Af­ter a long de­lay, Ceres Wal­mart Su­per­center is back on track

The Modesto Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY MAR­I­JKE ROW­LAND mrow­[email protected]­bee.com Mar­i­jke Row­land: 209-578-2284, @mar­i­jkerow­land

As shop­pers across the Cen­tral Val­ley pack stores this hol­i­day sea­son, this time next year in Ceres, cus­tomers could be lin­ing up at a brand new Wal­mart Su­per­center.

In March of this year, the re­tail gi­ant, which has had a reg­u­lar Wal­mart store in Ceres since 1993, sub­mit­ted con­struc­tion doc­u­ments to the city for its long-de­layed su­per­center. Those plans have since been re­viewed and ap­proved, and they’re ready to be is­sued, ac­cord­ing to Tom West­brook, Ceres’ direc­tor of com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment.

Plans for the Wal­mart Su­per­center were first an­nounced more than a decade ago, in 2007. The re­tailer will be the an­chor in the pro­posed 300,000square-foot Mitchell Ranch Cen­ter on the north­west cor­ner of Mitchell and Ser­vice roads in Ceres.

But de­vel­op­ment hit a le­gal road­block in 2011 when a group of Ceres res­i­dents sued the city and Wal­mart to stop the pro­ject. The en­su­ing three-year court bat­tle ended in late 2014, when a Stanis­laus Su­pe­rior Court ruled in the com­pany’s fa­vor and gave it the green light to move for­ward.

Be­fore con­struc­tion could be­gin, some road im­prove­ments and other work had to be com­pleted. The City of Ceres widened por­tions of Mitchell and Ser­vice roads and in­stalled a sig­nal at Mitchell and Ser­vice. Some other sewer and wa­ter im­prove­ments were also fin­ished.

Now Wal­mart of­fi­cials are wait­ing on ap­proval from Cal­Trans to in­stall two tem­po­rary sig­nal lights that to be on Mitchell Road at the High­way 99 off ramps. Once those are fi­nal­ized, West­brook ex­pects the com­pany to pull its per­mits and be­gin con­struc­tion.

He said the city hopes to have the per­mits is­sued in the next two to three months. Con­struc­tion would be­gin shortly af­ter that and could take up to a year.

At about 185,000 square feet, the Wal­mart Su­per­center will be larger than the ex­ist­ing Ceres Wal­mart (which is 130,000 square feet). The new store will carry a larger se­lec­tion of gro­cery and fresh pro­duce as well as other prod­ucts.

It re­mains to be seen what other busi­nesses will join the Wal­mart Su­per­center in the Mitchell Ranch Cen­ter. Once com­pleted, the com­plex will have an ad­di­tional 100,000 square feet of re­tail space to fill. West­brook said no other ten­ants are lined up for the re­main­ing slots. But years ago, Ap­ple­bee’s Neigh­bor­hood Grill had ex­pressed in­ter­est in the site.

Also up in the air is the pro­posed Gate­way Cen­ter across the street from Mitchell Ranch com­plex, on the south­west cor­ner of the in­ter­sec­tion. West­brook said the city is ex­pect­ing to re­ceive a de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion for the tri­an­gu­lar plot be­fore the end of the year.

Else­where on the Busi­ness Beat:

Sick of eat­ing turkey left­overs? Then check out Togo’s new Pay It For­ward Pro­gram in Modesto for a feel-good twofer.

The city’s two Togo’s stores, at McHenry Vil­lage and Stan­di­ford Av­enue, are un­der new man­age­ment and are cel­e­brat­ing with a new pro­gram to help Modesto schools. Owner Givo Ishaya is giv­ing schools com­pli­men­tary coupon cards to sell, with all the prof­its go­ing back to the schools.

The buy-one-get-one­free sand­wich cards sell for $20 and are good for 52 pur­chases in a year. So far, stu­dents at Downey, Enochs and Modesto High Schools have signed on for the pro­gram.

Tur­lock na­tive Ishaya said he hopes to ex­pand the fundrais­ing pro­gram to more schools in the area. So far, he es­ti­mates that the stores have do­nated close to $9,000 worth of coupon cards.

Find out more about the pro­gram at the two Togo’s in Modesto, at 1700 McHenry Av­enue and 2900 Stan­di­ford Av­enue.

MARTY BICEK [email protected]­bee.com

The north­west cor­ner of Ser­vice and Mitchell roads in Ceres is the fu­ture site of the Mitchell Ranch Cen­ter, which is sched­uled to house a Wal­mart Su­per­center. Work on the pro­ject is set to start in Jan­uary.

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