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Opinions differ on commercial vacancy in Loomis

Issue raised at Planning Commission meeting
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Commercial space in downtown Loomis or the lack of it was raised at the April 25 Planning Commission meeting and opinions around town differ.

Specifically, Loomis Planning Commissioners were concerned that there isn’t enough commercial space included in the proposed Village at Loomis project. The Loomis Planning Commission voted 4-0 to recommend denial of the project to the Town Council, citing inadequate commercial space as one of its reasons for the recommendation. Commissioner Linda Kelly was absent from the meeting.

Loomis resident Matt Fox, speaking at the April 25 Planning Commission meeting, expressed frustration with the state of Loomis businesses.

“There is inadequate commercial zoning,” Fox said. “Walk up and down Taylor Road. There are lots of vacancies and underutilized buildings.”

Commissioner Jean Wilson said at the meeting that there is actually a lack of available commercial space and that some of the vacancies give residents and visitors the wrong idea.

“The Horseshoe Bar and Grill being closed gives a bad impression,” said Wilson, referring to a vacancy at the intersection of Horseshoe Bar Road and Taylor Road, arguably the busiest stretch of road in Loomis. The property across the street from the former restaurant, the Smog Station, has the same owner and is also vacant.

Patricia Green, a local commercial real estate broker and the Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee chairwoman, agreed with Wilson’s assessment.

“There is the perception that there is commercial space available,” Green said Friday. “There is a difference between vacant commercial space and commercial space that is available.”

Green said the biggest misconception is that properties at the intersection of Horseshoe Bar Road and Taylor Road, including the former Horseshoe Bar and Grill, are available for lease.

“Even though we have buildings along Taylor Road that look like vacant space, it doesn’t mean they are available for lease,” Green added. “If I have a client call me and ask for a space on Taylor Road, there is none. There is no commercial space available for lease on Taylor Road.”

Even if the Village at Loomis is approved, Green said, it would not necessarily improve the availability of space for retail and restaurants.

“Retail has to be supported by foot traffic and located in a marketable and desirable location,” Green said. “Office space can get away with a secondary location.”

Green said the commercial corridors for Loomis are Taylor Road and Horseshoe Bar Road, adding that many of the houses along Horseshoe Bar Road are zoned commercial.

“As long as they are occupied as a residence, they can continue as a residence,” Green said. “Once they stop as a residence, they revert to commercial space.”

Retail and restaurants also require adequate parking, according to Green.

“The town is working on a parking ordinance so it will be easier to develop as commercial,” Green said. “That will be huge if they can get that done.”