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Soon after we published an article about a community meeting held by the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op to present preliminary designs for its new location to residents and and business owners who might be impacted by the move, questions started pouring in, and parking-related questions topped the list.
“Why are they building another huge street-fronted parking lot in the urban core,” Sacramento Press reader Tom Runge asked in a story comment. “This will do nothing but create more dead space for the area.”
The co-op’s plan to move from its Alhambra Boulevard at S Street location to a new, larger store four blocks away at 28th and R streets has largely received positive feedback, according to urban planner and co-op representative Wendy Hoyt, but she said it’s early in the process and there are still details to be ironed out.
“The design is still being worked on, so there may be some adjustments here and there before we take it to the city,” Hoyt said.
[Update: 10:05 a.m.] The co-op has also produced video on the proposed relocation program:
Sac Press commenters had a few follow-up questions and suggestions.
“Why not put the parking on the roof instead and make it more bike and pedestrian-friendly?” Runge asked.
Rooftop parking sometimes makes sense in very compact urban development, according to Bob Lindley, lead architect on the co-op project, but for this project it would not be feasible – both because of the added expense, and because it conflicts with other construction and design priorities from the co-op.
“Land value has to be very high to justify the added cost,” Lindley said in an email.
Lindley said co-op planners are working to include many sustainable design features for the new site, including natural daylight via skylights and and an atrium to help keep the store cool – features that would be impossible tucked under a parking slab.
Steve Maviglio, co-op board president, said in a follow-up comment that the co-op is exploring the use of the roof for solar panels and possibly community gardening so it is effectively utilized.
Other parking concerns from commenters related to a shift in available parking from current surface lots and street parking to the construction of a parking garage across the street at 29th and S streets.
Parking is at a premium in downtown and Midtown, and Sac Press reader George Raya said it is especially problematic for staffers at the Department of Human Assistance building at 1725 28th St.
Raya said DHA employees compete for parking with their clients and with state workers who work nearby. Any reduction to the available spaces would cause a real problem, he said.
“Fights have broken out over parking,” Raya said. “It’s really rough here.”
The planned parking structure should mitigate some of those problems, Hoyt said. It would provide replacement parking for the current surface DHA lot, she said, and double the amount of current parking for the co-op.
Another commenter suggested opening more locations would be a better “expansion” for the co-op because it would eliminate the need for people to drive their cars to the store.
Maviglio’s response to the reader acknowledged the desire to encourage more use of public transportation, but said that, for many who shop at the co-op, that isn’t an option.
“A good chunk of our business is from beyond the city limits and the suburbs where public transportation isn't available,” Maviglio said.
Despite the many questions surrounding the project, Hoyt said she is glad for all of them and looks forward to receiving more.
“This is exactly the healthy kind of dialogue one would hope for on a key project like SNFC,” Hoyt said. “We look forward to further discussions with the public.”
The co-op has not yet filed a building application with the city Community Development Department Planning Division, Hoyt said, but expects to move forward with that step in the next few months.