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Watt’s Marketplace II poised for comeback

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POSTED December 15, 2009 1:37 a.m.

LATHROP – A retail shopping development that was abandoned when Richland Planned Communities pulled out of its Central Lathrop project is poised for a comeback.

It may be a while before the first shovel of construction dirt is moved, but the 51.75-acre vacant field property on the northeast corner of River Islands Parkway and Golden Valley Parkway immediately to the north of Target shopping center at Mossdale Landing is about to receive commercial resuscitation in the form of a new memorandum of understanding struck between the city and Watt Lathrop, LLC, the developer of Lathrop Marketplace II.

The Lathrop City Council will consider approving the proposed new agreement tonight at the regular council meeting starting at 7 o’clock in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 390 Towne Centre Drive. At stake in this project is a commercial center approximately 500,000 square feet in size proposed to be developed in two phases: the first one to be a 200,000-square-foot retail development with the rest to be comprised of a major retail development.

The new agreement would pick up where Richland Communities left off.

“Certain improvements necessary for the development of Lathrop Marketplace II have not been completed by Richland and Richland has indicated that it does not intend to complete or fund completion of the Lathrop Marketplace II/Phase I infrastructure improvements in the near future,” city staff informs council members in the report being discussed tonight.

Members of the council may not even have to discuss this item since it is filed in the agenda’s consent calendar which the council members could approve in toto without any further discussion. The exception would be if one council member, or somebody in the audience, requests to pull it out of the calendar for additional questions or explanations.

Some of the key elements in the new memorandum include improvements for Golden Valley Parkway from River Islands Parkway to Lathrop Road, provision of west water treatment capacity or sewer service, three traffic signals and a storm drain system. Golden Valley Parkway is the major thoroughfare that runs parallel to Interstate 5 and Manthey (West Frontage) Road on the west side of the Target shopping center which is generally referred to as Lathrop Marketplace I, also a project of Watt Lathrop.

Per the provisions of the Central Lathrop Specific Plan area in which Richland Communities was the master developer, Richland was supposed to have “completed certain backbone infrastructure improvements… and certain sanitary-sewer and storm-drain improvements” but did not deliver them.

The memorandum defines the financial lines that indicate the respective responsibilities of the city and the developer, Watt Lathrop for the proposed commercial project.

Home Depot was earlier slated to be the anchor of the Marketplace II project but had to bow out when the city could not deliver sewer service to the development. By bowing out, the do-it-yourself corporation escaped the fate of Lathrop High School, about the only thing that was completed in the Richland Planned Communities project. As everybody knows by now, the new high school campus opened with no sewer service available.

Wastewater is currently being pumped and hauled out of the campus to the Lathrop wastewater treatment plant at the Crossroads Commerce Center location.

Roseville-based Richland was a 1,500-acre project that promised to build 6,800 houses plus 5 million square feet in commercial, retail and office spaces along the freeway corridor. In addition, the development plan called for one high school, which was completed, two K-8 elementary schools, a fire station, a town center, and neighborhood parks and linear parks along the San Joaquin River.

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