A New "Studio City" In Natomas?

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz 
Could Natomas become the next Studio City?
That was one suggestion put forth at a town hall meeting tonight on what should replace the arena in Natomas if a new entertainment and sports complex is built downtown. 
By a show of hands, the 60 or so Natomas residents and business owners who attended tonight’s meeting favored replacing Power Balance Pavilion with either a healthcare facility, entertainment industry studios and businesses or a high-technology campus.
One thing was clear: Not one person wanted the spot to become an auto mall despite the revenue-generating potential. 
It’s very important we draw a highly-compensated, well-educated and stable workforce,” resident Keith Sharward said.
The town hall was hosted by the “Think BIG” Natomas subcommittee charged with identifying a replacement plan for Power Balance Pavilion – as good, or better than building a new arena in Natomas. More than half of the 14-person subcommittee attended the roughly one-hour public session. 
“The subcommittee needs to get done what this community wants,” said Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, who heads the subcommittee with Natomas neighbor Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan. 
Kunal Merchant, Mayor Kevin Johnson’s chief of staff, presented examples of similar reuse projects including a mixed-use development to replace “The Hive” in Charlotte, North Carolina and the mega church which now uses “The Summit” as its sanctuary in Houston, Texas.
The subcommittee has its eyes on the 108-acres, a portion of which is currently occupied by the arena, and owned in part by the city and the Maloof family. But more than one subcommittee member pointed to available, undeveloped property that could accommodate the arena’s replacement in Natomas. 
There are ready-to-go sites where the infrastructure is virtually paid for,” ubcommittee member Tim Youmans said. “And there are users not seeking subsidies.”
Wary from broken promises of the past, tonight’s town hall participants lobbed questions about services such as public transportation, timing and financing at Ashby, Pan and Merchant. 
Natomas has heard it all before, we are very aware of that,” said Merchant, adding the subcommittee’s work was a sign of good faith.
Ashby said the ad hoc group’s goal is to have “funding in place” and “shovels in the ground” in Natomas the same time work starts on a new arena downtown. Merchant said the earliest the Kings could expect to take up residency in a new area is 2015 and until then Power Balance Pavilion would continue to operate and employ about 800 people.
“What we don’t want is another empty building,” Natomas resident Leslie Rubalcara said. 
Replacing the arena with a higher-education campus was the fourth most popular option discussed at the town hall. Green energy, manufacturing, a mixed-use facility, shopping mall and an amusement park were less popular suggestions.

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