Whole Foods still on board for nearby Palladio project

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There’ll be a classic Italian architectural touch to all the heavy construction underway in Folsom on the triangle-shaped property bordered on the east by East Bidwell Street, on the south by Iron Point Road and Broadstone Parkway on the west. Called Palladio for Andrea Palladio, a classic designer and architect in 16th century Italy, it will be a 700,000-square-feet “lifestyle center” open mall, as opposed to the now “more or less” traditional enclosed mall, said Russ Davis, vice president for project development for developer Elliott Homes of Folsom. The first phase is scheduled to open in October of next year. About 60,000 square feet of the total will be allocated as office space. “A life center is an open air, pedestrian-friendly shopping area that focuses on community and social gathering places so people can enjoy the environment, as much as the shopping experience itself,” he added. Think Fountains in Roseville, near the Westfield Galleria. Palladio will have entertainment areas, fountains, including one “very ornate formal fountain” in the central plaza, plus a more “inactive” fountain for kids to play in at another part of the project, Davis said. “It’s a major town square kind of environment where the more formal fountain is located more or less in the center of the project, then there are smaller plaza areas, outdoor seating and outdoor restaurants adjacent to them,” he noted. As much as those in El Dorado Hills have longed for a Nordstrom, Macy’s or other major department store in the immediate area, there will be none – at least none are ready for announcement if, indeed, even planned – for Palladio. Confidentiality agreements prevent Davis from naming all tenants now, but three he can identify and which he considers “anchors” are Whole Foods Market, Barnes & Noble book store and a 16-screen cinema with stadium seating. There will be two parking garages with 1,200 stalls, plus surface parking. Palladio’s main building just off East Bidwell will be four stories, with retail at ground level and the next three floors set as office space, with a clock tower land-marking the top of the structure. The architect Palladio is often described as the most influential and most copied architect in the western world. His designs and buildings were frequent models for stately homes and government buildings in Europe and America. His “Four Books of Architecture” was widely translated and Thomas Jefferson borrowed Palladian ideas when he designed Monticello, his home in Virginia. “The architectural style of the project is Italian, number one, but Palladian principles have been incorporated into the design,” Davis said. Several sculptors have been commissioned to create outdoor artwork at Palladio. “There’ll be a couple of gladiators, horses, birds,” he said. “There’ll also be tiles and murals on the walls and plazas to add to the outdoor artwork.” Leasing, he admitted, is “going very slow, as you can imagine in this market, particularly restaurants. National restaurant chains are really suffering. But this too will pass,” said Davis. “It’s hard to imagine it getting much worse.” Art Garcia is a career journalist who lives in El Dorado Hills and is editorial director of Media Mark, a professional writing firm.