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Similar settings, two different concepts

The Sacramento Business Journal today featured an article on the proposal by developer Paul Petrovich for a shopping center at the SW corner of Howe and Fair Oaks Blvd. Petrovich's "The Boulevard" is billed as a site located at the intersection of two major streets -- one of which crosses the American River -- and amidst thousands upon thousands of people and close by many people who are well-off (see Graphic #1). The "Arden Creek Town Center" site by development company Merlone Geier at Watt and Arden is described as essentially the same (see Graphic #2), except: 

  • the number of vehicles passing per hour (an indicator of potential for auto-oriented businesses) is much more at the Petrovich site than it is at the Merlone Geier site
  • the demographics around the Merlone Geier site present higher household incomes (an indicator for potential "upscale" sales) within walking distance than at Petrovich's, which did not cite incomes within 1 mile, perhaps due to the prevalence of close-by senior citizen complexes, college dorms and apartments.
  • at 97,000 s.f., the proposed Merlone Geier center is 3 times bigger than Petrovich's 31,000 s.f. set of buildings and at 9.35 acres, the Merlone Geier site is three times the size of Petrovich's 3.1 acre site. This would seem to imply similar flexibility to place structures on site, however Merlone Geier is seeking permission to build in the set-back areas close to the streets, whereas Petrovich's proposal complies with codes by placing buildings away from the streets.   

The two proposed retail centers are close to each other and both seek to capture sales from the fairly well-off disposable incomes found in their overlapping market areas. There really isn't much difference between the two market areas, yet the proposals have very different perspectives. Merlone Geier's concept is fast-food-auto-oriented and not "upscale", whereas  Petrovich's seeks more "upscale", patio-dining-oriented tenants. 

There IS, though, one major difference between the two sites. Although it is immediately adjacent to Arden Arcade, the Petrovich site is in the City of Sacramento, which is governed by a City Council that has been trying to re-brand Sacramento as a cool, trendy kind of place, i.e. they have "a vision". The Merlone Geier project is in unincorporated Arden Arcade, governed by a Board of Supervisors that seems unable to articulate an inspiration for our community, as demonstrated by the Supervisors' palpable sense of relief whenever a developer offers ANY proposal -- no matter how un-cool or old school, whether constituents want it or not.  

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