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Development in 2020 to complement university growth
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The large, vacant lot across the street from Stanislaus State on the corner of Monte Vista Avenue and Geer Road has been the subject of development chatter for quite some time and will be a focus for the City in 2020 (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

The year 2019 brought plenty of commercial, retail and residential development to Turlock, with the city welcoming new homes, exciting eateries and even a long-awaited bowling alley. That progress is expected to continue into 2020, as infill projects intended to mesh with the town’s growing university begin to take shape.

Last year saw Turlock continue to build on the commercial development success of 2018, bringing new restaurants and entertainment to the city’s Highway 99 retail corridor. The opening of Farmer Boys gave the community another burger option, while families can now bowl at the Ten Pin Fun Center or enjoy a meal at its accompanying restaurant, Deadwood Social. In addition, existing structures around town were transformed into new businesses; Black Bear Diner took over the former Cool Hand Luke’s location and Orchard Supply Hardware’s old spot is now an Ace Hardware.

In terms of housing, new homes came to town in 2019 courtesy of the Rose Verde subdivision by Florsheim Homes off Countryside Drive as well as The Classics by Fitzpatrick Homes, located on North Johnson Road.

While plenty was built in 2019, there’s more to come in 2020 according to Assistant to the City Manager for Housing and Economic Development Maryn Pitt.

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Blue Diamond Growers’ 52,000 square foot phase two expansion will be complete this spring (Photo contributed).

“We continue to do everything we can to be proactively engaged in opportunities that bring both jobs, as well as new commercial and retail options here,” Pitt said.

There’s a lot to look forward to this year: Dutch Bros Coffee will break ground on its new Turlock location on Crowell Road in two to three months, Pitt said, and is expected to open in late summer; Blue Diamond Growers’ 52,000 square foot phase two expansion will be complete this spring, bringing more jobs to town; crews will break ground on the new subdivision of homes located off Tuolumne Road just east of Denair, and new apartments will be built on Pedras Road.

New hotels are also in the works, and a project that began last year in the Turlock Town Center will come to fruition in 2020 when Rite Aid moves over into its brand new, smaller space and a Smart & Final Extra! calls the former Rite Aid spot home.

According to Pitt, delays transitioning the space from a pharmacy to a grocery store have halted the original opening date of December 2019. Once Rite Aid has moved over into its newly-constructed space, work can begin to prepare Smart & Final Extra! for opening.

As for the Dutch Bros Coffee lot across the street from Stanislaus State, there will also be “one or two fast casual dining” spots available for to-be-determined tenants once construction is complete.

“It will be something that caters more to the college crowd — not another Mexican food restaurant or pizza place,” Pitt said.

Catering to the large community of university students in Turlock is something at the top of Pitt’s priorities, she added. Stanislaus State is projected to increase its enrollment by another 1,000 students next fall, on top of an ever-growing graduating class that breaks school records year after year.

The large, vacant lot across the street from the university on the corner of Monte Vista Avenue and Geer Road has been the subject of development chatter for quite some time, however, the family who owns the parcel is reluctant to sell, according to Pitt.

Mayor Amy Bublak has indicated interest in hosting a joint meeting with involved parties, including the university, to determine a vision for what types of development would work best in the vacant, underutilized land surrounding the school, which also includes a lot on the corner of Geer Road and Christoffersen Road.

“We would like to engage in a conversation about a visioning process,” Pitt said. “There’s a lot of land around the university and we’re only got one chance to get it right.”

When determining a plan for developing with the university in mind, housing comes into play, too, Pitt explained. While a second phase of the low-income apartment complex Avena Bella will be completed in 2020, it will only provide an additional 60 units, which will be given to families on an interest list via a lottery system. With low-income families and college students competing for the same apartments citywide, conversations about providing more student housing in town will begin to take shape this year.

“The expected growth in student population and our lack of housing is just another reason to have a joint conversation with the university about vision,” Pitt said.

Mayor Bublak is expected to go into details about her vision for the city in terms of economic development during her State of the City address, scheduled for Feb. 20.