Sierra Pacific Industries makes plans for closed mill site
Blanc told the council that if the Emerson Family had its way, they would still be running the mill in Susanville. However, when the mill industry came to a halt because no more timber was available, the Emersons, who own SPI, began looking at what could be done to revitalize economies and re-use the mill sites.
The proposed riverwalk is a long-term 15 to 20 year project that needs the cooperation and support of the city and Lassen County, Blanc said.
The mill site sits in the county but is in Susanville’s sphere of influence and SPI expects the acreage to be annexed into the city in the future, said O’Sullivan, who has undertaken similar projects for SPI in Amador County and Grass Valley.
The riverwalk would be comprised of 54 acres of retail, 34 acres of new office, 46 acres of mixed-use defined as light industrial, industrial and warehousing, 78 acres of housing and 30 acres of parkways and pathways along the Susan River and other open areas.
Blanc said only 30 percent of the land has been developed and the firm of Geomatrics Environmental out from Oakland has begun an environmental review on the manufacturing area.
The other 70 percent of the 260 acres is considered raw land where no manufacturing has taken place. The ER has been completed on that portion of the land, said Blanc.
O’Sullivan said SPI sees the substantial asset the Susan River is to the area and has proposed a walkway along the river side of the land from Riverside Drive to Highway 36. Within the walkway area, SPI has proposed three parks ranging from 3 acres to 27 acres.
An 18-acre park would sit where the current mill pond is located. According to O’Sullivan the only way to recapture the area is to cap the pond. However, he assured the council SPI will conduct human health risk assessments to make sure there is nothing toxic in the pond.
Mayor Lino Callegari told the men that he gives full support to the project. Councilmember Doug Sayers said he knows Red Emerson and can trust he will do a good job.
The main goals of the project are to create jobs and provide services to Susanville and Lassen County, offer retail opportunities, stop the sales tax leakage, provide opportunities for new multi-family and single-family housing, take advantage of the Susan River’s beauty and create public recreation and relaxation spaces.
O’Sullivan said the Amador County project in many ways parallels the one proposed for Susanville. He said the Amador County site is about 60 miles from other retail sites and he was able to bring a Lowes and Safeway as anchor stores and other small nationwide stores to the area. Blanc said SPI is trying to get a Target.
If all goes well, Blanc said SPI could start building on the site within a year.
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