BOARD TO GET UPDATE ON NORTH AUBURN REDEVELOPMENT
The Placer County Redevelopment Agency is laying the groundwork for a second major effort to strengthen the Highway 49 commercial corridor by supporting North Auburn shopping center projects.
The county Board of Supervisors will be asked Tuesday to support the plans by authorizing the county to seek up to $2 million in Community Development Block Grant funds. The grant would be used for public improvements at Rock Creek Plaza, a shopping center at the southeast corner of Highway 49 and Bell Road that is scheduled for a major facelift and expansion this year or next. The CDBG program is a federal initiative administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
During Tuesday’s meeting, board members will receive an update on the agency’s efforts throughout North Auburn.
“I am very impressed at how much the Redevelopment Agency has accomplished already in North Auburn, and excited about the projects planned for the future,” said board Chairman Jim Holmes, the supervisor who represents Auburn and much of North Auburn.
“The agency’s projects help create new jobs, improve traffic circulation along Highway 49 and bolster the community’s economic base. It’s a great example of how much public agencies can accomplish in partnership with the private sector.”
Last year, the Redevelopment Agency launched its first major project in North Auburn: improvements to Highway 49 adjacent to Auburn Plaza, a 70,000-square-foot shopping center being built on the east side of the highway north of Luther Road.
In that effort, the agency is spending approximately $3.9 million on public improvements along Highway 49. Most of the money is state grant and loan funds.
The highway is being widened from four to six lanes between Luther and New Airport Road, and traffic signals and turn lanes will be installed at Highway 49 and Hulbert Way.
At Rock Creek Plaza, the block grant funds would be used to:
· Widen and reconfigure Highway 49 next to the shopping center;
· Provide improved landscaping and pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians along the highway, Bell Road and Quartz Drive;
· Improve public transit shelters on Quartz;
· Improve lighting along pedestrian and bicycle paths on Quartz; and
· Repave Quartz.
The agency’s goals in North Auburn include supporting the business community, improving public infrastructure, eliminating blight, improving the environment, and increasing the supply of workforce housing.
Projects that the agency currently is involved in include:
· Commercial loans and building-façade loans to businesses and commercial property owners in the redevelopment area. The agency has made several loans and has several pending applications.
· A Highway 49 beautification project that will complement the roadway and infrastructure projects already under way. The beautification work will include sidewalk, bus stop, landscaping and median improvements. The agency currently is negotiating a design contract. The initial focus will be on an area that stretches from Kemper Road to north of Bell.
· Landscaping around a new traffic roundabout at the DeWitt Center and streetscape improvements along the two roads that intersect at the roundabout: First Avenue and Willow Creek Drive.
· Upgrades to a sewer-siphon system and lift station that serves much of the Bowman commercial corridor. By improving system capacity and preventing spills, the upgrades will promote infill development in the Bowman area. The agency has committed $2 million in bond funds to the project.
· Financial assistance that has helped make seven affordable homes available to low-income households at the Atwood III development in North Auburn. Eight more affordable homes are planned there.
Redevelopment funds from the North Auburn area also will contribute to the development of other workforce housing in western Placer County. Last December, the agency released a request for proposals for development of affordable housing in West Placer.
The Board of Supervisors created the Redevelopment Agency in 1991 and established a redevelopment area in 1997 focused on the Highway 49 corridor between Nevada Street and Joeger Road and the Bowman commercial area that parallels Interstate 80.
The agency often serves as an economic development catalyst by helping the private sector overcome obstacles to development.
“The development potential of the Auburn Plaza site and nearby parcels has been apparent for years, but a major obstacle stood in their way: development would trigger the need to widen Highway 49 and fund other costly infrastructure improvements,” board Chairman Holmes said. “The agency stepped in to help because the improvements will benefit the public and the center will provide a minimum of 54 jobs.”
Potential future projects for the agency include:
· Hotel developments in the Bowman area;
· Improvements to the California Welcome Center Auburn;
· The second phase of Auburn Plaza;
· Additional commercial projects; and
· Additional streetscape improvements.