The city of Atascadero could front nearly half the cost of road improvements that would be needed if a Walmart and neighboring shopping center are built on the citys north end, according to an amended project study released Thursday.
For about seven years, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and The Annex have proposed shopping centers with housing across from each other in a largely rural area at Del Rio Road and El Camino Real.
The developments, which arent approved yet, went in together on an environmental study last year to determine how their projects would affect roads, noise and the environment. The city plans to use that study, along with Thursdays update, this summer to help determine whether to approve the plans.
The city allowed the update, which Walmart paid for, after the retail giant and The Annexs Santa Barbara-based developer, The Rottman Group, couldnt agree this past summer on how to fund $4.5 million in estimated road improvements.
The way the first EIR was written, it said the project (or the applicant) would be responsible for constructing the interchange, said Warren Frace, community development director.
Because the report didnt define whether the phrasing meant both developers or just Walmart, Frace said that the shopping centers disagreed on the cost share. In order to move past the developers impasse, the update now suggests that the city build roundabouts on the overpass instead of the project fronting those costs. Consultants say future development, as defined by city growth estimates through 2025, would reimburse the city.
The consultants used a calculation to determine that the builders of future development would be responsible for 47 percent of the road improvements, while Walmart and The Annex would be responsible for 53 percent. Of that, Walmart would be responsible for about 29 percent, or nearly $1.3 million, and The Annex would need to contribute about 24 percent, or about $1.1 million, according to the report.
Those costs come from a new type of fee to be collected from Walmart and The Annex to specifically fund the roundabouts, Frace said.
That fee would be collected in addition to traffic impact fees that developers normally pay: about $1.7 million from Walmart and about $1.2 million from The Annex.
Those traffic impact fees would combine with other fees historically collected from developers that fund a list of other traffic improvements planned throughout the city. The City Council will then be able to vote on whether it wants to move the Del Rio Road interchange project higher on that list.
The road improvements are two roundabouts on the Highway 101 overpass. Consultants estimate that Walmart and The Annex would bring more traffic to the area and the improvements would quell the traffic increases.
Walmart is already funding a third roundabout at El Camino Real and Del Rio Road where a traffic light stands today.
A Walmart-only option, also considered in the update, said roundabouts would still be required without The Annex, but only after future developments are built.
If the city funds the remaining share of the roundabouts, it will do so from its transportation fund, which would need additional money to cover the $4.5 million cost. A figure representing the amount of money in that fund wasnt immediately available.
The council would need to approve borrowing from other city funds to cover roundabouts.
Plan scaled back
Walmart is going forward with a plan that has been scaled back from the failed proposals that were put forth in 2007. Walmarts proposed center would now include 123,000 square feet of retail and grocery space plus about 6,500 square feet of outdoor garden services.
The Annex would have more than 120,000 square feet of commercial space, with the option for a single-family residential development.
Walmarts parcel also includes about 10,000 square feet for two commercial lots and space for a 44-unit multifamily residential development.
The public can comment on the update through late April and can find the study in the Community Development section via the City Departments tab online at www.atascadero.org.