MODESTO — One of the arguments that the opponents of a proposed 170,000-square-foot shopping center in northeast Modesto make is that part of the city already has tens of thousands of square feet of vacant commercial and retail space. They say the last thing the city needs is another shopping center.
For instance, they point to the empty space at Century Center since it two major tenants Gottschalks and Raleys closed in the past few years. Opponents say companies should fill empty storefronts before a developer builds a new shopping center. They also fear the new center will lead to more empty storefronts and the potential for blight as businesses leave existing centers for new ones.
Berberian Holdings wants to build the shopping center, which would be called The Marketplace, on 18 acres at the southwest corner of Sylvan Avenue and Oakdale Road. It would be anchored by a 51,730-square-foot grocery store. Save Mart has expressed interest in the center.
The Marketplaces proponents make these points regarding commercial and retail space:
• Not all space is of equal use and value. For instance, Century Centers Raleys and Gottschalks had poor visibility because they faced Orangeburg Avenue. About 14,000 cars a day traveled that stretch of Orangeburg, according to a 2007 city traffic flow map, which is the citys most recent data.
In contrast, about 25,300 cars on Sylvan and nearly 29,800 on Oakdale drive by the site of the proposed Marketplace shopping center each day, according to the traffic flow map.
And customers expectations change. A grocery store built in the 1980s may no longer meet what todays customers want and expect.
• It may take a lot longer than many of us like, but empty spaces eventually get filled. For instance, Planet Fitness has been operating a gym in about half of the Century Center Gottschalks for about two years. Hobby Lobby is now in a building once occupied by Mervyns, and the Golden Corral operates a restaurant at the site of a former car dealership.
• Businesses leaving existing shopping centers for new ones create opportunities for other businesses. Not all businesses can afford to pay the lease rates in new shopping centers, but they can afford the cheaper rates at older centers, which can be an upgrade for them.
Opponents have other objections to The Marketplace, including that it will generate too much traffic and lead to gridlock and that city staff has failed to follow city policy in recommending that the City Council approve the project. Homeowners living near Naraghi Lake strongly oppose giving shoppers access to the center from Hashem Drive. They say their residential street already has too much traffic.
The City Council considered The Marketplace project at its Tuesday meeting, but postponed a decision until its Jan. 7 meeting after opponents raised more objections.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.