UPDATE, Tuesday, 1:05 p.m.: A Save Mart spokeswoman released a statement late Monday, confirming rumors that the grocery chain has a strong interest in being the anchor for the proposed shopping center at the southwest corner of Sylvan Avenue and Oakdale Road in northeast Modesto. If plans for The Marketplace shopping center are approved, Save Mart would occupy a 52,000 square-foot building at the site.
The Planning Commission told developers to redesign a proposed 18-acre shopping center in northeast Modesto after nearby residents opposed it.
The city planners didn't want to see driveways allowing vehicle access to the center on Hashem Drive; otherwise, they liked the plans for The Marketplace, proposed at the southwest corner of Sylvan Avenue and Oakdale Road.
Commissioner Sandra Lucas said residents of the Naraghi Lake area, just west of the proposed center, deal with enough fast-moving traffic on Hashem, part of which borders the site on the west. "The rest of the project is good," Lucas said.
The commission continued the rezone to its Sept. 17 meeting, so the developers can work with city staff on a redesign.
Dave Romano, the project engineer for the applicant, Berberian Holdings, said it may return with essentially the same plan. Any planning commission recommendation can be appealed to the City Council.
Romano said city staff had asked for two driveways for the center on Hashem, one for exiting vehicles and the other for neighborhood access. "We believe it makes the center more viable, and the (prospective) tenants we talked to would like to see" access on Hashem, he said.
The shopping center would include a 52,000- square-foot grocery store, other retail businesses, shops and restaurants.
No grocery business has been identified as the center's anchor. But Naraghi Lake area residents said clerks at the Save Mart on Oakdale Road, near Floyd, talk openly about plans to move to the bigger space in the Sylvan-at-Oakdale center. Save Mart spokeswoman Alicia Rockwell confirmed that the grocery chain "has a strong interest in being the anchor for the shopping center."
Residents opposing the center said it conflicts with the original plan for the Naraghi Lake area and subdivision and would intrude on their neighborhood with increased traffic, noise, glare and air pollution.
"Thirty yards across from my front window is going to be a wall and this big building," said Bruce Perry, whose home is near the proposed grocery store. "It's not going to be a nice place to live, and that's not good for myself and my family."
Naraghi Lake resident John Jepson, as well as other speakers, said the shopping center will draw traffic through the neighborhood. They also worried about empty buildings at The Lakes Shopping Center after Save Mart and possibly other stores relocate.
Businesses can move
City planning manager Patrick Kelly said Modesto has no zoning laws that prevent a business from moving from one location to another.
Commissioners praised the developers' architectural guidelines for The Marketplace, calling for decorative awnings, pitched roofs, stained-wood accents and trellises with climbing vines.
"This is a corner that is ready and right for a commercial center," Romano said. The long-vacant property originally was zoned for apartments. The City Council twice rezoned the site in the 1980s for shopping centers that never were built. Raley's announced its intention to build on the property in 1992, but then opted to put a store on Roselle Avenue.
The centers proposed in the past were about half the size of The Marketplace's 170,000 square feet of commercial space.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2321.