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More development ahead for Turlock in 2019
Land near Stanislaus State is appealing to potential retail developers, and Assistant to the City Manager for Housing and Economic Development Maryn Pitt believes the areas could see construction this year (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

After a successful year of new developments in town both commercial and retail alike, Turlock can expect more growth in 2019 thanks to expected infill projects that will bring more shopping, housing and even doctors to the city.

“In 2018, we saw commercial development come back strong,” Assistant to the City Manager for Housing and Economic Development Maryn Pitt said. “Part of getting these people to build here is to talk about Turlock and what a jewel of a community this is.”

Turlock’s Highway 99 retail corridor has been no stranger to construction over the years and 2018 was no different, bringing several new eateries and shopping destinations to the Monte Vista Crossings area — a retail and dining hub that will only continue to provide new commercial developments as 2019 progresses. Currently, there is a one to two percent vacancy rate of commercial buildings in Turlock.

Wienerschnitzel is the most recent restaurant built in the area on Countryside Drive, and in 2019 a Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, Farmer Boys and Black Bear Diner will be added to the mix. The Ten Pin Fun Center is expected to open in mid-February, which will bring a new sports bar and restaurant in addition to its bowling alley and laser tag attractions.

Despite being approved by the City in November 2017, construction has not yet begun on the two fast food locations, which will be built on the corner of West Tuolumne Road and Countryside Drive. The Popeye’s and Farmer Boys restaurants will be completed this year, Pitt estimated, and attempts to reach both franchises were unsuccessful.

Turlock’s first Black Bear Diner will open its doors soon, though it isn’t a newly-developed location. Patrons could be eating at the restaurant in as little as two weeks, the franchise said, taking over the building which once housed Cool Hand Luke’s until it closed abruptly last May.  Black Bear is holding a hiring fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at the new restaurant, 3050 N. Tegner Rd., where in-person applications for hostesses, cashiers, food servers, prep cooks, dishwashers and bussers will be accepted.

Pitt added that Turlock’s next “blooming” area in 2019 will be on Fulkerth Road near Dust Bowl Brewing Co., where a Chevron gas station was recently constructed. More developments in that area will be coming soon, she said, as retailers have shown interest, but nothing is set in stone yet.

Other new commercial projects could soon begin development near Stanislaus State, Pitt said, as the university serves as a beacon for potential retailers. About 10,000 students attend college in Turlock — 7,000 of whom do not commute to class and have chosen to live in town.

“Stanislaus State is definitely putting its mark on the map, and as a result of that we have more students coming here to go to school. That affects the retailers, who love having college students as part of their mix,” Pitt said. 

“In 2018, we saw commercial development come back strong. Part of getting these people to build here is to talk about Turlock and what a jewel of a community this is.
Assistant to the City Manager for Housing and Economic Development Maryn Pitt

There has been recent retailer interest in commercially-zoned plots around the university, like the land on the corner of Crowell Road and Monte Vista Avenue, as well as land on the corner of Geer Road and Christofferson Road and Geer Road and Monte Vista Avenue.

According to Pitt, though nothing is definite, interested retailers include specific businesses which typically cater to the college-aged demographic. The spaces could even see more apartments or student housing, as developers have applied to allow such buildings on the land near Stanislaus State. She expects to see development begin at some point this year.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest around the university and we have people in the process of applying to build there,” Pitt said.

Residential development also thrived in 2018, with ground breaking at new homes in several locations, including Rose Verde by Florsheim Homes on Countryside Drive and The Classics by Fitzpatrick Homes, located behind the Free Methodist Church on North Johnson Road. In 2019, prospective homebuyers can anticipate more potential residential developments on Colorado Avenue and Berkeley Avenue in between Taylor Road and Christofferson Road.

Any future homes will likely be in high demand, Pitt said, as those currently under construction are having no trouble finding buyers.

“Those houses are selling as fast as they can get them finished, so clearly there’s a demand in the marketplace,” she said. “We do have some open parcels and some subdivision maps that haven’t been completed yet, so there’s definitely the opportunity for others to come in and start construction.”

The Turlock Town Center will undergo changes in 2019 as the location continues its revitalization, with the 2018 additions of Jura’s Pizza Parlor and Rainbow Fabrics. Come August, a Smart & Final Extra! will be in the place of Rite Aid, which will move into the spaces currently occupied by Rainbow Fabrics, Goodwill and Klassy Kuts. Those three businesses will move down to the south end of the shopping center, and the entire project will see new paint throughout the center and even a newly-constructed portion of Rite Aid where Smart & Final is set to take up shop.

“I’m very excited about it,” Pitt said.

After Orchard Supply Hardware went out of business late last year, Pitt has been hard at work attempting to find a retailer to take its place. Turlock has room in its economic marker for a furniture or electronics store, she said, though there’s one store many hope can move into Turlock soon.

Pitt reaches out to the said store, Trader Joe’s, “all the time,” she said. Store developers have told her that since the Modesto location underperforms, Turlock is not an apt suitor for a Trader Joe’s. Pitt believes a more in-depth look at Turlock’s demographics proves that statement wrong.

“Our primary market area in Turlock is almost 300,000 people. We drive traffic that comes into our brick and mortar retailers from several areas,” she said. “Retailers used to draw these little rings — one mile, two miles, three miles — around a site and that really isn’t appropriate in this case because we draw from Livingston all the way to Ceres, out to Patterson and Newman and then east to Snelling.”

Pitt said she plans to meet with representatives from Trader Joe’s again in March, and from there, only time will tell if the store will come to Turlock.

There will be more places for doctors to work in Turlock by the end of the year as well, with an expansion at The Tower on Colorado Avenue in the works and several parcels in the same area already purchased with the purpose of building new doctors’ offices.

“We have a shortage of doctors, so we have a need, but we also need a place to put them to get them to come here,” Pitt said.

A Blue Diamond Growers expansion will also begin construction in the Turlock Regional Industrial Plan this year that, when completed in 2020, will bring an additional 200 jobs to the area. This expansion is a symbol of Turlock’s successful development, Pitt said, and a testament to how Turlock treats its businesses.

“They tell you in economic development that you have no business going to look for new industries unless you take care of the ones you’ve got,” Pitt said. “This year, we had no one leaving and no one closing, and we continue to have strong relationships with those businesses.”