Still, no plans for the Walmart Supercenter and the Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center.
That's the latest word from city officials who are hopeful that 2018 is the magic year for the start-up of construction.
"I'm hoping it gets built before I retire here which is still a long ways away," laughed Tom Westbrook, director of Community Development for the city of Ceres. "My daughter was born the week that their application was filed and she'll be 11 in April. I mean, that's how long this has been going."
Despite the lack of building plans so far, Westbrook remains confident about Walmart proceeding.
"It's good news that the engineer has been working with us to identify all the fees that are going to be necessary for the city and county and school district and usually that gives me a pretty good indication that they're building their pro forma, kind of figuring out what it's going to cost and they're getting closer and closer to that submission of building permits but we still don't have them in our hot little hands yet. It's been a year since the lawsuit's been resolved. It's like we're the horse in the starting gate and the gate never opens and so I can't wait for that building permit to come in so then we can control the plan check process and get it out and get them ready to go."
The project was stalled for nearly a decade by an opposition group that frequently interjected frivolous legal arguments through the environmental review process. The group named itself "Citizens for Ceres" in the template of other anti-Walmart groups formed in other California communities. The Ceres City Council approved the shopping center in 2011 but it immediately went to court after the group continued to fighting the project. In December 2016 Walmart was cleared to proceed with construction of the 26-acre shopping center for the northwest corner of Service and Mitchell roads. The group, led by Sheri Jacobson, lost its second and final court fight to block construction of the center and its anchor tenant, Walmart Supercenter. When the state Supreme Court failed to hear the appeal of a lower court decision, the protesting group exhausted their legal options.
If the Walmart Supercenter is constructed,
The Walmart Supercenter building itself is large at 185,668 square feet but the shopping center total nearly 300,000 square feet and also includes:
• Major retailer #2 - 28,000 square feet;
• Major retailer #3 - 13,500 square feet;
• Major retailer #4 - 14,000 square feet;
• Four smaller retails shop spaces at 7,000, 8,500, 11,700 and 12,200 square feet.
• A stand-alone retail pad of 3,250 square feet;
• Three restaurant pads ranging from 3,000 to 4,000 square feet.