Natomas School District Eyeing Part of Arena Site

The Natomas Unified School District is considering purchase of 11-17 undeveloped acres north of Sleep Train Arena site. / NatomasBuzz.com Photo

BY BRANDY TUZON BOYD
THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

The Natomas Unified School District is eyeing a portion of the former Sleep Train Arena site as the possible location for a future school.

According to the district school board May 12 agenda, the district is preparing to or has entered negotiations on a parcel which includes a large section of the former Sleep Train Arena site.

The agenda item was discussed during the school board’s closed session last week and there was no report of any action taken during the closed session once the meeting reconvened in open session.

But Superintendent Chris Evans today confirmed this is the second time the Natomas Unified School District has considered the former arena site in Natomas.

Evans said the school district is not interested in buying the whole 100-acre parcel listed on the agenda, but instead is considering a smaller portion which might support a new K-5 or K-8 campus.

“We are looking at a parcel that might really blend in well with Centene being there and any future business developments,” Evans said. “We are looking at 11 to 17 acres to build a school.”

In recent years, the Natomas Unified School District has eyed several properties in Natomas as the building moratorium was lifted and construction of new single-family homes and apartments resumed within its boundaries.

In the past the school district had to play catch up constructing new schools behind residential development.

“We are doing our due diligence,” said Evans. “We want to stay on the front end of this stuff and not get caught off guard.”

To make room for more students, the Natomas district has expanded all of its elementary schools to K-8 and over the past year has been building new classrooms and facilities to accommodate these students.

The Natomas district moved Paso Verde School students to its newest campus earlier in 2021. The district has also approved plans to proceed with building a new dual immersion school site on land it already owns on Club Center Drive.

In 2017, the school district purchased an 88-acre site in unincorporated Sacramento County on El Centro Road for just over $1 million. According to the board meeting minutes, purchase of that site was meant to offset the development of new school sites and be a possible location for a future high school as Inderkum High School pushes its capacity.

“It’s wise of the school district to plan for future growth,” said Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby, who represents north Natomas on the Sacramento City Council. North Natomas continues to see the most new growth in the city.

In recent years, past school board agendas show that the Natomas Unified School District has also considered undeveloped property on Airport Road and Tanzanite Way, property on Innovator Drive and Prosper Street where the Alira Luxury Apartments have since been built, as well as city-owned property on New Fong Ranch Road, adjacent to Natomas High School.

The Sleep Train Arena footprint comprises five parcels, the largest of which is 100-acres in size and includes some developed parking as well as the unfinished baseball stadium.

The arena and practice facility sit on the second-largest parcel, which is just over 53 acres, flanked by the three smaller 13-acre, 12-acre and 5-acre parcels.

Sleep Train Arena has largely remained vacant since the last Sacramento Kings game was played there in September 2016. The arena and adjacent area have been rented on occasion by private groups and more recently the State of California where it housed about 200 patients who were treated during the pandemic.

A 2017 proposal by Sacramento Business Holdings, the Sacramento Kings ownership group, to redevelop the site for high-density housing and retail has stalled, as has a proposal to relocate the Sacramento Zoo to the site.

During a recent North Natomas Community Coalition meeting, Ashby said the Sacramento Kings were prepared to give the city “a very good deal on the land,” but that three months into the pandemic that deal “fell apart.” She indicated that city representatives continue to meet and talk with the Sacramento Kings ownership “regularly.”

Before the Natomas Unified School District could buy the arena property for a public school site, state education code requires the school board hold an open hearing to discuss and to evaluate the site.

The Natomas Unified School District is considering purchasing a portion of one parcels which makes up the Sleep Train Arena site. / Source: Sacramento County Assessor’s Parcel Viewer

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