While the coronavirus pandemic has put many things on hold in Turlock, construction crews remain busy with plenty of new developments in the works around town.
Following a successful 2019 that brought plenty of commercial, retail and residential development to Turlock, even more was planned for the city in 2020 prior to the spread of COVID-19. Luckily, construction sites across town are abuzz with activity and plans remain intact for new restaurants, stores and one highly-anticipated coffee shop despite coronavirus shutdowns.
Construction companies and the worksites where they operate have been deemed essential by Gov. Gavin Newsom during the statewide stay at home orders, which are meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. The decision has given the state’s economy at least one leg to stand on during these trying times, Turlock’s Assistant to the City Manager for Housing and Economic Development Maryn Pitt said.
“The construction trades are exempt, so you see the build outs and some other things around town continue to move forward,” Pitt said. “The construction industry is one of the lifebloods of California’s economic development.”
One restaurant in the early stages of moving into the Turlock Town Center is Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, which will move forward with interior improvements to the existing building at 775 N. Golden State Blvd. as soon as a conditional use permit for the drive through restaurant is approved by the Planning Commission. Plans for the drive through have already been submitted to the City. A new McDonald’s is also planned in the center at 693 N. Golden State Blvd.
According to Tim Moody, a real estate agent representing the Turlock Town Center, some projects in the shopping center are “in flux” as future and current tenants work on plans.
In addition to the fast food restaurants, a BBQ-style buffet called Kaitlyn and Ashlee’s Kitchen is planning to open in June, and a project that began last year will come to fruition in the coming months with the opening of Smart & Final Extra.
Across the street, API Architecture has submitted plans to the City to demolish the former home of Souza’s Furniture at 199 W. Canal Drive and build two drive-through restaurants — one of which will be a Starbucks. If approved, the submitted plans say construction on the Starbucks will begin in July 2020 and be completed by May 2021. Plans for the second building will be submitted at a future date.
Across town, construction on another coffee shop, Dutch Bros Coffee, is underway next to Stanislaus State on the corner of Crowell Road and Monte Vista Avenue. Work has also begun on an accompanying dual retail pad, which has already secured Domino’s Pizza as a tenant and will fill the other space in the months to come. Pitt anticipates the project to be complete sometime before the end of the year.
“I thought they would be a little further along than they are,” Pitt said. “I know everyone is patiently waiting, so I’m hoping they're open by Christmas...maybe even before school starts again.”
Housing projects also continue, with the second phase of the Avena Bella affordable housing project well underway, an apartment complex on Pedras Road in the works and the construction of homes on Tuolumne Road near Denair moving along.
Construction on Harbor Freight, a home improvement store near Pedretti Park, will be complete soon, and Ross Dress for Less will open a second location in Geer Gardens North this year, taking over the 27,000 square foot space at 2405 Geer Road which formerly housed Fallas Discount Store.
Ross, and countless other retail stores throughout Turlock, recently laid off its staff due to the pandemic, Pitt said, but the store’s future second location shows that businesses believe the economy will rebound quickly. The space’s proximity to the university made it a top choice for the retail chain, she added.
“They’ve been poking around, looking for another location...not a lot of retailers are looking for that size of space, so I was a little surprised that happened,” Pitt said. “They’ve made it clear that their layoffs are temporary.”