Commercial developments in Nevada County lagging, but not dead | TheUnion.com

Commercial developments in Nevada County lagging, but not dead

Commercial real estate projects — like more than a dozen residential development proposals — have stalled out in Nevada County in recent years.

Unlike the housing projects, some of which are moving forward, there has been little progress on the retail proposals that drew much interest as recently as a year ago.

• Higgins Marketplace, a south Nevada County shopping center development, has been in limbo for years.

The 83,722-square-foot commercial property just west of Lake of Pines has been on a long path forward. In 2009, it received approval from Nevada County supervisors to begin construction on a 50,060-square-foot anchor store, originally slated as a Bel Air supermarket, and 11,400 square feet of retail shops.

That same year, a group known as South County Citizens for Smart Growth brought a lawsuit against the company and Nevada County, alleging a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act on multiple fronts during the project approval process.

That same year, a group known as South County Citizens for Smart Growth brought a lawsuit against the company and Nevada County, alleging a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act on multiple fronts during the project approval process.

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A Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the county and the company, and an appellate court affirmed that decision in 2013. A leasing agent was hired with Holiday Market appearing on a development brochure, but there has been little progress since.

"We're waiting for the economy to turn around and for enough tenants to make the thing economically feasible," said Steve Kirkpatrick of Katz Kirkpatrick Properties. "Pre-recession, you could borrow money to build without having all the space leased, but now they want all the tenants in place. It is much more difficult to finance developments."

And, said Kirkpatrick, the "institutional" tenants with a proven track record that he needs commitments from are not making relocation or new location decisions.

Kirkpatrick said there is interest in the Higgins project, but he would not identify any potential tenants; he added the project still has five years left on its "entitlement" — the approvals for the right to develop property for a particular use.

• Plans for a 44,400-square-foot, four-story hotel at East Main Street and West Olympia Drive in Grass Valley also are on indefinite hold. In January of last year, Grass Valley's Development Review Committee reviewed a preliminary application for the project, which included a four-story hotel with 2,100 square feet of commercial space, a 3,900-square-foot drive-through restaurant and a 3,200 square foot commercial building. The project drew opposition, but has not progressed to a formal submittal of any plans, Community Development Director Tom Last said.

"It's in process," said Sean O'Neill, a civil engineer from Genesis Engineering and a representative for applicant Hilbers M&M, "We're trying to decide what we're going to do."

• One project soon to resurface is Dorsey Marketplace, a proposed residential and community center at the corner of Highway 20 and Dorsey Drive that includes 181,900 square feet of retail space, drive-through restaurants and an apartment complex. The Development Review Committee hosted multiple meetings on the project as well as a walking tour of the proposed construction site last spring. In August, an opposition group formed under the banner Keep Grass Valley Great.

The project has been undergoing revisions and is currently in the Environmental Impact Report process, said Katy Schardt of Compass Commercial Group.

"We are making progress," she said.

The draft EIR is being prepared, Grass Valley Community Development Director Tom Last said, adding, "We are waiting on some information to finalize that."

Contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar at 530-477-3236 or by email at lkellar@theunion.com.

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