As shoppers across the Central Valley pack stores this holiday season, this time next year in Ceres customers could be lining up for at a brand new Walmart Supercenter.
In March of this year the retail giant, which has had a regular Walmart store in Ceres since 1993, submitted construction documents to the city for its long-delayed supercenter. Those plans have since been reviewed and approved, and are ready to be issued according to Tom Westbrook, the director of community development for the City of Ceres.
Plans for the Walmart Supercenter were first announced over a decade ago, in 2007. The retailer will be the anchor in the proposed 300,000-square-foot Mitchell Ranch Center on the northwest corner of Mitchell and Service roads in Ceres.
But development hit a legal roadblock in 2011 when a group of Ceres citizens sued the city and Walmart to stop the project. The ensuing three-year court battle ended in late 2014 when a Stanislaus Superior Court ruled in the company’s favor and gave it the green light to move forward.
Before construction could begin, some road improvements and other work had to be completed. The City of Ceres widened portions of Mitchell and Service roads, and installed a signal at Mitchell and Service. Some other sewer and water improvements were also finished.
Now Walmart officials are waiting on approval from CalTrans to install two temporary signal lights that will be located on Mitchell Road at the Highway 99 off ramps. Once those are finalized, Westbrook expects the company will pull its permits and begin construction.
He said the city hopes to have the permits issued within the next two to three months. Construction would begin shortly after that and could take up to a year.
At about 185,000 square feet, the Walmart Supercenter will be larger than the existing Ceres Walmart (which is 130,000 square feet). The new store will carry a larger selection of grocery and fresh produce items as well as other products.
It remains to be seen what other businesses will join the Walmart Supercenter in the Mitchell Ranch Center. Once completed the complex will have an additional 100,000 square feet of retail space to fill. Westbrook said no other tenants are lined up for the remaining slots. But years ago Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill had expressed interest in the site.
Also still up in the air is the proposed Gateway Center across the street from Mitchell Ranch complex, on the southwest corner of the intersection. Westbrook said the city is expecting to receive a development application for the triangular plot before the end of the year.
Elsewhere on the Business Beat:
Sick of eating turkey leftovers? Then check out Togo’s new Pay It Forward Program in Modesto for a feel-good twofer.
The city’s two Togo’s locations, at McHenry Village and Standiford Avenue, are under new management and are celebrating with a new program to help Modesto schools. Owner Givo Ishaya is giving schools complimentary coupon cards to sell, with all the profits going back to the schools.
The buy-one-get-one-free sandwich cards sell for $20 and are good for 52 purchases in a year. So far students at Downey, Enochs and Modesto High Schools have signed on for the program.
Turlock native Ishaya said he hopes to expand the fundraising program to more schools in the area. So far he estimates the stores have donated close to $9,000 worth of coupon cards to the schools.
Find out more about the program at the two Togo’s in Modesto, at 1700 McHenry Avenue and 2900 Standiford Avenue.