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City buys land at busy, prominent intersection
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City officials are paying $720,000 for the less than an acre parcel at the southwest corner of Service and Mitchell roads. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

The home and garage that has served as an upholstery shop at a prominent corner of Service and Mitchell roads will be razed now that the Ceres City Council has purchased the site for infrastructure improvements.

On June 9 the council authorized the purchase of the 0.97-acre site at the southwest corner for $720,000.

City Manager Toby Wells said the home needs to go if the city is to widen Service Road and Mitchell Road for future commercial development.

The city is using unspent redevelopment agency funds to acquire the property.

"In order to complete the intersection improvements, additional right-of-way is necessary to put the traffic signal and traffic lands in the ultimate location," said Wells in a staff report to the council. "The right-of-way encroaches into the existing single-family home such that the home must be removed in order to move forward with the construction of the improvements."

The property - which is owned by Makhan Singh and Mukesh Kumar Makker - was valued on the "best and highest use" of the land, which is zoned for highway commercial. The value is based at $17 per square foot.

Having the site shovel ready will make it more appealing to a developer, said Wells. The site is located directly south of the proposed Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center. The project, which includes the Walmart Supercenter, is being held up in an appeals court by a group calling themselves Citizens for Ceres.

"This infrastructure would provide a significant incentive to potential economic development activity in the area," said Wells.

In April the Ceres City Council considered how it will spend the remaining $15.3 million for the state-exterminated Ceres Redevelopment Agency (CRA). The council gave direction on where to spend the funds, with the top project being to finish environmental work and start design work on the Service/Mitchell/Highway 99 interchange. The $3.84 million project would allow the city and Caltrans to begin acquiring right of way and set the stage for the $100 million to $120 million project. "Ultimate funding is another story," commented Wells.

The city also wants to use $2 million for actual roadway improvements to make the Service/Mitchell intersection more shovel-ready for commercial development. The project will widen Mitchell Road to six lanes (including dual turn lane) and undergrounding some utilities.