Will Faraday Future, the start-up electric car maker, bring jobs to Hanford? Locals have been waiting for the dirt to fly at the big empty million square foot warehouse in the Hanford Industrial Park since last summer when a lease was announced.
Now, for the first time, we are seeing activity. This week the city site-plan-review meeting will include contractors and consultants for Faraday Future discussing the remodel of the big building with city staff.
Also, Community Development Director Darlene Mata says she expects the filing for the first permit for the company, a demolition permit for the interior of the building.
“There is plenty going on behind the scenes,” advises Mata.
At a February supplier conference in L.A., a company spokesman discussed the Hanford plant and their new car-FF 91. ”Our Hanford factory project is developing according to our planned schedule, and we appreciate the support given to us by the City of Hanford,” said Dag Reckhorn, SVP of Global Manufacturing. “We are well into the process of design and permitting and have begun planning our recruitment cadence. As of Feb. 1, the property has been completely vacated, so we will move forward on construction and equipment by the end of the quarter. We remain on an aggressive, yet workable timeline of year-end delivery for FF 91.”
We all know what a port looks like. There’s water and ships stacked high with shipping containers. But those are often in busy areas on the coast: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland. Well, one Central Valley county has decided to get in on the shipping and distribution game. That county is partnering with the Port of Los Angeles to give their region a boost for distributing around the world.
Just outside the city of Merced, slightly east of Highway 99 is what used to be Castle Air Force Base. Like most areas of the Valley, it’s rural. Across the road from the center are train tracks, and you can hear the railroad crossing signals ding. This unincorporated area of Merced County will soon become an inland port.
Now, there isn’t any water around; we’re still in the Central Valley. It won’t be the kind of port that serves ships and boats. It will be a place for products to be built and materials consolidated, and then sent to the Port of Los Angeles.
Today, two-thirds of the nearly-2,000 acre base is still an airfield, but the rest of it is the Castle Commerce Center.
“This is a site that has roughly about 75 tenants, about a 100 different lease holds,” says Mark Hendrickson, directory of community and economic development for Merced County. “We generate about $2.9 million in lease revenue.”
Merced County is hoping to use a portion of the former Castle Air Force Base as a hub for manufacturing and distribution in the Central Valley.
CREDIT MERCED COUNTY COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT
Hendrickson says their goal is to redevelop Castle “to really turn it into a site where we can focus some solid attention on manufacturing. We a want to be a place where things are made because when things are made people are working.”
Back in October, Merced County’s Board of Supervisors developed an agreement with the Port of L.A. formalizing what Hendrickson calls a “hub and spokes” development. Merced will become a place of manufacturing and distribution, and use the nearby rail line and freeways to bring goods to L.A. to be shipped around the world. In kind, Castle may also become a place where the Port can send products for distribution.
Merced County isn’t the only Valley county building ties with the Port of L.A. Kern County recently got approval to expand their Foreign Trade Zone at TejonRanch. They also will move the zone’s affiliation to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Port of L.A. The expansion means all of the industrial areas of Tejon Ranch are now within their foreign trade zone. Companies operating there will receive a break on import duties and fees. Tejon Ranch has announced the expansion will bring jobs to Kern County.
Hendrickson says the same could happen in Merced, when it comes to job creation.
“Using today’s workforce numbers, about one out of every nine jobs would be right here at Castle in about twenty years.”
There is one drawback though. More shipping could mean more air pollution.
Dean Florez is a member of the California Air Resources Board and a former state senator from Kern County.
“The kinds of jobs and economic growth this brings are very large diesel trucks that are running a lot of things that make the air a lot worse,” says Florez. “You know, that balance is really important between jobs, growth, and air mitigation.”
One issue is that companies send their trucks full of goods to a port, and then the truck typically returns to the distribution center, empty. If that truck is coming to Merced’s inland port, that could mean hundreds of miles driven just to return the truck.
“Companies need to figure out how to send items to wherever, but that these cargo trucks not come back empty.”
Florez says the Air Resources Board should come up with ways to incentivize companies to share their trucks, and reduce the total number on the road. He also says this is really an opportunity for outside groups to develop something like an Uber for trucks, where they share cargo going to the port and returning to the Valley.
“I doubt it will be state government that comes up with that,” Florez says. “But I do think it will be some outside force that will come in and say, ‘This is the way, really trucks should be running in California, we have this sharing mechanism and it actually would work very, very well.’”
Florez says he plans to bring this up with CARB later this year.
In Merced County, Hendrickson says they plan to use trains to mitigate truck pollution.
“We see our using our rail connectivity on-site to get trucks off the road, improve air quality, open up shipping opportunities for folks not only through Merced County and really throughout the entire San Joaquin Valley to places all over the world,” says Hendrickson.
Finding the best shipping practices from an inland port will take time. And developing an inland port in the first place has been a long time coming.
Mike Dozier is the former Community and Economic Development Director for the city of Clovis. He says that these sorts of deals don’t just happen overnight.
“What happens is you have this vision, and it might be ten years before that vision starts to materialize,” says Dozier.
Dozier says it takes time for infrastructure to develop, and to convince groups to believe in the project’s potential.
“You know, you just build on it, you just have to have things ready for when the time is right.”
For Merced County, officials hope that time is now.
There are new restaurants coming, a few saying goodbye and some places shaking things up a bit.
Empty restaurant spaces are getting snapped up quickly by newcomers, said Craig Holdener, a vice president at commercial real estate firm Newmark Grubb/Pearson Commercial.
Some of the new restaurants are taking over spaces that haven’t been empty for long, like the former Guadalajara and Mother Mary’s at Willow and Nees avenues.
Others are building new kitchens in existing buildings or in new shopping centers.
Here’s a look at what’s happening.
1. Butterfish California Poke opened its first Clovis restaurant late last month. At 1850 Herndon Ave., it’s in the new shopping center at Fowler Avenue, next to the Five Guys Burgers & Fries.
Like the original Butterfish at Friant Road and Fresno Street (and another in the works at Palm and Herndon avenues), the restaurant specializes in poke. That’s the Hawaiian-inspired dish of raw, bite-size pieces of tuna or other fish.
The new Butterfish offers some hot appetizers that the existing one doesn’t: Sriracha shrimp, Tokyo fries (sweet potatoes fries with a sweet-and-spicy drizzle) and maitake (tempura mushrooms served with a curry ranch dipping sauce).
In addition to the typical ingredients offered in poke bowls, the Clovis location has slow-cooked, thin-sliced beef and a few other new options.
“There’s quite a few new and different things out there,” said co-owner Rema Koligian. “We’re just trying to test the market and see what resonates with people.”
The new place is a little more colorful than the original too, with bright art and wall treatment that evokes an ocean wave. The restaurant also has a walk-up window where people can pick up food they’ve ordered via the Butterfish app.
The Napa Dog with Tioga-Sequoia beer in the background, shown at Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats and Brew Thursday, September 10, 2015 in Fresno, Calif. The eatery has opened its first Clovis location, at
The restaurant serves sausages piled high with toppings and house-made potato chips. The Napa dog, for example, is a sweet chicken sausage on a grilled baguette with fig-onion jam and crumbled goat cheese.
Rocket Dog also offers sandwiches and salads.
The restaurant has 24 taps stocked with craft beer, about double the number at its original location at on Shaw Avenue near Highway 41.
That same center has two restaurants in the works that probably won’t open for a while.
3. Clovis Pizza Subs Yogurt will open next to Slice of India, probably this summer.
4. 13 Prime Steak has signed a lease for the former Mother Mary’s pizza place, but still has a lot of work ahead of it before opening.
But after four years of planning, construction costs have quadrupled and the owners changed their minds, said Amy Rose, the director of operations who owns the Valley franchises with her father, Bob Rose.
This isn’t the end of Black Bear here, though. The owners are sniffing around for a location, especially in Fresno. Stay tuned for more on that.
At the Fresno Steak ‘n Shake, which opened last March, cook Daniel Aguilar, left, and other employees practice for opening day.
There’s a lot of buzz about what might be happening at the northeast corner of Willow and Alluvial avenues, but not a lot of answers.
Here’s what we know: On Feb. 5, the Clovis City Council approved a request for a general plan amendment that would change the corner’s low-density residential designation to one that would allow a convenience store and two restaurants.
That application identifies Steak ‘n Shake as one of the restaurants, confirmed Orlando Ramirez, a senior planner for the City of Clovis.
But that’s the only piece of evidence linking Steak ‘n Shake to Clovis. A barrage of phone calls to Steak ‘n Shake’s corporate office, other city departments, and firms that represent the applicant produced nothing – not one return phone call.
The Steak ‘n Shake name is not used in a conditional-use permit application and the company has not submitted any plans to the city.
What does all that mean? Steak ‘n Shake could very well be intending to come to Clovis. But there’s a reason they keep quiet early in a process like this. A lot can happen in the months, even years, it can take to develop a corner. And plans can fall through.
Old Town Donuts opened last week, serving all kinds of doughnuts.
Old Town Donuts
7. Old Town Donuts at 30 W. Shaw Ave. opened Saturday. The doughnut shop is in the same center as Elephant Lounge near Minnewawa Avenue.
It has colorfully frosted doughnuts, doughnut holes, bear claws and “jelly drops” – mini-doughnuts with fillings such as lemon.
Aurore Chhun and her husband run the shop, though it’s Chhun who has the background in restaurants. Born in France, her family moved to Cambodia when she was 10. At one point, she and her parents ran a restaurant on a boat, with her mother cooking as her father steered the boat.
But after the boat burned down, she ended up in Clovis, where her husband is from.
The former Forestiere’s Place, 401 Clovis Ave., bottom floor of the tall building at center, has been a new owner and will become The Bottleneck Bistro.
JOHN WALKER firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Bottleneck Bistro will eventually open in Old Town Clovis. You may have noticed Forestiere’s Place, at 401 Clovis Ave. Suite 106, has closed. It was bought by a new owner, Mark Kazanjian, who will reopen it in the coming weeks or months.
He’s redoing the interior and working on a new menu.
The restaurant will focus on quality wines, craft beer and spirits, with a full bar.
Although the menu will have sandwiches, burgers and salads, it will be a different from typical pub fare, Kazanjian said. It will include short ribs braised in red wine and dried mission figs, beer-battered fried cheese curds, and mac ‘n‘ cheese balls stuffed with cream cheese and bacon.
Chicago’s Pizza With-A-Twist is planning to open its third restaurant in the area, this one at 497 N. Clovis Ave. near Arsenio’s Mexican Food.
Chicago’s serves traditional pizza (like all-meat and vegetarian fare), but also pizza inspired by Indian food. It’s a bit like taking the dishes you get at Indian restaurants and turning them into toppings atop a typical American pizza. The menu includes the popular butter chicken pizza and Tandoori chicken pizza. Several pizzas have paneer, the Indian cheese sometimes mistaken for tofu.
Chicago’s is a chain with restaurants all over California. It has two locations in Fresno (at Kings Canyon Road and Clovis Avenue, and at Shaw and Marks avenues).
There’s still a lot of work left to be done inside, so it may be a few weeks or months until it opens.
Cool Hand Luke’s, 955 Shaw Ave., has changed hands and have added lunch and now open at 11 a.m. daily.
The restaurant pulled some favorites from the dinner menu to offer at lunch, including sandwiches, burgers and salads. It added six new lunch dishes. One – perhaps taking a page from Olive Garden’s popular lunch option – features unlimited soup, salad and sourdough rolls for $8.95.
Sergio Hinojosa, walking his bike, looks forward to the opening of Triangle Burgers Drive In, 200 W. Shaw Ave. in Clovis.
The popular old-school diner has three locations in Fresno and is known for its burgers, crinkle-cut fries and milkshakes.
Workers have ripped out the interior of the restaurant and are redoing it. The owner had hoped to open in December, but is now looking at an April debut.
Jersey Mike’s Subs has closed a Clovis location, but still has five locations in Fresno and Clovis.
12. Jersey Mike’s Subs, which opened in 2015 at the corner of Shaw and Villa avenues, closed Jan. 14. The company says it plans to relocate the restaurant, though just where and when haven’t been determined.
Mickey’s Yogurt is selling raw cookie dough that’s safe to eat.
13. Mickey’s Yogurt at Shaw and Armstrong avenues still is serving frozen yogurt, but has added something different: raw cookie dough.
We’ve all heard the warnings about raw cookie dough because of the potential for salmonella from raw eggs (and lately, E. coli from flour). So owner Tiffany Howell and business partner Daryl France – who is also her grandmother and Mickey is Howell’s grandfather – came up with a cookie dough recipe that’s safe to eat. There are no eggs in the recipe and it uses treated flour.
Customers can buy the cookie dough by the scoop, similar to scoops of ice cream. One scoop starts at $3.49 and toppings can be added.
Published On February 27, 2018 – 12:30 PM Written By Gabriel Dillard
Business owner and philanthropist Robert E. Smittcamp has given $10 million to benefit the neuroscience department at Community Medical Centers — representing the largest single cash gift for the Fresno-based health care system, according to hospital officials.
The gift will be used toward recruiting “world class” neurosurgeons; education, training and retention efforts for department nurses and clinicians; new technological advancements and establishing the Central California Neuroscience Institute at Community Regional as a leader in neurological specialties, according to a statement from Katie Zenovich, Community Medical Centers vice president for corporate development and chief development officer.
“We are so grateful to Bob,” Zenovich said. “His leadership in philanthropy will help us do much more to save and improve lives for decades to come.”
Combined with a 2016 gift to Community Medical Centers, the Smittcamp Family Foundation has contributed more than $11 million to the neuroscience program.
The first son of Earl and Muriel Smittcamp, founders of Wawona Frozen Foods, Robert — known around town as Bob — serves as chairman and CEO of food ingredient company Lyons Magnus.
A message Tuesday morning seeking comment from Smittcamp was not returned.
Community Medical Centers released the following statement from Smittcamp:
“We are impressed with the ambitious vision and leadership of Community Medical Centers and their rapid growth over the last decade,” Smittcamp said. “However, additional growth and recruitment of world-class neurosurgeons is still required to ensure the success of this service line. I am hoping this new gift will accelerate the hospital’s plans in this critical service area that affects so many Valley families.”
“I’ve become knowledgeable about Community Medical Centers over the past decade and concluded that it’s the charity where I can make the biggest difference, for the most people, for the greatest number of years,” Smittcamp added. “This is the Valley’s main hospital system, and I hope many others will join me in helping to grow its capabilities.”
Community Regional Medical Center’s Downtown Fresno campus is the home of the Central California Neuroscience Institute.