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Empty storefronts filling up on Hatch Rd.
Ross, Hot Rod Diner, Big Kahuna on the way
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Finishing touches were being placed last week on a renovated building on Hatch Road where five new leases gave been signed, including a new self-serve frozen yogurt shop. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Ross Dress for Less leads a list of businesses that will soon be filling up vacant buildings along the Hatch Road Corridor.

A flurry of construction activity is a sign that the economy is growing stronger in Ceres and a welcome sight for city officials.

"Hatch Road was one of the city's first major commercial corridors, and is still important to us today," said Steve Hallam, the city's Redevelopment/Economic Development Manager. "With almost 30,000 vehicles traveling through this corridor each day, Hatch Road is a desirable shopping area for many local and national retailers and we expect to see the retail mix increase. While some older strip commercial and retail centers still exist, we expect to see revitalization to these centers occur as the city continues to grow, particularly as we approach a population of 50,000 residents, a key variable for many major national retailers."

On the south side of Hatch Road, in the building that originally housed Hollywood Video followed by Neo X clothing store, construction work has just wrapped up to create five individual spaces. A representative of Pickett & Sons, the company which has renovated the shell, said the five businesses to occupy the structure include Togo's sandwich shop, Verizon, T-Mobile, Big Kahuna Frozen Yogurt and a nail and beauty salon.

Big Kahuna is a chain of self-serve yogurt shops with locations in Sacramento, Elk Grove, Woodland, Visalia, Tulare, Clovis, Porterville, Hanford, Reedley, Livermore, Selma and Oakhurt.

Closer to the freeway, the shell that once housed Jenny's Family Dining on Herndon Road, is being prepared for a Hot Rod Diner. Jim Delhart, who had the building constructed about 40 years ago, reported that he sold the building last week. The diner is the one in Turlock.

Delhart said four restaurants operated on the site, including the Stone Pony, Crazy Delbert's, Delhart's Family Dining and Jenny's Family Dining.

Ross Dress for Less is coming soon to the former Staples building, which has been vacant - except for a seasonal use as a Halloween costume store - since its closure on June 28, 2014. The national clothing chain has been around for 30 years and has grown to approximately 1,300 stores. Ross is affiliated with dd's discounts, which opened in Ceres in 2014.

"It's a nice move up in our apparel retailers in our city, and appeals to a very broad audience or base of consumers and would be a great addition to the Ceres retail market," said Steve Hallam, the city's Economic Development manager.

In other economic development activities, the Ceres Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit on Monday to allow a temporary used car sales lot on 2.3 acres at 1612 E. Whitmore Avenue. The project calls for construction of a 2,400-square-foot building as an office with car and truck washing and detailing. Dirk Wyatt is the applicant in the project.