The man proposing to build a shopping center near the Dorsey Interchange Project says he’s still moving forward despite predominantly negative comments received from members of the public at last month’s meeting of Grass Valley’s Development Review Committee.
All but one of the individuals who addressed the committee during public comment expressed concerns or opposition regarding the 26-plus acre development. Some suggested that the Dorsey Interchange Project had been sold to the public under a false pretext.
“I supported the Dorsey off-ramp for what I understood (to be) access to the hospital,” Jim Coffin told the committee. “Now this project looks like it was already in the works.”
Russ Jeter, the landowner and project applicant behind the Dorsey shopping center, said he purchased the property in 2008, and started working on the initial site plan in November 2013.
That purchase was after the Grass Valley City Council approved the Dorsey Drive Interchange in 2007, authorizing the state to proceed with a final design. Construction broke ground roughly six years later, in April 2013.
Jeter said that when the project broke ground, he had not yet begun the initial site design.
In response to the public comment received at last month’s DRC meeting, Jeter said the initial design and pre-application process has only just started.
“We hope those voicing concerns about the project and new retail in Grass Valley will keep an open mind, and offer constructive input as the design and review process moves forward,” Jeter wrote in an email to The Union.
The next step will be to revisit the Development Review Committee’s pre-application process.
“After the pre-application process is completed, full project design will be undertaken and the formal application will be prepared. When the formal application is submitted, the proposed project will undertake a rigorous study, public review and hearing process,” Jeter wrote.
That will likely involve hearings with the Development Review Committee, planning commission, and city council.
Jeter says the next phase of this debate is likely to focus on conceptual architecture designs, landscaping, lighting and signage — but he’ll also have to overcome objections from officials and residents about what kind of businesses can move into the new shopping center once it’s complete.
The initial site design calls for several drive-thru restaurants and a large movie theater. Both of those ideas have met with opposition.
Jeter contends that his development proposal will benefit the local economy by stemming some of the $200 million in annual retail leakage identified in the Grass Valley Retail Focus Group Report commissioned by the city of Grass Valley and prepared by Chabin Concepts, in Chico.
Jeter also says that the project will create hundreds of new jobs — and not just in construction.
“This is an opportunity for a wide range of new jobs from entry level to management,” he wrote. “It’s also an opportunity for new, locally owned and operated businesses and existing local businesses wanting to expand.”
Anyone concerned with how the new shopping center might adversely affect local mom-and-pop businesses may find consolation that one particularly controversial retailer is not on the list of potential tenants.
“A Wal-Mart is not being considered,” Jeter told The Union. “While the proposed center is intended to provide the retail services the community has asked for and supports, Wal-Mart will not be proposed.”
Readers can find the staff report on the shopping center by following the link provided.
To contact staff writer Dave Brooksher, send emails to email@example.com or call 530-477-4230.