Since its development began at the start of the new millennium, Turlockers have known Monte Vista Crossings as the city’s shopping epicenter. From pet stores to drive through restaurants, nearly two decades of growth have brought over 50 businesses and extraordinary revenue to Turlock, making Monte Vista Crossings one of the top five largest open air shopping centers on the West Coast.
In 1999, Hall Equities Group made their first investment in the shopping center, purchasing the land where Monte Vista Crossings now sits. Hall Equities Group President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Hall saw a dire need for a quality shopping center in Turlock.
“The area was thirsty for retail services and quality hotels,” said Hall. “Most residents were driving over 20 miles to the north side of Modesto for retail service.”
Turlock’s location enticed Hall as well, he said, as the city is ideally located to support not only itself, but surrounding communities as far away as Los Banos and Patterson. The town also has a university, which Hall liked.
“That is usually always a good thing for a community,” he said.
Construction on the first phase on Monte Vista Crossings began in late 2000 and was completed in 2001. The first phase brought retailers such as Target, Home Depot and Safeway to Turlock, but the first business to open was McDonald’s, as they were eager to serve the construction workers.
When development first began, Hall’s vision and the City’s vision for the shopping center were the same, but some adjustments were made.
“We simply changed the City’s site plan to make it more meaningful and desirable to the actual retailers, based on our experience,” said Hall. “We solved the difficult puzzles of financing the huge public infrastructure, and convinced all the retailers to land here.”
Infrastructure cost was one of the biggest challenges the development team faced, said Hall, as well as disapproving City staff members and the inexperience of his own group.
“Frankly at the time, we were less experienced real estate people than we are today, so we were wrestling with a bit of our own ignorance,” said Hall.
Multiple new buildings were constructed in the following years, bringing businesses like Panda Express, Jamba Juice, Kohl’s and a new Holiday Inn Express hotel in 2003 and 2004. In 2006, the center welcomed another wave of businesses including Circuit City, where In Shape City now is, and Panera Bread. The construction of Lowe’s Home Improvement began shortly after and was completed in 2007, and one year later, construction on a second hotel began and was completed in 2009.
“Tenant sales are extraordinarily robust in this project – even substantially higher than many inner Bay Area centers,” said Hall. “Frankly, there is no other regional center in the Central Valley that comes close to Monte Vista Crossing’s size, tenant diversity or tenant quality, and sales per square feet accomplished by project tenants.”
The development of Monte Vista Crossings South, which is home to places like Buffalo Wild Wings and Dick’s Sporting Goods, began in 2012 with the construction of its first building, Olive Garden. Two years later, Phase VI was completed. Along with Dick’s Sporting Goods, Tilly’s, JoAnn’s Fabrics and Crafts and Justice & Brother’s also opened their doors for the first time.
Prior to Hall Equities Group’s purchase of the land, the nearly 160-acre area where Monte Vista Crossings now sits was used primarily for agriculture, according to City of Turlock Director of Planning Debbie Whitmore. Since transforming from wide, open fields into a hustling and bustling urban center, Whitmore said the area has produced extremely beneficial results for the City.
“This area does generate a lot of sales tax revenue that helps support things like police and fire services in the City,” said Whitmore.
According to Hall, Monte Vista Crossings generates more than 25 percent of the City’s total sales tax revenue, and property taxes are among the highest of any single source developed by a single party in the area. The shopping center provides other benefits as well, said Hall.
“It reduces region-wide traffic substantially by keeping Turlock residents in Turlock for the goods and services they need, rather than driving dozens of miles to other locations,” he said. “We estimate that Monte Vista Crossings provides more than 2,000 retail and hospitality sales and service jobs.
“It just may be the single most important piece of private business investment ever made in the City of Turlock.”
Today, Hall Equities Group is preparing to complete their last portion of the project, which includes PetCo, Rue 21, Forever 21 Red, The Habit Burger Grill and others. Though PetCo and Rue 21 are already open to the public, Hall expects the remaining stores to open by the end of the first quarter in 2017.
Hall Equities Group sold the bulk of Monte Vista Crossings last August to Blackrock Investment Company out of New York, but retained responsibility to complete the project’s last phase. According to Whitmore, development at Monte Vista Crossings will continue.
A subdivision was approved to be built just south of Home Depot, and eventually, she said, an overpass bridging Tuolumne Road over Highway 99 will be constructed. The land west of Countryside Drive and south of Tuolumne Road is slated to be used for commercial purposes, as is the land at the north end of Countryside Drive where Hobby Lobby and Ten Pin Fun Center are in the early stages of development.
“We have a lot of interest in that area,” said Whitmore. “We’ve received a lot of applications – primarily retail and office use.”
As Monte Vista Crossings has expanded over the years, so has its positive effect on Turlock. The income earned and spent locally by people that both shop and work at the shopping center supports additional business activity and jobs throughout the city, and will continue to do so.
“This has been an extremely important project for our company, and we have been proud to be a part of the Turlock business community for over 16 years now,” said Hall. “We feel that this development will serve Turlock for many more decades to come in a positive manner.”