Matthew Renda

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November 15, 2013
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South County project will move forward

Construction of the Higgins Marketplace is on tap for next spring with an eye toward being fully operational by the summer of 2015, said Fred Katz, the head of development company Katz Kirkpatrick Properties.

The resolution of a court case has paved the way for the project, which calls for the construction of an approximately 60,000-square-foot retail store capable of housing a large supermarket with two smaller retail establishments (one 13,200 square feet and the other 6,500 square feet), along with two 3,500-square-foot drive-through restaurants and 482 parking stalls.

The project was initially approved in August 2009, but a lawsuit brought by a group called South County for Smart Growth prevented construction from proceeding. All told, Katz began the project approval process eight years ago, in 2005.

In a terse decision issued by the Third District Court of Appeals, the judges dismissed the fundamental assertions of Smart Growth’s complaint.

“The county did not err in failing to prepare and recirculate a revised draft EIR … (and) the county was not required to make findings regarding the feasibility of the staff alternative (and) the county did not rely on future traffic improvements, but instead relied on the current actual use of the road in question,” the ruling states.

The ruling is stridently critical of Smart Growth’s lawsuit with assertions such as:

“These same flaws undermine Smart Growth’s attempt,” and “Under the circumstances, Smart Growth’s contention lacks merit.”

Katz said the ruling clearly reflected a sense of frustration that the case was a waste of time.

Smart Growth can still appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court, which has a period of time during which it can decide to take the case or not.

Originally, Katz was scheduled to have a Bel Air marketplace occupy the large retail space, but he conceded, “We can’t make the deal with them today that we were going to make in 2008.

“Everybody’s numbers have changed,” he said.

The demographic study and potential sales estimates that were compiled in 2008 will have to be re-done to give a more accurate reflection of the community as it currently stands.

“We have to have projected sales, constructions costs and everything re-evaluated based on the five-year delay,” Katz said.

Nevertheless, Katz said in many ways the delay was a boon, as the economic vitality of the region has improved significantly since 2009.

“The world is getting better economically,” he said.

The community in western Nevada County has been calling for a Trader Joe’s for years, but Katz said their business model does not square with the available square footage of the shopping center.

“Whole Foods is a possibility,” Katz said. “I think the market would work for them.”

Katz also listed Raley’s, Safeway, Bel Air, Nugget Market and Food 4 Less as possibilities.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or call 530-477-4239.

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The Union Updated Dec 15, 2013 02:54PM Published Nov 16, 2013 08:51AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.