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Grocery store seeks to expand but some concerned about design

The proposed new building for the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op on R and 28th Streets

The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op has outgrown its current location on the corner of Alhambra Boulevard and S Street and wants to move up to R and 28th Streets for more room. While the co-op makes plans to double its size to accommodate more customers, some groups worry that the new design could hinder pedestrians and bicyclists.

In a report to the City of Sacramento Planning & Design Commission, the co-op proposed a 42,446-square foot grocery store for retail and office space at the new location, compared to its current 16,000-square foot store.

“Our number one complaint is parking. We only have a handful of spots. And that includes bicycle parking, too,” said Steven Maviglio, president of the board of directors at the co-op. “On our busiest days, we’ve seen people circle around and leave because they couldn’t find a parking spot.”

The bustling supermarket has a small parking lot like other midtown businesses, but the proposed new building comes with an 86,178-square foot parking garage with four levels to accommodate 320 vehicles. But pedestrian and bicyclist groups have voiced their concerns about the design.

“The front of the store is facing a really busy street and also facing away from the neighborhood,” said Chris Holm, project analyst for WALKSacramento.

The entrance and parking lot will face R and 29th Streets near the Capital City Freeway underpass with the multilevel parking garage in the back. The area around the proposed building has a bus stop, light rail tracks and overflow parking from the county social services office. With the additional parking at the store and usage of the 28th Street alley for deliveries, Holm said the higher volume of traffic could disrupt safe pathways for non-vehicular traffic.

“There’s still a disconnect,” he said. “It’s a conflict, in my mind, with having parking out front and having the co-op make parking prominent. I think the design team put a lot of thought into the project and dealt with the challenges in that site. I wish it was more pedestrian-oriented.”

But with the skyrocketing demand of natural foods in recent years, Maviglio said providing enough parking is a must for the store’s growing customer base. The co-op, he said, does four times the business a conventional market does per square foot. 

“We’re bending over backwards to talk to bicycle groups and pedestrian groups on how to make this user-friendly. I think our design does that,” Maviglio said.

Both Maviglio and Holm said they believe the proposed project is closer to ensuring all types of traffic have a safe path to the store. The co-op will have its first hearing Thursday night at the Planning & Design Commission meeting. If the proposal is later approved, the co-op hopes to unveil its new store in spring 2015.

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