Sunrise Village Rehab in Motion

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG)  |  Story by Jacqueline Fox
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CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - Plans are quietly being put into motion for the substantial rehabilitation of the Sunrise Village shopping center in Citrus Heights.  Just don’t expect much to happen in the very near future, as developers who now own the center say it is too soon to pin down tenants, let alone talk about renovation timeline.

San Francisco-based Merlone Geier Partners, which has a local office Rancho Cordova, announced late last year it had purchased the center and was planning to launch a $25.7 million renovation this year.  However, when called for details in late January, Gary Muljat, property manager said he could not discuss the renovation plans at this point and had no targeted start date for the renovation plan.

“Really, it’s just way too soon to talk about anything connected to the center project right now,” Muljat said.  “We are really in the very early stages of negotiations for leases and our plans are just way too preliminary.”

The Sunrise Village Center is one of the largest in the region.   Located at the Northwest Corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Madison Avenue, the center is anchored by Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts and Tuesday Morning.  Currently, there are 18 open “suites” or commercial spaces available in the center according to Core Commercial’s website, the center’s leasing agent. 

Last year, Lyon's Restaurant made a return to the Sacramento region when it opened up inside the former 5,200-square foot building that previously served as home to Fuddruckers, which served gourmet burgers and kid-friendly fare before closing in 2014.  Lyons brought its family-friendly “Denny’s style” eatery back to the region following a string of store closures and bankruptcies. 

But it also has been reported that Merlone Geier intends to break up Sunrise Village in to various parcels to create a more contemporary shopping experience.  While it isn’t clear if Lyon’s can actually survive as an appropriate tenant for the project, what is clear is the pent up demand by locals for more upscale and popular fast-casual dining options for the entire Sunrise Boulevard corridor and the city proper.  Olive Garden and a Benihana are also located in the center.

The Habit, a wildly popular custom-burger chain is also located in Sunrise Village, and, scattered chock-a-block among the empty suites, are two ubiquitous fast-casual options, including Subway and Wienerschnitzel.  There also is a Rite Aid, a convenience store and a hearing center.

A break-up of the center to include more contemporary facades and attract a wider mix of eateries and perhaps even a brewery or two, one of the fastest-growing components on the food and beverage landscape right now, could be just the right formula for success.

Across the street on Sunrise, the revamp of the strip mall at Sunrise Boulevard and Alta Sunrise Drive is nearing completion.  The remodel, a significant modernization project, includes a refreshed Nation’s Giant Hamburgers, a long-standing tenant in the center, and the arrival of Dos Coyotes Border Café and Pizza Rev, a fast-fire pizza chain. 

Without question, several strip malls on Sunrise are crying out for help and, in the case of Alta Sunrise, getting a fresh new look to support the corridor’s growth.  But most critically, the purchase and planned makeover for Sunrise Village, coupled with the remodel of Alta Sunrise, represent a clear move in the direction of elevating the city to destination status - something the city is pushing for from within.

Yet these development plans are taking place against a backdrop of uncertainty for what is arguably a troubled retail landmark on the boulevard: The Sunrise Mall, which was built in 1971.  It is no secret the mall is struggling to remain relevant, lease empty shops and attract customers while other malls across the region and countrywide, including the Roseville Galleria, offer an entertainment component to the retail shopping experience to draw shoppers in. 

Speculations over what the owner, Spinoza Real Estate Group, has in mind for the property, if anything, have been circulating since the New York-based company purchased the 1.1 million-square foot mall in 2015. 

Meanwhile, the Sunrise Marketplace Business Improvement District, located inside the mall, has taken a proactive approach.  The BID managers have been awarded funding and approval from the city to purchase a temporary stadium in order to revive a summer outdoor concert series, sporting events, community fundraisers and more in the mall’s parking lot beginning this year.