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Starbucks the first of new fast-food chains to open in new center
Ceres Gateway Center sign
The Ceres Gateway Center monument sign is up as the first phase of new businesses are on the verge of opening. Just beneath the sign is the start of the Quick Quack Car Wash. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Before the end of the year the fast-food restaurants that are part of the first phase of the Ceres Gateway Center will be open for business. Starbucks has opened and right behind it are Chipotle, Ono Hawaiian Barbecue and In-N-Out Burger.

After Jan. 1 ushers in the year 2023, a new Quick Quack Car Wash will be open at the northwest area of the center; and a new Union 76 gas station to the southeast as well as a new Popeye’s Chicken restaurant.

Next year the center at the southwest corner of Mitchell and Services roads will see construction for a four-story, 122-room Woodspring Inn & Suites, a 50,800-square-feet hotel. It will occupy a 2.16-acre parcel adjacent to the east side of Highway 99 in the new shopping center.

The third phase will see construction of two junior retail anchor buildings. Christopher Hoem, the city’s Community Development manager, believes the last two commercial buildings will be submitted for Planning Commission consideration in January.

What will this development mean for the city of Ceres’ revenue stream?

The city knows more tax revenue will fill city coffers but doesn’t know to what extent.

“Without knowing what the full capacity of the Ceres Gateway Center will include, the city is unable to give an accurate amount of the potential increase in sales tax revenue,” said Ceres Finance Director Leticia Dias.

Every taxable sales transaction in Ceres is subject to an 8.375 percent sales tax rate. Only one percent of that goes to the city’s general fund and half of one percent to Measure H, which supports public safety; the rest goes to the state and county.

Not only will Ceres will be capturing more tax dollars that otherwise would be lost if, say someone gets an urge for In-N-Burger without having to drive to Turlock or Modesto, but the city will also realize in increase in Measure H, the half-cent sales tax measure approved in 2007 to fund police and fire services. In the fiscal year 2020-21, Measure H raised $4.53 million for public safety.

Once Woodsprings Inn & Suites is constructed and being used for overnight or long-term travelers, the city expects to reap $200,000 annually in the form of the Transient & Occupancy Tax (TOT). The tax is paid when folks rent rooms at hotels in Ceres. Currently the council has determined that those funds will be spent to promote events and programs to boost visits to Ceres and thus spur more business activity.

Hoem expects the hotel to break ground in the first half of next year.

When fully completed, the 13-acre center will include approximately 127,000 square feet of business space.

In 2008 the city approved the Ceres Gateway project as proposed by Ralph Ogden. The project stalled after the economy hit the skids that year. Multiple extensions were granted but the project expired in 2012. The center was redesigned after Ogden passed away and brought back by his son Daniel Ogden in 2020.

While the Ceres Gateway Center is rapidly developing, there appears to be no additional development activity proposed for the Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center to the north where the Walmart Supercenter opened last November. Besides Walmart, the shopping center was approved for 10 other retail shops totaling 114,162 square feet, including three other major tenants, four smaller retail shops, a standalone retail building and two to three new restaurant pads.

City officials report that there have been no companies interested in filling the abandoned Walmart site.