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Grass Valley wants a Target, unsatisfied with JC Penney, Kmart

Christopher Rosacker
Staff Writer

Three salient topics are scheduled for discussion at tonight’s meeting of the Grass Valley City Council, including the results of a retail study that found that shoppers want a Target in Nevada County, a public hearing on a planned senior development near a historic homeless camp and a commemoration of a prominent Grass Valley-born philosopher.

Survey: Grass Valley wants a Target; unsatisfied with JC Penney, Kmart

Grass Valley, and west Nevada County in general, is losing more than $200 million in sales annually, according to the Texas-based Buxton Co., which the city contracted for $65,000 in 2011 to analyze credit card purchases of locals shopping in other communities, such as Roseville, Auburn and Sacramento. With a CostCo and Super Walmart taking shape in North Auburn, Grass Valley could soon lose more dollars “down the hill.”

In August 2012, the council approved $7,500 in federal funds to gauge the community’s shopping preferences, which the city plans to wield in its efforts to enhance its retail environment and recruit new business, according to Jeri Amendola, Grass Valley’s economic development coordinator.

Through 630 online surveys and focus groups of 31 locals conducted March through May, the study reveals that most participants are unsatisfied with Grass Valley’s two big box stores, JC Penney and Kmart, and are willing to consider other large retailers, notably Target, as an option.

“Consumers are looking for the experience that larger retailers offer,” Amendola wrote in her report to council for tonight’s meeting.

Among the most desired businesses that coincided with Buxton’s spending patterns were Target, which 60 percent of participants said is a “good fit,” followed closely by Ross, Marshalls and Kohl’s, the report states. Other close contenders included Olive Garden, Famous Footwear, Pier 1 Imports and Jo-Ann Fabrics. Participants also prominently listed Trader Joe’s, Walmart, CostCo and Sam’s Club in the “write-in” section of the survey.

“The report substantiates that our community is loyal to its locally owned businesses and desires opportunities that expand their operations, but many did acknowledge that our local businesses need to improve on their selection, price and customer service,” Amendola wrote.

Council is tasked tonight with telling city staff what to do with the survey results.

Grass Valley already has several endeavors under way that are aimed at economic development. The first is the annexation of Berriman Ranch and the old Bear River Mill sites, which straddle Highway 49 along the city’s southern border and have industrial and retail potential. The second is the $25 million construction of Highway 49 on- and off-ramps at Dorsey Drive. While this second project is largely touted as providing easier access to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, it potentially makes a large swath of land abutting the southern intersection of Dorsey Drive and Highway 49 more attractive for development. That land is owned by Russell Jeter, a Washington resident.

“I’m not entertaining offers at this point,” Jeter said when reached by phone Monday. Jeter also said that he had no “concrete” plans for the property.

Public hearing for Gold Country Village

A Roseville developer, Ionic Enterprises Inc., is working with contractor Stamas Corp. to build 120 affordable senior housing units on 5.4 sloping acres on the hillside opposite Hills Flat Lumber Co. and DeMartini RV Sales, on the edge of the city’s limits on Bennett Street. In addition to trails cutting through overgrown brush, the undeveloped area has housed encampments of homeless people since at least the Great Depression, according to local historians.

Today’s hearing on the development will have council consider whether to approve the issuance of multifamily housing revenue bonds by a California state agency as a financing tool. In 2012, the council approved a similar resolution to support the financing proposal for this project. Since the project did not meet that funding cycle, there is a need for a new resolution for this year.

A proclamation to honor Josiah Royce

Born in a Grass Valley mining camp in 1855, Royce went on to become one of the United States’ most recognized philosophers.

Royce is considered the leading American proponent of absolute idealism — the metaphysical view that all aspects of reality are ultimately unified in the thought of a single all-encompassing consciousness, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

The last Grass Valley celebration of Royce was in 1956, the centennial of his birth. Perhaps the only lasting acknowledgement of his birth is a plaque near the entrance of the Grass Valley Library’s Royce Branch. The city’s proclamation will presented at a conference entitled “Royce, California, and the World” scheduled for Aug. 16-18 in Grass Valley, which is being sponsored by Empirical Magazine and the Josiah Royce Society, established in 2003 to encourage the study of Royce’s life and work.

The public portion of today’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Grass Valley City Hall, located at 125 E. Main St.

The agenda and staff reports for tonight’s meeting can be found at http://cityofgrassvalley.com

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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