. And the bike parking is limited and poorly done.

  • Ryan Schauland (f.k.a. ryuns)

    I feel like I’ve seen a lot of these headlines recently: _____ seeks to (expand/upgrade/invest in the city) but some (usually meaning just one person) are concerned”. From what Holm said, this sounds kind of like a non-story. He’s just saying that he thinks it could have been a little different, while acknowledging it’s a huge improvement. Considering it’s already such an improvement, I doubt this mild criticism will be enough to derail it at the planning commission.

  • Mark

    Really? Come on Chris Holm you need to worry about other things. So many of the co-op’s customers come in from all over the region to shop so adequate parking is a big deal. More parking and traffic does not necessarily mean it will be less pedestrian friendly. The current location is not more bike and pedestrian friendly -unless you are the few who happen to live in the couple blocks east. As for bikes.. look development in the city is always going to be one of trade offs. Some people oppose the new store for reasons having nothing to do with design and will use any excuse to stop it. WALKSacramento needs to work on things that really matter -like safe crosswalks and streetlights.

  • It would be great if they could sink a parking garage under the store like at Downtown Plaza, but the reality is that’s way too expensive, and while I don’t like the idea of a suburban-style parking lot in Midtown as a knee-jerk reaction, it works just fine at Safeway on 19th.

    I think someone is getting bent out of shape for nothing.

  • Steven Maviglio

    It should be noted that the parking garage is not just for the Co-op’s customers, but also for the county employees whose current parking will be displaced by the new store.

    We are confident that the city officials, after reviewing our design, will understand that the way the store is sited is the best of all worlds — particularly for pedestrians, bicyclists, and RT users. As the first step in this process, the Co-op had a series of meetings with owners, customers, and neighbors to talk about the store location and incorporate their ideas. And we have. The store also will be state-of-the-art in its energy systems, and its increased size will help us support more local growers.

  • It just wouldn’t be Sacramento if there were a few NIMBY’s trying to make a fuss out of nothing. Couple of points the author failed to make…

    1. While I wish the Co-op was growing to 48,000 sq ft of selling space… the space consolidates co-operations in five other building the co-op currently operates in, in addition to the 16K grocery store.

    2. The site is currently used by the county who has a large office whose employees currently use the site for parking. They will share the new parking structure with the co-op.

    3. I have to assume the author has never actually walked in the area, as R street is fully paved and developed with sidewalks on both sides of the street.

  • tex binky

    At the Co-op’s 40th anniversary party, there were some sketches for people to look at. “Where are the walkways?” “Where is the bicycle parking?” The people at the booth weren’t sure. They guessed there might be a crosswalk at the front entrance of the store, and bike parking around the edges of the parking lot. Yeah, next to the street, by the light rail stop. Isn’t is possible the co-op did not plan for pedestrians and bikes, as weird as that sounds? Currently there is a ribbon rack between the driveways, and a few street signs on S Street. Any amount of bike parking above that would be an improvement. Clearly the designers and planners haven’t done a grocery store trip on foot or by bike. It’s a bit different process than by car. Wouldn’t it be great to have a covered entryway, shelter or even a whole entry room for pedestrians and bicyclists right at the front of the store?!

    • Steven Maviglio

      Tex — Not sure who you spoke to, but the Co-op planned from the very beginning for pedestrians and bikes. Our plans clearly show a covered space for bicycle parking and we’re locating close to both a bus and an R/T shop, in addition to getting foot traffic from the county building. We also have a pathway from S Street near Temple and Revolution for a short cut.

      As for the existing location, the Co-op leased this existing building and is doing the best it can with its parking for bikes, but we don’t own it and it wasn’t built as a grocery store.

    • tex binky

      I spoke with people at the booth with the mockups at the anniversary party 🙂 It was two women and a younger guy, sorry I don’t know their names. A lot of people have questions, not just me. all i know about it is, I really don’t want to park my expensive bike with panniers and baskets far from the entrance (to prevent thievery, and also because groceries are heavy). If you say the bike parking is going to be well lit, secure, close to the store and covered, that’s great! The drawing at http://www.sacfoodcoop.com/images/snfc_relocate/newsiteillustrationlarge.jpg does not show it. But you’re talking about the PLANS. Where are the plans? thanks !

    • Steven Maviglio

      The plans and lots of info are on our website: http://www.sacfoodcoop.com. Check out the tab under Store Relocation Update.

  • Dan Allison

    Thank you, Chris Holm and WALKSacramento for suggesting improvements to the store design. I’m a co-op member, and have asked them to improve the design several times, but apparently to no avail. It seems to be an suburban design plopped into midtown, with parking heavily emphasized and bicycling/walking/transit an afterthought. I’ve seen no evidence that co-op management responded to member concerns about bicycle parking. I posted on this at http://gettingaroundsac.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/co-op-relocation/.

    • Steven Maviglio

      Dan — The Co-op held numerous owner meetings about the design of the store. And, in fact, it does have many design elements for bicycle parking and pedestrian traffic. It’s a far cry from a “suburban” design. But the fact of the matter is that most people carry more than one bag of groceries; they have multiple bags, giant water bottles, and other items that need to be carried in a vehicle. We have 3,000 customers per day NOW and less than 75 parking spaces. The relocated store doubles parking for both bikes and cars, and is located next to an R/T station.

    • William Burg

      So then, adding another door on R Street is a possibility?

  • What’s the big deal? The Co-op needs more space. The building at 28th and R provides more space. And more parking for all those fools out there who still drive. And don’t worry about the cyclists. We’ll find a place to lock our bike, because the Co-op owners know we have clout in this town. And money. Just put a nice string of bike racks right in front and everybody will be happy. It works at Safeway and it can work at the Co-Op.

    • Ryan Schauland (f.k.a. ryuns)

      Oh man, if we’re looking at Safeway for inspiration on bike parking, we’re in trouble. Crappy ribbon racks crammed next to the brick wall, with room for 6 bikes tops? (I know there are some by the froyo place, but not super convenient.)

  • Owen Howlett

    I’m very disappointed that they’re still going forward with this multi-story parking garage. They’ve consistently received a ton of negative feedback about it, but they don’t seem to really understand why people are so against it. Has the Co-op conducted a parking survey at the adjacent lot on R st between 27 and 28 yet? If not, then they don’t have a basis for saying that they need all those parking spaces. Not to mention the private lots under the freeway that are mostly empty.

    • William Burg

      Which adjacent lot on R Street between 27th and 28th? The church parking lot, or the parking lot for the food bank? The lots under the freeway are private and charge for parking, so they aren’t exactly an acceptable substitute for a free-parking lot on the same property–and would create the additional hazard of Co-Op customers having to cross R Street, an unsignaled intersection, with baskets full of groceries.

    • Ryan Schauland (f.k.a. ryuns)

      I’m not a fan of parking structures, but I kinda doubt it’s unnecessary. It would be a bad way to run a business if you just went around building unnecessary and expensive structures that serve only to annoy your neighbors.

    • Owen Howlett

      Opps, sorry, I meant 28th and 29th. The big surface parking lot. The City has models for predicting parking requirements based on zoning, but models always overpredict vehicle use and parking use. It would be better to base the parking requirements on a survey of how much parking is actually used at that location, and of course err on the side of less parking, in keeping with the urban location.

    • Owen Howlett

      And yes, making use of the private lots under the freeway is a longshot, but I feel it’s something that the City should at least take a look at.

    • William Burg

      The lot between 28th and 29th on R Street is the same lot where the Co-Op building is planned–half for the building itself, and half for the Co-Op surface parking lot. The lot is currently used by Sacramento County employees who work at the office building next door, and it’s pretty much full during 9-5 hours. Apparently the tradeoff with the county was to build a parking structure of equivalent spaces for the daytime workers, which Co-Op customers could use in the evening.

    • Steven Maviglio

      Actually the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, including 93 percent of owners who supported our relocation effort. The garage is necessary — it’s largely for the county employees, as Mr. Burg points out. The Co-op has about 3,000 customers per day on average in its existing location and parking for less than 75 cars.

  • i just want to make sure i can still buy a five dollar avocado.

  • Steven Maviglio

    They’re $1.29 — and organic!

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