By Benn Hodapp
East Sacramento is home to a 48-acre plot of land that currently lies uncultivated and unused. Plans to turn the area into new housing have failed over the years, but Riverview Capital Investments (RCI) has begun the early stages of getting the idea back on track.
The project, dubbed McKinley Village because of the land’s proximity to McKinley Park, would be made up of new homes for people who wish to live near the downtown area. RCI is headed by developer Phil Angelides, who was also part of the 2006 McKinley Village plan. The 2006 design is being updated for the company’s 2013 attempt. Coming from Arden Fair Mall, the land is visible from Business 80, looking east.
Megan Norris, vice president of RCI and spokesperson for the project, detailed what the company is doing.
“We are currently updating the proposed design of McKinley Village taking into account input that we have received from the community and current market information about the desires of consumers/potential homebuyers who are seeking to live in or near downtown, midtown, and the East Sacramento and McKinley Park neighborhoods,” Norris said in an e-mail.
No final plans have been officially submitted for a vote and may not be submitted until sometime in the spring, but that hasn’t stopped some East Sacramento residents from paying close attention.
At a regularly scheduled East Sacramento Preservation meeting on Feb. 12, some 25 residents showed up to hear what was going on at the mere mention of the housing project getting back on track.
Ellen Cochrane, president of East Sacramento Preservation, said that she expects the numbers of concerned citizens to climb rapidly as the plan moves forward.
“Usually our meetings are attended by 5-10 people, but word got out that McKinley Village was going to be discussed,” Cochrane said. “That is still a very small number compared to what we expect when a final plan comes.”
The Feb. 12 meeting was used by RCI’s Norris and Bret Hogge to ask residents for possible improvements to the 2006 plan. One of the questions posed by those in attendance was whether a traffic study will be done. Cochrane called the possible traffic ramifications of the project “a huge concern,” particularly on Elvas Avenue.
There are no current financial figures for the project, but Norris said “we will have the capital resources to build the community, particularly given the increasingly strong demand of homeowners who want to live in a sustainable, urban infill neighborhood.”
While RCI wants to push forward, Cochrane remains skeptical that the plan will be a success.
“I can’t speak for everyone, but my feeling is that not doing anything with the land is fine as far as residents are concerned,” Cochrane said.
Cochrane also said that there are a number of residents who would like to try to turn the area into a Soil Born farm. The Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture & Education Project is an organic farming non-profit that promotes healthier eating among people in Sacramento.
“It would be a legacy to leave for our children,” said Cochrane.
Norris said that RCI hopes to have model homes available in 2015 if all goes according to plan.
“We will ensure that the community is well designed with strong community amenities, tree-lined streets, attractive parks and public spaces, and homes with architectural distinction,” Norris said.