No one ever say the development process is quick in California. No company knows that more than Walmart, which has permits from the city to build a new Supercenter at Service and Mitchell roads but is now forced to wait on Caltrans.
But what’s a couple of months when you’ve been waiting for almost 12 years?
Walmart needs to obtain an encroachment permit to work in Caltrans’ right-of-way for two new temporary signal lights at the Mitchell/Highway 99 interchange necessary for the project. The temporary signals – to be installed at Walmart’s expense – will be placed where the southbound Highway 99 off-ramp meets the Mitchell Road on-ramp and on the northbound off-ramp at Mitchell Road. The temporary signals will be removed once the city builds a new interchange at Service Road and modifies the Mitchell Road interchange configuration.
City Manager Toby Wells said Caltrans submitted comments on Walmart’s application and should be on track for approval in March. Once that’s done, Walmart can commence building the long-awaited Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center and its anchor tenant of the Supercenter.
City of Ceres Community Development Director Tom Westbrook said the temporary signals will likely be in place for four or five years until the new interchange is finished in 2021 to 2023.
“Once Walmart has that they have everything they need to build,” said Westbrook.
The company has yet to tell the city when they expect to begin construction. Westbrook said the Ceres Chamber of Commerce and the city want to celebrate in a groundbreaking.
“When they pulled their building permit they had their contractor in here so they’re mobilizing on that end,” said Westbrook. He said Shames Construction has been selected since they do work for Walmart on the west coast.
In March 2018 the company submitted building plans and filed an application for a building permit for construction of a new Walmart Supercenter – nearly 11 years after the project was originally proposed in 2007. The delays were caused by an opposition group which ultimately ran out the clock in their legal challenges.
Mayor Chris Vierra said he heard that In-N-Out Burger is interested in scoping out sites in the area for a new restaurant. Westbrook said he had not heard that.
“A lot of folks say, ‘I’ve got to go to Turlock, I’ve got to go to Modesto. Steve (Hallam), and Toby (Wells) and I are kind of saying ‘Hey, you know, we’re going to have a pretty good little spot in between and maybe we can get some of those eateries that Modesto or Turlock doesn’t have and their residents will come here and use our services.”
Once the Supercenter is constructed the current Walmart at Hatch and Mitchell will be closed and marketed for another use. City officials expect the building to be offered for non-competing businesses, possibly split into two or more spaces.
Owners of adjacent empty parcels have been awaiting the development of Mitchell Ranch since it will serve as a magnet for development of their properties.