Biz Beat

Hey, what’s that going up over there? A look at retail construction around Modesto

Spring has sprung around Modesto and that means new retail construction projects are popping up all over.

Take a drive up McHenry Avenue these days and you’ll notice a handful of new buildings going up — and about to go up. Two of the largest profile projects are car dealerships with lots being leveled across from each other at the intersection of McHenry and Pelandale/Claratina avenues. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what exactly is going into the big soon-to-be-not empty lots, and the answer should please you Audi and Mazda fans out there.

Modesto will get its first Audi dealership, on the southwest corner of the McHenry/Pelandale intersection, next to the existing Hope Chest Thrift Store. The new Audi Modesto at 4201 McHenry Ave. is being built by a Las Vegas-based company that owns 33 car dealerships in other states. This will be its first California dealership. The new Audi location is slated to open sometime in late September.

Across the street, just south of the existing Infinity dealership, a new Mazda store is going up. The city has been without a Mazda dealership since 2009 when the old Modesto Mazda closed, a causality of The Great Recession. The new car seller will be part of the Central Valley Automotive stable of dealerships which already includes Nissan, Infiniti, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Volkswagen and Hyundai. No official word yet on when it will open, but it seems likely it would be completed toward the end of the year.

A little ways down on McHenry you’ve no doubt noticed the progress on a new Burger King going up in the site of the former Teriyaki King. The old building was torn down and the new fast food spot is being built from the ground up at 2320 McHenry Ave. The restaurant is being constructed by QSR West, which owns several Burger King franchises. QRS West is advertising team member positions at its Modesto-area Burger King locations currently, so check them out if you’re looking for work.

Also along McHenry, the husk of the former Lee’s Chinese Kitchen is still sitting empty and untouched. The family which owns the longtime favorite Chinese food spot is waiting for final permit approval from the city to begin rebuilding the restaurant, which burned down in an early morning fine June 10, 2017. It’s been an impatient wait for the many of you who have called or emailed me to ask when it will return. Opened in 1973, current owner Henry Ma has been operating the restaurant continuously for more than 40 years since taking over the place.

Once final city approval is granted, he said work should take about three months. The fire damaged much of the back kitchen area of the restaurant, and Ma said renovations will include the kitchen and bathrooms, in addition to some cosmetic changes to the dining area. Until that project gets underway, members of the same family run the China Garden Restaurant on Coffee Road just south of Briggsmore Avenue. Ma’s brother, who used to work at Lee’s Chinese Kitchen, has owned the eatery for more than seven years.

Building also continues on the new Modesto offices of West Orthodontics at at 1500 McHenry Ave. The building at the corner of McHenry and Coolidge avenues has undergone extensive renovations over the past year. The site was once home to the dermatology office of Dr. Gary Wagner, but now will be the new Modesto site for the orthodontics practice which also has offices in Riverbank and Patterson. Work is projected to be done in July.

But McHenry isn’t the only major thoroughfare to see construction projects. Work continues apace on some projects on Pelandale Avenue as well. The biggest is the Valley Children’s Pelandale Specialty Care Center going up in north Modesto. Ground broke on the project about a year ago with a special visit from Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. The specialty care center is expected to open toward the end of this year.

Major construction work has also been completed on the next door NorthPointe Shopping Center addition. A new strip of retail space has been built across from the Save Mart, and next to the existing Tri Counties Bank and Round Table Pizza. The new 6,503-square-foot space will include a 2,750-square-foot dental office. The city did not have information on other potential tenants for the remaining retail space yet. But I feel fairly confident in saying it probably won’t be a Cheesecake Factory.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

Aaron Brothers Art & Framing is closing its doors for good.

The company is closing nearly all of its retail locations, including its shop in north Modesto at 3801 Pelandale Ave. The business is instead focusing on providing its custom framing services through existing Michaels stores. The Modesto location is expected to shutter by June 30. But be sure to use any existing Aaron Brothers gift cards, because they will not be transferable to Micahels. No word yet on what will go into its space, which sits in the same complex as Cost Plus World Market and Pier 1 Imports.