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Housing plan has fewer homes

A major development proposed for a former mill site south of Grass Valley has drastically slashed the number of proposed houses and replaced them with a larger business park.

The adjusted SouthHill Village development application will be presented before the City Council at 7 p.m. Thursday. Council members could accept it and let it move through the process or call for further revisions.

Either way, the project still is a long way from full approval.



The 65-acre project, at the Bear River Mill site between Highway 49 and La Barr Meadows Road, was originally pitched by Catlin Properties in 2002 and revised in 2004. Developer Paul O’Sullivan envisioned a village with a retail shopping complex and a business park with almost 300 housing units, 226 of them in lofts, townhouses and cottage homes.

According to Joe Heckel, the city’s Community Development director, Grass Valley officials wanted the land to retain more of its original flavor “because SouthHill has been primarily a commercial block of land since the 1960s.




“They’ve yanked the residences down in half,” Heckel said, and expanded the business park area “using a campus style.”

The original 283 housing units now have been cut to 122, including 25 lofts above businesses, 16 townhouses, 24 small cottages and 57 lots for larger single-family homes. The amount of building space for the business park has more than quadrupled from almost 42,000 square feet to 192,000 square feet.

“We listened to community input as to the balance of uses,” O’Sullivan said Monday. “We reduced the housing numbers and increased the business park space to better meet the wishes of the community. That’s what community leaders wanted.”

Project engineer Dale Creighton, of SCO Engineering in Grass Valley, said last month that a third Safeway could go in at the site, but Safeway would not confirm his information.

O’Sullivan has worked with Safeway Inc. on other store development projects. In an earlier interview, he said he had been contacted by The Home Depot and Wal-Mart about the site but had turned them both down.

The SouthHill project is one of four special development areas established by the city in 2004. The others include the much larger North Star project, the Kenny Ranch and the Loma Rica Ranch projects, which ring the city.

All four are proposed for parcels scheduled to be annexed into the city over the next 14 years.

The Loma Rica project application will get a similar screening from the City Council at 7 p.m. Monday.

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To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

Know & Go

• What: Special Grass Valley City Council Meeting on the SouthHill Village project application.

• When: 7 p.m. Thursday.

• Where: City Hall, 125 East Main Street, Grass Valley.


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