Firm sells North Auburn retail site to Wal-Mart | TheUnion.com

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Firm sells North Auburn retail site to Wal-Mart

An Auburn firm announced this week it has sold land in North Auburn to retail giant Wal-Mart to build a 155,000-square-foot store.

Bohemia Properties announced it sold an 18.5-acre property near the corner of Luther Road and Highway 49 for $10 million to the retailer earlier this year. It was speculated Wal-Mart and grocery chain Costco were in the running to purchase the land.

Wal-Mart’s move into North Auburn could have some impact on retail in Grass Valley said Jason Gallelli, an executive vice president with Voit Real Estate Services, a retail real estate firm in Roseville.

“You have a very successful Kmart, and you have a very

successful JCPenney in Grass Valley,” Gallelli said. “You’d have to anticipate a slight hit to those two with a Wal-Mart in North Auburn, but I don’t think it would be significant enough to alter whether they stay open or closed.”

Additionally, having a Wal-Mart in North Auburn wouldn’t particularly keep the company out of Grass Valley if it wanted to expand to Nevada County, Gallelli added.

“They are two completely different markets,” he said. “All it may really impact is their timing if they determine there is enough density in Grass Valley to justify a move there.”

Bohemia held off on announcing the move until this week due to existing litigation, officials said.

The company is being sued by the Alliance for the Protection of the Auburn Community Environment (APACE), which contends the project will cause major traffic problems, environmental and social damage to Auburn.

“It is our intent to fight this project and the significant impact it would have on the Auburn community,” said Victoria Connolly, a leader for the group. Currently, APACE is appealing an early March court decision to allow the project to move forward.

The APACE lawsuit is baseless, said Bohemia Spokesman Steve Cavolt.

He stressed the positive impact the estimated $30 million project could have on the Auburn community.

“(Bohemia owner Jim) Conkey made it clear from the get-go he wants to get local contractors in on this project,” Cavolt said.

Conkey stipulated before selling the property he’d like the preference for work on the planned store to go to area contractors, Cavolt said.

“There’s some language in the contract, and nothing is ironclad, but if local contractors have the qualifications then they can certainly bid on these contracts,” said Cavolt. “They’ve got to be competitive, but if they are, they’ll get preference.”

Wal-Mart officials were not available for comment Tuesday. It is unclear when the company will begin construction on the site.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail kmagin@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.