Higgins Marketplace inches toward finish line
Ground has been broken at Higgins Marketplace.
After more than a decade of planning and debate, an appeal and a lawsuit, construction has begun at the lot on Highway 49, south of Combie Road.
The Roseville-based Katz Kirkpatrick Properties is the project developer of the lot’s four commercial buildings, including a 30,000-square-foot Holiday Market, which is set to open by July 4, according to Katz Kirkpatrick Properties Principal Fred Katz.
The developer had invested $5 to $6 million dollars into the project before breaking ground, said Katz.
In a 8,500-square-foot building, El Dorado Savings Bank and a nail salon have signed lease agreements, said Katz. An additional one or two restaurants will also be there, he said.
A separate, 6,000-square-foot building on Highway 49 will be a sit-down restaurant, said Katz. The potential tenant wants to “see a vibrant shopping center in existence before they commit to move forward,” he said.
The final 11,400-square-foot store will likely include a cellular phone company, said Katz. He hopes to finalize the agreement in the next 30 to 60 days.
The developing agency has constructed 40 shopping centers in over 40 years, and at 16 1/2 years this project sets a record for taking the most time.
“Our previous record was 12 years,” said Katz.
Holiday Market is set to open by July 4 but could be sooner if there’s a dry winter, said Katz. Holiday Market officials couldn’t be reached for comment.
In 2009, Katz obtained approval to begin construction but was slowed by a lawsuit from the South County Citizens for Smart Growth, which alleged the company violated the California Environmental Quality Act.
A Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the county and the company, and an appellate court affirmed that decision in 2013.
After navigating the court system, Katz construction could have begun earlier if it weren’t for issues with Caltrans.
“What (Caltrans) approved in 2004,” he said, “they changed their mind about in 2018.”
Building permits have been issued for two buildings, one of which includes Holiday Market, said Nevada County Planning Department Director Brian Foss.
The other two buildings have not been permitted, because the developers weren’t ready for it, said Foss.
“I don’t think they were sure they wanted to start the clock on the building permit,” he said.
Eric Sams, a board member on the South Nevada County Chamber of Commerce, doesn’t know how much sales tax revenue the development will bring.
But it should be significant, he said.
The CVS in South County is the single-largest sales tax generator in the unincorporated part of the county.
“I would imagine this is an even bigger enterprise,” Sams said.
Sams is scheduling a town hall meeting sometime in October to discuss Higgins Marketplace, which he said will likely include Katz and Nevada County Supervisor Ed Scofield, who represents South County.
In general, Sams said he was appreciative that Holiday Market was becoming a regional outlet in the area, including at Lake of the Pines and Lake Wildwood.
“I love the fact that they’re stepping up,” he said.
Sams believes the market will attract people returning home from their Sacramento or Roseville commute.
Scofield agreed, noting the store’s convenience.
While Scofield expects sales tax revenue to increase, he said the project’s bigger impact is that it will add jobs for the county.
“Sales tax was never the primary reason for me supporting this project,” he said.
A lot of people will still go down the hill to purchase goods from large box stores and “it’s hard to compete with that,” he said.
It’s taking longer to develop spaces for commercial use, said Katz.
“Every year there are more approvals or entitlements required,” he said.
Part of the problem, he said, stems from the easy-to-develop spaces having already been developed.
Another aspect to the delays is tied to the popularity of online shopping to the detriment of brick-and-mortar retail.
“I think these long projects are going to be more normal,” he said.
For Higgins Marketplace, Katz believes the project will be successful, especially as it serves an area that gets a lot of traffic — “50,000 cars a day” — and is in need of retail shopping.
“All’s well that ends well,” he said.
To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4219.
Update: This story has been updated to reflect Eric Sams is a board member for the South Nevada County Chamber of Commerce.
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Raised in the deserts of New Mexico, Kaylee Argenbright met a striking change of scenery in the Sierra Nevadas and is rapidly becoming a part of the Nevada County community.