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Preliminary designs for the new Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op at 29th and R streets that will offer shoppers nearly 10,000 additional square feet of store space and more than double the amount of available parking were unveiled to residents and business owners at a community meeting Tuesday at Revolution Wines.
“I’m excited for every aspect of it,” said Tahoe Park resident Donna Parten.
Parten, a co-op member since the 1970s, said she is looking forward to more parking outside of the new location, and the increased space on the inside – similar to what she experienced at the former Elk Grove co-op location.
“I’m hoping it will be spacious and have more room for products so we’re not running out of them,” she added.
The community meeting was hosted by the Newton Booth Neighborhood Association and representatives from the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op at Revolution Wines, one of the businesses that will be adjacent to the planned 22,000-square-foot store.
“The co-op is a member-owned facility, so it’s important that everything is done publicly and transparently to the community,” co-op representative Wendy Hoyt said Wednesday.
The new location will allow the natural foods store to consolidate all five of its satellite offices, provide more parking for shoppers and employees and support more local growers with the increase in retail floor space planned for the new location – 9,000 more than the current 16,000 square feet of space.
Newton Booth Neighborhood Association Vice President John Hagar said questions asked at the meeting centered on site design, usability of the space in and around the new location, and how the new business will fit with established businesses adjacent to the site, including Revolution Wines and Temple Coffee.
“There were legitimate concerns,” Hagar said. “I think people left the meeting a little more assured about the project than when they arrived.”
Some of the questions posed by the residents were not easy to answer, Hagar said. The project design is not finalized, and a lot could change in the plans between now and when the project reaches the city Planning and Design Commission – which might not happen for another three months, according to Hoyt.
“We want to take the time to do it right,” Hoyt said. “We want to make sure the building and the plans are as green and sustainable as we can make them before we turn anything in to the city.”
Hoyt said a formal project application will be filed with the city in about two months, and the projected start date for construction is roughly late fall 2013.
Greg Bitter, principal planner with the city Community Development Department, said that when co-op representative file a formal application for the project with the city, the entire process from application to approval will take approximately four to six months, depending on the level of environmental review the project needs.
Tuesday’s community meeting had a fairly low turnout, Hagar said – about 30 people showed up – but that may be a good sign for the co-op if the project is to remain relatively non-controversial.
“Most people are excited about it and really aren’t too worried about the details,” Hagar said. “The people who came had specific concerns, and they went away feeling their input was heard and that something would be done about their concerns.”
Hagar said opening the co-op relocation proposal to community discussion was “tricky” in terms of timing. The association board wanted to make residents and neighbors aware of what is coming down the road, but didn’t want to start the discussion before there was something solid to talk about.
“We wanted to make sure there was community input, but we wanted the conversation to be productive,” Hagar said.
Although the neighborhood meeting took place months ahead of the application and design process, Bitter praised Hoyt and the neighborhood association representatives for the early community outreach on the project.
“The earlier you start talking to folks, the smoother the process goes,” Bitter said. “Hoyt is a good consultant because she encourages her clients to talk to the community and also to act on comments they receive.”
Hagar said the association board will keep an eye on the progress of the project as it winds through the design and planning process at the city level. If an additional neighborhood meetings are necessary, he said, the association will host more.
Sacramento Press intern Sara Godley co-wrote this article.