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New Rite Aid breaks ground

Managing Editor of the

Ceres (Calif.) Courier

With financing in place, ground has been broken on a new 17,340-square-foot store Rite Aid store at the corner of Mitchell and Fowler road near Ceres Fire Station #4.

The city approved the project in early 2009, paving the way for Halferty Development Co., to begin plans for construction. The company's plans were held up when financing became difficult to secure.

Rite Aid plans to abandon its old store in the Save Mart Shopping Center at the corner of Mitchell Road and Whitmore Avenue.

The city had hoped to encourage development of a sit-down restaurant on the site but after two years of trying to attract the likes of Applebee's and Sizzler's, there were no takers because of a lack of freeway visibility. The city got involved in the quest because the site was originally purchased by the city for the fire station. The corner piece wasn't needed so it was sold to developer Phillip Mastagni with the caveat that he attempt to entice a sit-down eatery.

Rite Aid submitted an application on July 28, 2008 to build a new facility to replace its old store down the road. The existing store is too large and the chain was unable to negotiate a lease for smaller space. Jim Halferty of Halferty Development said the existing Rite Aid is in deplorable and "embarrassing" shape. He said Save Mart plans to move into the space.

Greg Smith of Coldwell Banker's commercial division made significant attempts to market the corner to 33 chains. There were no takers, he said, because most chains want to be within the Highway 99 corridor or at a major intersection.