Plans to build an 8,250-square-foot office and retail building at the southern flank of downtown Ceres generated both approval and praise by members of the Ceres Planning Commission on Monday evening.
Bill Leer of Modesto's Leer Corporation went before the panel to seek approval for a Site Plan Approval for the project to be constructed on a 14,375 square foot parcel at the northwest corner of Park and Sixth streets. The project was approved 3-0 by commissioners Laurie Smith, Gary Del Nero and Hugo Molina. Commissioners Gary Chapman and Bob Kachel were both absent.
Leer proposes to build a two-story shell building which would be improved by tenants for either office or retail uses. Leer said he would begin marketing three upstairs units and three downstairs units with future tenants needing to obtain permits from the city for interior improvements. He said the upper floor office space will be perfect for insurance, real estate or law firms while the downstairs would be ideal for a sandwich shop or retail shops.
Leer, who has projects in Modesto and Turlock, said he expects construction to start this spring and be ready by fall.
"Staff supports the project as it would provide some new construction in downtown Ceres which meets the intent of the Downtown Specific Plan, and the project encourages both the development and reuse of an underutilized parcel," wrote Associate Planner James Michaels in his report to the commission. He added that staff feels that the project offers "an attractive new building to the downtown area."
Michaels also said "in our opinion this will not only be one of the most aesthetically pleasing buildings in downtown, but in all of Ceres."
The new building, coupled with the design of the $1 million Turlock Irrigation District office at 2944 Third Street which opened in 2009, is likely to be the design standards for new construction in downtown, Michaels said.
"It'll be a nice improvement to any downtown," said Leer. "We're hoping that you like it. It's a great place near the freeway."
Smith said she feels the design is attractive and that she is familiar with Leer's projects in downtown Modesto.
Molina commented that he likes Leer's building in Turlock so much that he would like to own it someday.
"I like the design, I like the idea," said Molina. "It goes right along with what we've been talking about revitalizing downtown. The building is beautiful and I wish we had it right in front of the freeway where people can see it but hey it's an awesome start. Welcome to Ceres."
Leer said he is offering a modified gross leasing rate of $1.50 per square foot.