Biz Beat

Do you know what they’re building? An update on Modesto retail construction projects

The new AutoZone in the Promenade Shopping Center on McHenry Avenue pictured Oct. 31, 2019 in Modesto, Calif.
The new AutoZone in the Promenade Shopping Center on McHenry Avenue pictured Oct. 31, 2019 in Modesto, Calif.

Welcome to another edition of “Hey, what are they building over there?”

Now that one of Modesto’s biggest new retail construction projects has opened — namely the new flagship Save Mart — and its surrounding center will start to fill in, it’s time for an update on the city’s other in-development projects.

First up is the former Sports Authority space in the Promenade Shopping Center at the corner of McHenry and Standiford avenues, which has been under renovations to become an AutoZone since June. Now, signs on the door say “Opening Soon.”

AutoZone spokesman David McKinney said he expects the store to open sometime this month, though an exact date has not been set yet. The company is in the process of hiring the some 30 to 40 employees it will need to staff the store.

McKinney said the 39,000-square-foot building will be an AutoZone hub store, meaning it will have a larger and wider inventory than regular stores.

“We’re very proud to be opening that particular store. One of the great benefits of having a hub store is there is great product assortment and more hard-to-find items,” he said.

The Sports Authority site has been vacant since the sporting goods company went out of business in 2016. AutoZone, an auto parts and accessories retailer, has about half a dozen stores in Modesto currently.

The company is still hiring for several positions online including shift supervisors, sales associates and delivery drivers. For more information on employment, visit

In the same shopping center, next to the Barnes & Noble, the former Starbucks is also finding new life. The coffee shop closed on Father’s Day of this year, after being open for 23 years in the same site adjoining the bookstore.

Now, a sign for Tea Daze has gone up over the 1,000-square-foot space. The bubble tea cafe has another location on Pacific Avenue in Stockton, which opened last December. The cafe specializes in drinks made with loose-leaf tea and milk, plus boba “bubbles.” According to Barnes & Noble employees, the connecting opening between the two shops will be closed to make way for the new cafe.

If all this new development is working up an appetite, you’ll be able to grab some grub and a beer from the new The Brass Tap sometime next year. In August 2018 the Florida-based restaurant and craft brew pub company announced it has plans to open five locations up and down the Central Valley.

Now, the location for the first site has been selected by Modesto-based franchisee Rick Sousa. The first will sit across the street from Kaiser Permanente hospital on Bangs Avenue in northwest Modesto. Sousa said after an extensive search he settled on from-the-ground up construction in the new Kiernan Business Park.

The restaurant and pub will go into a planned project that includes a new Courtyard by Marriott hotel, retail shopping center with restaurants and shops, a gas station and large luxury apartment complex.

Sousa said building permit applications for both the building shell and tenant improvements have been submitted to the city and are under review. He hopes to break ground before the end of the year, and be open for business by mid-2020. Sousa and the company had originally hoped to have the first site open by late 2019.

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A new dental office under construction in the old Chevy’s building on Standiford Avenue pictured Oct. 31, 2019 in Modesto, Calif. Marijke Rowland

And finally, work is ongoing at two other projects undergoing extensive construction work. First, the old Chevy’s restaurant building at the corner of Standiford Avenue and Carver Road continues its transformation. The Cheema Dental Corporation bought the building in June 2018. The dental group based out of Stockton has about a dozen locations in Northern California.

Work on the site began a year later, this June. Cheema Dental Group regional manager Alfonso Maurno said the building’s footprint is being extended a bit from its 5,620-square-foot original structure. Work is on track for a summer 2020 opening, he said.

Just down the road on Standiford Avenue the old Hischier Nursery site is undergoing its own transformation to a new 24-hour veterinary hospital. Standiford Veterinary Center, which has existing offices on Standiford and Sylvan avenues, is building the new 8,316-square-foot center.

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The new Standiford Veterinary Center under construction on Standiford Avenue pictured Oct. 31, 2019 in Modesto, Calif. Marijke Rowland

The building’s exterior construction appears to be near complete. A coming soon sign on the site touts its “24/7 Emergency Petcare For Stanislaus County.”

Previously the site, between Tully and Carver roads, had been the locally owned Hischier Nursery for 62 years before it closed in 2008. After that, a Furniture For Less store had moved in and closed in 2017.

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Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs multiple times a week. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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