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Midtown neighborhood reacts to release of McKinley Village project plans

The lot as seen from the end of Alhambra

Update: We spoke with the developer late Monday afternoon and an article on their response is in the works. 

After an investment group turned in an application to the city for a new development near Midtown, a local neighborhood group convened on Saturday, May 4, to discuss the impact of the proposed project.

Last Thursday, May 2, the city released Riverview Capital Investments’ final plans for McKinley Village. Under different names and developers, the project had been proposed several times in the past, and last failed in 2006. The current model is a housing development with 328 single-family homes planned to go into 48 acres wedged between Capital City Freeway and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks near Sutter’s Landing Park in Sacramento. It was intially presented to neighborhood groups in February.

The proposed $120 million development is adjacent to the Marshall School Park-New Era neighborhood in Midtown, where residents gathered Saturday afternoon to study the latest plans and maps and discuss the potential neighborhood impact.

We’ll speak with Riverview today (a representative said they weren’t available over the weekend) , and they will likely have supporters they can refer us to, but many of the residents in the meeting on Saturday were opposed to the plans.

Their principal concern was traffic. The development will have a vehicle and bicycle path from Sutter’s Landing Park to Midtown, and from C Street and Elvas Avenue to East Sacramento. But residents believe there should be a path for vehicles opened to Alhambra Boulevard to lessen the potentially heavy traffic onto the residential streets. Currently, the developer has the Alhambra opening only for pedestrians and bicycles.

“I’ve seen what a deterrent traffic is to our neighborhood. It’s a very fragile community,” said 20-year resident Al Alvarez. “To have that much traffic come in on 28th Street would be very challenging.”

Other residents echoed support for a development, they say this development could induce traffic congestion on its narrow streets.

“We’ve seen a lot of possibilities for that space. We’re pleased to see residential development, but we’re very concerned about access,” said resident Laura Legrand.

What sets McKinley Village apart from its predecessors is it will only have housing. Neighborhood activist George Raya said that the lack of commercial space means it will cause more traffic issues than previous versions would have.

“This will have nothing. You won’t be able to get a Starbucks,” Raya said. Even for a cup of coffee or to pick up your dry cleaning, you will have to exit.”

Raya and other residents were also concerned about flooding. They say the levee would have to be punched to accommodate McKinley Village. City maps of the California State University-Sacramento levee show that if there was a breach, the plot of land reserved for McKinley Village has the highest risk of flooding in the area.

“It floods. It doesn’t have any drainage. There’s a need to get rid of the wastewater,” Raya said. Like many residents, he said he’s seen the large ponds that develop during the winter rainfall and stay as late as March.

For 25 years, developers have returned to the piece of land to make it into a sustainable community equipped with homes and businesses. In 1988, “Centrage” was supposed to mimic a miniature European city, with space for offices, retail stores, a restaurant, a daycare, a hotel and a lake. Four years later, the city council axed it.

The project was revived again as “Capital City Marketplace” in 1996, with a shopping center including two large stores and 13 smaller stores, restaurants, a hotel, an auto mall and a gas station. A year later, the developer withdrew the application.

Becoming “The Village” in 2006, the project proposed over 400 housing units, retail stores, a park, a church and open space. That died in 2007 when current developer Riverview Capital Investments withdrew the application.

In 2008, the conversation came up again to tweak the 2006 project by mainly decreasing the number of homes. Now what sets McKinley Village apart from its predecessors is it will only have housing.

Some longtime residents have been opposed to the development since it was first proposed and have not changed their mind.

“I have opposed it from the beginning since it was Centrage in the big box. It’s bringing traffic into a Midtown neighborhood and it’s not a Midtown development,” said Jan Maltzan, who’s lived in the neighborhood since 1974.

For resident Michael Murphy, the plan just doesn’t fit in the central city.

“It’s like taking an Elk Grove development and putting it in the middle of Midtown and East Sacramento,” he said.

The proposal will need to be approved by city council before it can go forward. According to the planning division paperwork, home sales are scheduled to begin in spring 2015.

The plans as they were released by the city on Thursday:

McKinley Village Plans

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