Visalia industrial building boom continues

VISALIA – While most Valley industries struggle to find workers to fill vacant positions, industrial facilities are booming in Visalia bringing with them hundreds of jobs for Tulare County residents. Tulare County has already added more than 3,000 jobs in the “trade, transportation and utilities” sector in the last year, according to the California Employment Development Department.  The latest large-scale facilities to file plans for the Visalia Industrial Park are Seefried Industrial Properties and Fowler Packing. Seefried is a major developer with over 190 million square feet of speculative or “spec” industrial warehouses across the nation and regional offices in southeast, southwest, west and midwest. It is also the same company already underway on construction of the recently announced Ace Hardware distribution center. Ace’s 1.1 million square foot facility is on 80 acres just south of this new 535,540 square foot spec building on 39 acres. The two parcels were acquired at the same time.

Seefried’s latest project, at the northeast corner of Avenue 76 and West Goshen Avenue, is a spec project, so no tenant has been announced. The complex includes parking for 545 cars and 1,760 trailer parking stalls. This facility could accommodate a single tenant or up to four tenants. Access to the site will be from North Plaza Drive to the east and Route 76 to the west. There is a private access road to the north (From Plaza Drive) that will provide two full-access driveways with code required fire access around the perimeter. Construction ground-breaking is estimated in the fourth quarter of 2022 with full completion of the project in 2023.

The second  building project is being  proposed by Fowler Packing, a subsidiary of G4 Enterprises, Ltd., owned by the Parnagian in Fresno. Called the Duarte Industrial project, Fowler Paking’s 15-acre development is located east of North Kelsey Street and south of West Goshen Avenue. This the second filing of the project at site plan review after initial comments were received by the developer. The proposed development consists of the construction and operation of an office/warehouse style, shell building that is approximately 313,000 square feet. The proposed building will have four offices and approximately 48 loading docks on the south side of the building. The project will provide approximately 382 standard parking stalls for employee parking including eight handicap stalls and future EV charging stations. Access to the site is provided off of North Kelsey Street. Operational times are typical of warehouse style facilities and may operate up to 24 hours a day and 7 days a week since it will be a warehouse for distribution of goods.

G4 Enterprises is not new to Visalia having acquired Midstate 99 Distribution Center, a 790,000-square-foot industrial complex in Visalia, for $33.4 million in 2017. G4 has also been busy in Fresno where they brought in Amazon west of Highway 99 a few years ago. Now the developer is being thwarted on expanding in West Fresno due to opposition from community groups. At the same time, negotiations with community groups lead to an agreement from G4 to reinforce homes in south central Fresno in response to added traffic from a second Amazon sorting facility near the first. At a hearing last spring, developer Leland Parnagian noted that “The U.S. is really undergoing a shift in how people buy things from in-store to online and that’s really driving changes in employment around the country.” Also in Fresno, Seefried is breaking ground on a second “last mile delivery” warehouse  in Fresno for Amazon. No such facility is known to be happening in Visalia, as of yet.

New $28 Million Arts Center Breaks Ground at Reedley College

A dusty corner of the Reedley College campus was the focus of great excitement Wednesday morning with the groundbreaking ceremony for the new McClarty Center for Fine and Performing Arts. Harold McClarty, owner of HMC Farms, said that when he was asked why his family was making a significant donation to the project, his response was that “there’s nothing more important than music and art. It makes you human. It’s what we’re all about.” Reedley College, one of the Valley’s oldest campuses, has music and art in its curriculum but has lacked a place to showcase the work of students, faculty, and the community. That’s going to change with the opening of the McClarty Center, President Jerry Buckley said.

The 24,000-square-foot center in the northeast corner of campus off Reed Avenue will be a state-of-the-art facility, with features not found in other Valley performing centers, said Robert Petithomme, managing principal of Darden Architects, the center’s designer. He said the McClarty Center will draw audiences from all over. Celebrating the groundbreaking of an arts and music center seems especially timely now, State Center Chancellor Carole Goldsmith said. Reedley College is one of four colleges in the State Center Community College District.“If anything, these last two years of having been shuttered and in our homes, and now as we’re facing incredible turmoil globally, it’s really the arts, it’s the ability to come together and sing, and dance, that bring us together as humans, that bring us together in love,” she said. “And Reedley College now will have a place for our students and our community to come together and do just that, to celebrate life.” The McClarty Center will include the 500-seat Pete Peters Theatre, a secured art gallery, green room, conference room, concessions and an event gathering space. The project is estimated to cost $28 million.

Madera Community College offers new wine-making class

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) — Madera Community College is taking action to introduce students to a new career path. The college is offering a new wine-making class to students. Madera Community College sophomore Rocky Beckett says he’s used to life on the farm, but says he wanted a taste of something new.”Growing up, my family farmed grapes and almonds and stuff,” explained Beckett. “In our Central Valley, grapes and wine is a big industry, so it’s nice to know the process of different irrigation methods for grapes, different harvesting methods and all that, ” added Beckett.

He was eager to enroll in Madera Community College’s first-ever viticulture class. The nine-week class kicks off March 14 and will cover everything from vine care to the wine-making process. “For this class, students will be learning the general ins and outs when it comes to growing grapes as well as processing grapes, what it means to the industry and what it takes to grow it,” said Madera Community College Agriculture Instructor Elizabeth Mosqueda. Most importantly, it will highlight the processes specific to the Central Valley. “Get a general idea of what it takes here in Madera County to grow grapes and why it’s important to our industry,” added Mosqueda. Setting students like Beckett up for success. “It would be nice to be a farm manager for a big corporation one day,” added Beckett. “Just knowing all this info may help me in the long run.”

Great Wolf Lodge could be coming to Tulare County

Tulare County’s very own Sequoia Gateway Commerce Center could be the new home of a destination hotel ― the Great Wolf Lodge ― best described as a “cruise ship that’s permanently parked.” At the start of the year, the Tulare County planning commission listened to updates surrounding the project, something that has been in the works for years, Project Manager Stephen Peck said.  “You go there (the Great Wolf Lodge), park your car… the rooms are large and everything is indoors,” Peck said during the Jan. 12 meeting. “It fits the tourism model for the county very well.”

The 700-room, seven-story resort includes plans for an indoor water park, family entertainment center, as well as an outdoor pool area.   “It creates an element of international, national presence,” Peck said. “For people coming to California, now there is a stronger attraction to have them travel 99 and stop here and visit our county rather than traveling up I-5 visiting other counties and destinations.”

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted to move forward with the Sequoia Gateway Commerce Center project in 2018, which will include a Valley Children’s pediatric specialty care clinic, a visitor center, gas stations, fast-food restaurants, hotels, office space, and retail stores. Kaweah Health is also looking at space in the area. Peck said during the Jan. 12 meeting that construction on the Tulare County Great Wolf Lodge location could start as early as next year.  “We are currently exploring the prospect of developing one of our signature indoor water park resorts for the Central California region and are in early stage discussions with local officials about a promising location in Tulare County,” Jason Lasecki, Great Wolf Lodge vice president of corporate communications, said.

Great Wolf Resorts is North America’s largest family of indoor waterpark resorts with 19 locations throughout the United States and one in Canada.   Great Wolf Resorts can be found in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Massachusetts, North Carolina, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland and Canada. We are appreciative of the support for this endeavor from both Tulare county and city of Visalia officials,” Lasecki continued, “and look forward to continuing discussions as we further evaluate this opportunity.”


Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Lemoore has begun a yearlong expansion and remodel. The $80 million project includes interior and exterior improvements with plans to add 24,000 square feet of additional space and linking current amenities to create a more cohesive campus, according to a news release. Part of the plan includes connecting the Coyote Entertainment Center, casino and hotel; creating an easier flow through both the main floor and third floor; an expansive sports bar with indoor and outdoor dining; an extended food court; large high-limit room on the third floor and updated hotel rooms.“We can’t think of a better way to kick off 2021 than to begin our exciting expansion and continue to offer the ultimate experience for our guests,” said Michael Olujic, general manager of Tachi Palace Casino Resort. “These improvements will give Tachi Palace even more of a resort feel, allowing guests to have more fluid movement between our amenities including Coyote Entertainment Center, the hotel, casino, gas station and new offerings. They will no longer have to leave one to easily access the other.”

Tachi palace partnered with Las Vegas Based Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc. for architecture and design services. “In addition to connecting all the amazing offerings at Tachi Palace Casino Resort, our expansion will include more, much-needed job opportunities for our community,” said Leo Sisco, chairman of Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi-Yokut Tribe. “We are proud to continue our commitment to our local community, as our economic development projects not only provide a more pleasant experience for our patrons, they also contribute to the betterment of our local area.” A spokesperson said it was hard to estimate how many jobs the expansion would create in the current environment for the entertainment industry.

Faraday Future Unveils First Production-Intent FF 91 EV Manufactured at its Hanford, Calif. Plant

Hanford, Calif. (Feb. 23, 2022) – Faraday Future Intelligent Electric Inc. (“FF”) (NASDAQ: FFIE), a California-based global shared intelligent electric mobility ecosystem company, today unveiled the first production-intent FF 91 ultra-luxury EV. This marks the company’s manufacturing Milestone #4, pre-production builds for final engineering validation and certification, now referred to as production-intent vehicles. FF remains on schedule for the FF 91 start of production (“SOP”) in Q3 2022.

“Building the first production-intent vehicle at the Hanford plant is an important step towards reaching the start of production in Q3. This iteration is the closest to the FF 91 production model we’ve seen to-date,” said Matt Tall, vice president of manufacturing at FF. “The FF 91 is expected to be the first ultra-luxury EV to reach the market, with a unique driver and passenger experience.”The company will build more production-intent vehicles over the coming months for vehicle testing and validation, as well as final certification. Production-intent vehicles feature production-specification components.

In October 2021, FF laid out seven manufacturing milestones leading into the FF 91’s SOP. Milestone #1 – Installation of pilot equipment in the Hanford manufacturing plant’s pre-production build area; Milestone #2 – Securing a Certificate of Occupancy, clearing the path for the company’s pre-production builds; and Milestone #3 – Begin foundation construction for all remaining production areas including body, paint, warehouse and vehicle assembly. The first three milestones have been reached, and today’s event marks Milestone #4 – Pre-production builds for final engineering validation and certification.

With the completion of the first production-intent vehicle, FF is launching the “Born in California, Global DNA” multi-channel communication campaign along with our “ieMedals” co-creation campaign. The FF 91 is designed and built in California by FF Co-Creators and the company’s global employees, with technology from many top tier suppliers from across the globe. To commemorate the production achievements of the FF 91, the company launched the ieMedals campaign. With each production-intent vehicle manufactured in the months leading up to the FF 91’s SOP, FF will honor a different supplier of the FF 91 from around the globe with a unique ieMedal. Users on the FF Intelligent App can earn the supplier ieMedals for their individual accounts by completing specific tasks or fulfilling co-creation challenge requirements. The ieMedals are electronic awards added to users’ FFID accounts on the FF Intelligent App.

Sustainable Prefabricated Custom Home Builder to Expand Operations to Tejon Ranch

TEJON RANCH, Calif., Dec. 16, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Tejon Ranch Co. (NYSE: TRC) announced today it has closed on the sale of 17.1 acres of land on the east side of the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center to Scannell Properties, a privately-held real estate development and investment company that focuses on build-to-suit and speculative development of industrial, office and multifamily facilities throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. There, Scannell will build an approximately 270,000-square-foot manufacturing facility for Rialto, CA-based Plant Prefab.

This new factory – Plant Prefab’s third – will serve as the company’s first automated facility and regional production hub, and will be purpose-built to efficiently manufacture custom-prefabricated panelized and modular building components. The hub facility will allow for the full industrialization of Plant Prefab’s patented Plant Building System™️, which combines advanced engineering with specialized Plant Panels™️ and Plant Modules™️ to build custom housing 20 to 50 percent faster than traditional building methods with up to 30 percent less waste at a 10 to 25 percent cost savings in labor-constrained markets. “The Tejon Ranch Commerce Center is an outstanding location – with its efficient access to the interstate and strategic location between Los Angeles and the Bay Area, combined with the efficiencies that will be driven by the state-of-the-art facility, Plant Prefab will be able to expand its reach to the entire Western U.S.,” said Jacob Holdeman with Scannell Properties. “They are establishing their flagship facility in a location that represents a strong value proposition when compared to the Inland Empire and joining an area that is expected to continue growing for decades.”

Steve Glenn, Founder and CEO of Plant Prefab, stated, “Opening the hub facility will be a critical milestone that will move Plant Prefab into the next phase of our evolution, enabling us to construct architectural, sustainable housing more time and cost efficiently, and at higher volumes than we could previously. It will also allow us to expand into larger dwelling formats including large-scale student, affordable and market-rate housing to serve a wider universe of clients including real estate, hospitality, and corporate developers. This represents a significant step toward our ultimate goal of helping to address critical housing issues in supply- and labor-constrained markets.” Plant Prefab’s design and estimating teams are now engaging projects for the new facility, which expects to begin production in January 2023. The launch of the hub will be well timed to help Plant Prefab accommodate rising demand from a growing list of clients, as production contracts have grown by more than 175 percent in the past year alone. Looking ahead, Plant Prefab expects to replicate its hub-and-spoke production model, allowing it to scale efficiently to meet demand across urban infill markets in other regions across the country – including the East Coast – that are similarly well located and primed to serve large populations.

Joseph N. Rentfro, Tejon Ranch Co.’s Executive Vice President of Real Estate, added, “Along with the County of Kern, which awarded Plant Prefab an incentive under the Advance Kern Initiative, we look forward to welcoming this innovative company to Tejon Ranch, as we share their commitment to helping address California’s housing crisis in an efficient, sustainable way. This investment by Scannell Properties, which can – and does – invest all over the world, is further evidence of the strength and appeal of our location. All of our existing industrial space is 100% leased and 100% occupied, and we’re making good progress on a +/- 630,000-square-foot speculative industrial facility we’re building in partnership with Majestic Realty Co., as we look to meet the demand we’re seeing out of Southern California and elsewhere for warehouse, distribution, and now, advanced manufacturing facilities, with Plant Prefab’s new manufacturing hub serving as an example of the type of business identified as a targeted sector for business development in Kern County by the B3K endeavor.” Tejon Ranch Co. is a participant in B3K Prosperity, a collaboration among business, government and civic stakeholders in Bakersfield and Kern County, whose purpose is to create and deliver a joint strategy and investment plan for regional economic growth and opportunity. JLL’s Mac Hewett and Mike McCrary represented all parties in the transaction.

New Valley Amazon warehouse aims to bring faster deliveries

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — A new Amazon warehouse is expected to be up and running in Fresno by the end of the year. The facility is being described as a ‘last mile’ warehouse, helping get all those goodies we buy to our homes.The goal is to get products to your doorstep faster, and residents welcome the new warehouse and the jobs it will bring. The new location will be built on Clovis and Olive avenues where the former Sunnyside Drive-in used to be, and it’s expected to operate 24/7 and employ about 550 people. “I think it’s a great opportunity, it’s an organization that supplies jobs for skilled workers as well as unskilled workers,” said Trent Walley, Lead Pastor of Harmony Church.

This new facility will focus on delivery operations. The so-called “last mile” items will arrive at the new Clovis building from Amazon warehouses around the nation and quickly be sorted for delivery to customers. From there, it’s into Amazon vans or in some cases, private contractors who use their own vehicles for deliveries like Instacart or DoorDash. It all adds up to faster shipping for customers and also potentially more traffic on the roads, but neighboring churches say it shouldn’t be a problem. “Most of their in and out traffic is going to be on Olive, which is already a four-lane with a center turn lane in it, so the infrastructure is there,” explained Walley.

The Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board has worked with Amazon before, and they expect an influx of interest once the warehouse is closer to completion. “We have a lot of businesses talking about labor shortage. I definitely would say that this is a really good time for folks that may be on the fence about whether or not they should apply,” said Martha Espinosa, Marketing and Grant Manager with the Fresno Workforce Development Board. With orders and demand not expected to slow down, positions that may not have been an option for some before are now becoming vacant. “Now they are trying to get it there even faster, so people, they want it now. Even though they are ordering it online, it’s nice to have it now,” added Walley. “A lot of companies are providing opportunities for folks that may not have qualified for certain jobs, so I would definitely say, throw your hat in the ring,” said Espinosa. Amazon did not want to comment on this project just yet, telling Action News to expect an announcement in the coming weeks.

Wind Wolves Preserve: Try this Central California option when Sequoia is a challenge

Winter can be a magical time to visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in Central California: Snow dusts the branches of the mighty ponderosa pines, firs and sequoias; crowds are scarce; and designated meadows and trails present near-perfect sledding and snowshoeing opportunities. But winter also means weather-related road closures, including key arteries such as Generals Highway, which connects the two parks, and Highway 180 between Grant Grove and Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon. This year, visitors will find even more closures due to ferocious fires that swept the area in 2021, burning more than 88,000 acres and destroying an estimated 3 to 5 percent of the world’s mature giant sequoias. All indoor lodging options, including the Wuksachi and John Muir lodges, remain closed indefinitely, and food-service options are limited.

There are advantages to visiting the parks now: Sequoia’s Giant Forest, home to the landmark 275-foot-high General Sherman Tree, has reopened on a limited basis from Friday through Monday. Popular trails such as Congress and Moro Rock remain open, although traction shoes and poles are recommended because of the snowy and icy conditions. If you go, consider a weekend stay in a cabin or motel in the town of Three Rivers near the south entrance. Get to the park early to avoid traffic; bring food, water and tire chains; and stick to paths that are open and deemed safe by park rangers. Also, brace yourself for scenery that includes charred trees and denuded hillsides. “There are definitely places where visual evidence of the fire will be with us for quite some time,” said Rebecca Paterson, a National Park Service public affairs specialist.

Wind Wolves Preserve, about 30 miles south of Bakersfield and about 120 miles from Sequoia’s southern reaches, offers an outdoor experience that is quite different from Sequoia’s lush forests and rivers — yet it’s just as extraordinary and is typically easier to plan for this time of year. Surrounded by oil fields and almond and orange groves, the 93,000-acre preserve is an ecological oasis of open grasslands, saltbush shrubs, riparian wetlands, and native plants and wildlife. A surprisingly robust creek and 15-foot limestone waterfall sit near the main trailheads, while juniper and pinyon forests, oak woodlands, ponderosa pine and bigcone spruce trees can be found in its southern reaches.

A former cattle ranch that dates to the mid-1800s, Wind Wolves takes its name not from resident canines, but from the tall grasses that cover its hills and resemble running animals. The nonprofit Wildlands Conservancy bought the land in 1996 to provide vital habitat to endangered species, such as the San Joaquin kit fox, and rare species, including the tule elk, and to address the “dire need for equitable access to outdoor spaces” in California’s rural Central Valley, said Melissa Dabulamanzi, the preserve manager. With an elevation range that stretches from 640 to 6,000 feet, Wind Wolves offers a year-round network of well-maintained (and dog-friendly) hiking and biking trails, as well as group and individual campsites with potable water and picnic tables. Despite its proximity to the Interstate 5 corridor, Wind Wolves attracts a modest 60,000 to 80,000 visitors every year, according to Dabulamanzi. In contrast, Sequoia and Kings Canyon drew 1.2 million visitors in 2020.

Unlike Sequoia, Wind Wolves Preserve isn’t prone to weather-related closures, although summers can be scorching hot. Winter and spring, when California poppies, grape soda lupine and yellow monolopia often blanket the hills, are good times to visit. The popular San Emigdio Canyon Trail is a leisurely 3.8-mile hike, with creek access and picnic areas. For a hardier workout, check out Tule Elk Trail, a nine-mile loop that leads to a lookout with stunning vistas highlighting the preserve’s diversity. “It’s such a cool vantage point,” Dabulamanzi said. “You have the lush riparian habitat of [San] Emigdio Canyon below, there are the hills to the north and the Los Padres mountains to the south. On a clear day, you can even see the Eastern Sierras.”

Merced dairy turning cow manure into renewable energy

A Merced dairy is converting cow waste into renewable energy. Eileen Martinho works for Maas Energy Works and tells us how it’s done. “This is a dairy digester cluster project, where each dairy is a digester on their facility,” she said. “Then, they are sending methane gas from their digester, which is the purpose of the digester, is to collect the methane gas off of the manure.” After the manure is collected from thousands of cows, a special contraption called a Digester is used to help create renewable natural gas or “biomethane” before it’s sent back through a pipeline to one central location.

Local dairy producer Alex Dejager was hesitant when he was first approached about this project, not knowing the benefits or what it would turn into almost two years later. “Maas Energy came to us, basically knocked on our door and said we have a big dream of doing a project out here to capture emissions from 15,16 different dairies in one little area, pipeline it all to on essential area and basically move that gas to PG&E, and we kind of all laughed at him,” he said.

Approximately 55 percent of California’s methane emissions come from dairies and livestock and after learning more about the good this project can bring, Dejager quickly became involved and he believes more California farmers will have to do the same to stay financially sustainable. “If you think of one milking cow, it equates to taking one car off the road each year,” Martinho said. Although this natural gas will be cleaner, the cost of energy is not expected to decrease anytime soon. “In general, we are trying to lower the cost of the rates for our customers, RNG and this type of project is going to make it more efficient for us to develop cleaner fuels in the future,” says Janisse Quinonez with PG&E.