Developer’s grocery-store back-out retroactively undoes Allen Warren promise

North Sacramento council member cited incoming Grocery Outlet during reelection campaign

This is an extended version of a story that ran in the September 15, 2016, issue.

One of the accomplishments Councilman Allen Warren touted on his road to a decisive June reelection is no longer coming to pass.

According to the Sacramento Business Journal, the Petrovich Development Co. has reneged on a plan to bring a Grocery Outlet to a fresh-food desert in Warren’s district after the developer got into yet another dispute with the city.

“Citing uncertainty over city fees for the project, developer Paul Petrovich said he’s dropping plans for a 15,000-square-foot grocery store in North Sacramento,” the Business Journal reported August 22. Petrovich complained to the Business Journal that city inspection fees were being run up on his plans to lease the 1.25-acre lot to Grocery Outlet Inc.

During his reelection campaign, Warren claimed he engineered the incoming Grocery Outlet through a few well-placed phone calls.

Petrovich confirmed the accuracy of the Business Journal story, but declined to answer additional questions when contacted by SN&R. “I have never been treated fairly by SN&R and I therefore have no comment,” Petrovich wrote in an email. “It never does me any good and anything I say is turned against my efforts.”

Petrovich is in a legal battle with the city over another one of his projects, a planned housing development in the Curtis Park neighborhood, which has stalled over residents’ opposition to a proposed fueling center. Petrovich has said the fueling center is necessary to attract a Safeway grocery store to the project’s envisioned commercial center, but the city council refused to grant him a conditional use permit to build it.

Before suing the city in February, Petrovich worried some residents by floating the idea of bringing a discount grocery chain—like Grocery Outlet—to the neighborhood instead.

But what is anathema to one Sacramento neighborhood is highly desired in another.

In recent years, both the Sierra Health Foundation and the American Institute of Architects’ Center for Communities by Design have cited the lack of fresh food options as one of the area’s most pressing needs. In its 2013 community needs assessment, SHF also found disproportionately high poverty and mortality rates and low educational attainment bedeviling the greater North Sacramento area. In District 2, these are legacy issues, with UC Davis and the Prevention Institute finding the same food-access and health disparities more than a decade prior in separate reports. It’s unclear what will happen to the land now.

The Business Journal reported that Petrovich will retain the property and wait for a new tenant. Petrovich purchased the four parcels of land near the intersection at Del Paso Boulevard and West El Camino Avenue for $150,000 from the city’s Redevelopment Successor Agency, according to Leslie Fritzsche, senior project manager with the city’s Economic Development Department.

While the opening of a Viva Supermarket in Del Paso Heights helped spell the district’s food drought, residents have been asking for more.

“Our entire community just desperately needs a grocery market,” said North Sacramento resident Rob Kerth, who represented District 2 on the city council before Warren. “And if it’s not going to go there, we’re not going to get it.”