Ever-expanding Tesoro Viejo adds 1,000 lots in Madera. High school, athletic facilities planned

Tesoro Viejo — Madera’s mammoth planned community — took another step Tuesday toward greater expansion as the county’s planning commission approved more than a thousand new residential lots. The subdivision maps approved by the commission set the stage for development in four of the community’s nine planned neighborhoods: Arroyo Village, The Vistas, Oak Knoll Village and The Vineyard.

The growing community already has an onsite K-8 school, a town center, an amphitheater and ranch houses for residents to hang out in — all surrounded by the Rio Mesa’s hilly landscape and bordered to the southeast by the San Joaquin River. Still in the works are an on-site school that also serves high school students, and the Rio Mesa Education Complex, which will include athletic facilities.

Brent McCaffrey, president of McCaffrey Homes, Tesoro Viejo’s developer, told the county’s planning commission he expects the education complex to be completed in the next few years. An age-qualified senior development on the southern edge is also in planning. According to McCaffrey’s presentation, homes planned for construction in each neighborhood are: 307 in Arroyo Village, 259 in The Vistas, 317 in The Vineyards, and 175 in Oak Knoll Village

Tesoro Viejo broke ground in the county’s Rio Mesa area in 2017. It falls under the county’s Rio Mesa Area Plan, a nearly 15,000-acre space bordered by Highway 145 to the north, Millerton Lake to the east, the San Joaquin River to the southeast and Highway 41 to the west. The county hopes to see the full 30,000 homes in the next 30 years.

Jamie Bax, Madera County’s director of community and economic development, said Tesoro Viejo has 922 projects in different phases of construction. The community was recognized this year as the National Community of the Year by the National Association of Home Builders. The Bee spoke to several residents who said that the broader development was starting to feel like a real community.

Lisa Wells, 57, and Laura Rios, 33, neighbors in the Hillside community, said they immediately “hit it off” when they moved in about four years ago. “We immediately became family,” Rios said.

Neighbors said book and bicycling clubs have formed. Brian and Renee Curwick, a married couple who also live in Hillside, joined a local running club before they even moved into the development.

“It absolutely has become a community in a short time,” Brian Curwick said.

So far, Tesoro Viejo has homes in three neighborhoods: Hillside Village, Creekside Village and The Plaza. KB Homes and De Young Properties are also developing homes there. According to McCaffrey’s presentation to the county and conversation with the Bee: 804 homes are planned for Hillside Village, with about 705 homeowners already living there 544 homes are planned for Creekside Village, with a few dozen homeowners already living there About 1,560 homes are planned for The Plaza, with approximately 46 already sold.

Upcoming in this neighborhood are also about 540 apartments, 230 duplexes and 250 “Wildrose” homes In The Plaza, sales are set to begin for Tesoro Viejo’s “Boulevard” product – two-story homes ranging in size from 1,200 to 1,700 square feet. Already on the market are the “Poppy” homes, which McCaffrey said are designed to be affordable for first-time home buyers. Prices for Poppy homes start in the $300,000s. “Tesoro Viejo is not about high-end living,” McCaffrey said. “We have made a commitment to having products that are available for all walks of life or demographics.”

Homes in the highest price ranges start in the high $500,000s with the Oaks collection and in the high $600,000s with the Ivy Collection, which has homes of more than 4,000 square feet. Different price ranges will also be found in the new subdivisions. McCaffrey said construction on Rio Mesa Boulevard — a new north-south road that will begin about 2,200 feet east of the Avenue 12 and Highway 41 intersection and traverse a few miles north to Avenue 15 — is expected to begin in the second quarter of next year. Traffic on Highway 41 has increased from an average of 29,000 daily trips when the development first began to about 40,000 daily trips today, he said.



Merced airport terminal project to usher in new transportation era, city says

City leaders and community members gathered to break ground on a $17 million terminal replacement project at the Merced Yosemite Regional Airport on Thursday. The new airport terminal is planned for the site of the former Hanger BBQ, according to Deputy City Manager Frank Quintero. It will have a dedicated TSA area, updated passenger areas, aviation and airport administration offices as well as upgrades to services in an effort to enhance the overall experience for airline passengers. The project will also include updates to the existing terminal built in the 1940s.

“Our airport is a diamond in the rough, said Quintero. “It’s a gem that has really not been appreciated but now we’re calling attention to it because we want to take it to the next level and that’s what this project is going to do.”

The total cost of the project is expected to be about $17 million for the 11,000 square-foot facility. According to Quintero, roughly $14 million comes from a Federal Aviation Administration grant. The project will introduce an energy-efficient and sustainable facility while meeting current and future demands and addressing the need for modernization, according to the city.

Merced Mayor Matthew Serratto called the project important saying it was one in a big line of really good city projects that are coming. According to Serrratto, the project is a step toward longer economic development, allowing Merced to truly live up to its name and to become a better gateway to Yosemite. “We’ll have planes, trains and automobiles coming here, people getting to Yosemite,” Serratto said.

According to Regional Airport Authority Chairman Bob Scoble, Merced’s airport was originally certified in 1932 and operated as an airport until about 1941-42 when the United State Army Air Corps used it as well as surrounding airports to conduct training for World War II pilots.

The airport was then returned to the City of Merced in 1945 and has continued to operate until today. The existing terminal was built by United Airlines in 1947.

Essential Air Service Provider Advanced Air, currently operates out of the airport, which is owned by the city. The airport offers daily flights to Harry Reid Airport in Las Vegas and Hawthorne Municipal Airport in Los Angeles County.



New development planned in 2024

New year, new construction planned throughout the city of Turlock. From houses to hotels, recreational spots to restaurants, here is a list of some things to expect in 2024.


New homes and apartments are expected to come to Turlock, with several already having been built.

Northeast Turlock has seen the development of new residential neighborhoods, which are being tabbed as the Legends North III, a project spearheaded by JKB Living. The new community will have 65 building sites with there being six different floor plans. There will also be a centralized neighborhood park.

Perhaps the largest residential project expected to be completed in 2024 is the Monte Vista Apartments at 1525 W. Monte Vista Ave., a 348-unit multi-family residential project. It was approved in August of 2021 and construction began this past May. There will be 12 three-story buildings approximately 40 feet in height, with each unit including a patio or balcony area. An exact competition date has not been shared.

Over in west Turlock at the vacant lot on the corner of 1150 Angelus St. and 700 S. Soderquist Rd., an application was approved in August to develop three properties with a total of seven residential units. Each unit will have two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, a living room, and an outdoor patio area. The project was originally intended to be finished in 2022, but delays in the planning process pushed construction and opening to this year.


Two new hotels have been approved and are expected to be finished in 2024.

The first is the Marriott Towneplace at 201 N. Tully Rd., which was approved in Sept. of 2022. It will stand at 61 feet and 6 inches from grade to highest point. With these measurements, it will be the highest hotel in Turlock by 1 foot and 6 inches.

The other is Staybridge Suites at 2931 Sun Valley Ct. The hotel was approved in May and will also receive a 35-foot height limit exception.

Gas stations

Despite the sales of electric vehicles estimated to surpass over 1 million in 2023, according to Wards Intelligence and Cox Automotive, gas stations and accommodating convenience stores will continue to pop up around town.

In October, a Valero gas station and Circle K store opened at 2500 Fulkerth Rd. Joining it will be new stations at 4201 N. Golden State Blvd. and 129 E. Linwood Ave., respectively, though the brand of gas at each site has not been revealed.

In addition, there has been another gas station proposed for 4555 N. Golden State Blvd. A hearing date for this proposal has not been settled on.

Food and drink

Soon to neighbor the Valero gas station and Circle K mart on 2500 Fulkerth Rd. will be a Rally’s fast-food restaurant. The national chain is known for their burgers and fries. The project was originally expected to finish this past summer, and it is unclear why there has been a delay in construction.

There is another nationally known brand breaking ground in Turlock, and it’s one that Turlockers have become all too familiar with — Starbucks. Starbucks opened their 10th overall location and sixth standalone establishment in the city in late 2023 at 3085 N. Tegner Rd. A seventh standalone site, this one at 1100 W. Monte Vista Ave., is expected to open in the first quarter of 2024.

Aside from national chains, a family-owned Mexican restaurant will be built downtown at 309 N. Center St. The name is Nivel, which is Spanish for “Level.” It’s pretty self explanatory as the approved building will be two stories. The applicants hope that the new restaurant can become a hub for live entertainment, such as mariachi bands.


One of the most anticipated projects of the year will be the Columbia Pool on Columbia Avenue near Beech Street

The Columbia Pool was first constructed in 1957 and has undergone only minor repairs since 1990. The pool has been closed since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held at the pool site in early November. The project will cost $9,076,087.28, which takes into account construction, demolition of the old pool, and the purchase of pre-built structures for a concession stand, restrooms and a facilities/storage hut.


West Turlock will see two major industrial projects completed this year.

The first project expected to be finished is the 10,000 square-foot expansion of Valley Milk, LLC’s processing facility at 400 N Washington Rd. The expansion will allow the plant to start producing Anhydrous Milk Fat, which is a concentrated, lactose-free butter with a fat content of 99.8%. It is used for cooking and frying as well as a shortening for shortbread, praline fillings, chocolate, chocolate bars and ice cream. The project is expected to be done early this year.

Nearby at 4407 W. Main St., Massachusetts-based technology company Divert Inc. plans to build a new, 71,000 square-foot state-of-the-art food recovery facility. The facility, which is also expected to open in the first quarter of 2024, liquifies and purifies unsold food and processes it into a clean food slurry. The slurry is then pumped directly into an on-site anaerobic digester, where it is turned into biogas, a mixture of gasses, primarily consisting of methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. The equipment then removes impurities from the biogas and upgrades it into pipeline quality Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) to meet utility company standards.

Divert has come to an interconnection agreement with PG&E. When the project is completed and operational, the processed RNG will enter PG&E’s on-site transmission line, replacing fossil fuel gas with a carbon negative renewable fuel to supply homes and businesses.

Note: Expected completion dates for each project are subject to change.


McKinley Interchange Is Manteca Game Changer

The McKinley Avenue/120 Bypass interchange now under construction is a game changer for Manteca — and Lathrop.

It will:

*Take pressure off the Airport Way corridor.

*Provide more direct and quicker access to more than 3,000 homes under — or approved — for construction in southwest Manteca.

*Significantly improve access to the city’s fledgling family entertainment zone bookended by the 500-room Great Wolf resort and Big League Dreams and as such is expected to spur further development.

*Provides an essential link for an envisioned truck route system that will connect with the French Camp Road interchange on Highway 99 to help keep most future truck traffic out of residential and commercial areas in western Manteca.

*Help open up large parcels in eastern Lathrop for individual development as well as accommodate an approved business park on the northwest quadrant of the interchange that is within Lathrop’s city limits

City Manager Toni Lundgren noted that the pluses that the interchange will create will mean a lot of positive impacts for Manteca as well as Lathrop.

The interchange work is targeted for completion next year.

The project is being funded with $12.3 million in state funds, $7 million in Measure K funds collected from the countywide half cent road and transportation tax, and well as $8 million the city has collected in growth fees for major road endeavors..

DeSilva Gates Construction was awarded the bid of $23,387,387 to build  what will be the last interchange built on the six-mile 120 Bypass.

When completed there will be five interchanges with a mile between each — Yosemite Avenue in Lathrop as well as McKinley Avenue, Airport Way, Union Road and Main Street in Manteca. They are all bookended by the interchange with Interstate 5 on the west and the interchange with Highway 99 on the east.

The work is expected to be done just as ground breaks around mid- to late-2024 for the first phase of the $131.5 million revamp of the 120 Bypass/Highway 99 interchange.

The first phase of the 99/120 project will add a second transition lane to southbound Highway 99 from the 120 Bypass interchange. It also involves tearing down the existing Austin Road interchange on Highway 99 to accommodate additional freeway lanes.

The replacement overpass for Austin Road will be four lanes. It will also span the railroad tracks requiring connecting street work from Austin Road to Atherton Drive as well as a new crossing alignment for Woodward Avenue to reach Moffat Boulevard.

Manteca’s first partial

cloverleaf interchange

The McKinley interchange is designed as the city’s first partial cloverleaf. But in order to save money the city is opting to build the inner ramp loops at a later date.

That means the initial construction will have all left turns from McKinley Avenue to 120 Bypass onramps go through signalized intersections just as they currently do at the Airport, Union, and Main interchanges.

When the loops are completed northbound McKinley Avenue traffic will be able to get onto westbound 120 without going through a traffic signal as would southbound McKinley to eastbound 120.

It will include a separated bike path underneath the 120 Bypass that eventually will connect with the Atherton Drive bike path to provide access to Big League Dreams and the envisioned family entertainment zone.

Ultimately it will be a link in a separated bicycle pathway that loops the city going along McKinley Avenue north to connect with a path that cuts behind Del Webb at Woodbridge that crosses Union Road and ties into the Tidewater Bikeway. The Tidewater then heads south and ties in with the Atherton Drive Bikeway via Industrial Park Drive and Van Ryn Avenue.

The McKinley Avenue interchange is also part of the long-range circulation plan for Manteca south of the 120 Bypass where more than 60 percent of the city’s population is expected to be by 2040.


Fresno EDC, City Council To Explore Enticing Microchip Makers To Town

Fresno City Councilmember Nelson Esparza, in cooperation with Fresno Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Will Oliver, announced plans Tuesday to incentivize businesses to invest and develop semiconductor manufacturing in the city under the federal Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) program.

At a city hall news conference, Esparza and Oliver discussed the Fresno CHIPs Incentive Act, which aims to bring a competitive edge to the city in attracting the semiconductor industry to be part of the growing U.S. supply chain and innovation ecosystem.

Signed into law during the first year of President Biden’s administration, the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 aims to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and supply chains and invest more than $50 billion in research and development to ensure the U.S. continues to lead in nanotechnology, clean energy, quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

Incentives under the local proposal, to be considered by the Fresno City Council at its Thursday meeting, would allow eligible companies to receive tax breaks with the city, with the incentives being determined in part by the number of jobs created.

Joined by Oliver and Esparza were Fresno Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Miller, San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Association CEO Genelle Taylor Kumpe and City Attorney Andrew Janz.

“This legislation will provide us the edge we need to be competitive in this market as the industry begins to grow again here on U.S. soil. Fresno can lead the way in attracting those companies in the semi-conductor supply chain here in the Central Valley,” Esparza said.

He said the local legislation is complementary to the federal CHIPS act, making companies’ federal applications more competitive for securing local incentives.

Esparza said this legislation will be the first local CHIPS incentive act in California that is not tied to a state or federal municipality.

According to the proposal, the city will be looking at companies willing to commit capital investments of $20 million to $300 million and more.

Incentive amounts could range from 30-35% of capital investments.

Esparza said they are attempting to make a semiconductor hub in Fresno, positioning the city as a center for technological advancement and economic growth.

Oliver noted that the Fresno EDC was awarded $23 million dollars form the Good Jobs Challenge grant, meant to be used for recruiting and training the workforce.

He said the city has a unique position from an economic and logistical standpoint, offering a natural competitiveness and a strategic location between the major seaports of the state — as well as an available workforce.

The Fresno CHIPS Act program will not only attract semiconductor manufacturers, but complementary companies such as suppliers and distributors as well.

Every $15 invested for projects by companies will be matched with $1 locally to match the economic diversification and growth, Oliver said.

“We think this is great precedent moving forward to realign incentives to our community, our race to the top, living wages, access to health care and benefits, and access to jobs created by companies that are here to grow our economy and community,” Oliver said.


West Hills College officials host groundbreaking for new Lemoore Visual Arts and Applied Science Building in Lemoore

On Friday morning this week, West Hills College Lemoore officials and guests hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at its campus in Lemoore to celebrate the construction of a new Visual Arts & Applied Sciences (VAAS) Building.

Guests were told that this state-of-the-art, 44,382-square-foot facility will serve as a hub for laboratory classrooms, career technical education programs, and nursing and health careers, addressing the growing demand for high-paying jobs in our community.

The VAAS building will be a cornerstone in the college’s mission to provide students with innovative educational opportunities and practical skills. Modern laboratories will allow students to gain hands-on, high-paying jobs in the community.

College officials say the VAAS building is set to be a cornerstone in the college’s mission to provide students with innovative educational opportunities and practical skills. Modern laboratories will offer students the chance to gain hands-on experience in various fields. At the same time, dedicated spaces for career technical education and health career programs will ensure that the curriculum is aligned with local industry needs, preparing students for in-demand jobs and contributing to the region’s healthcare workforce.

“This new building is another significant step forward in our commitment to delivering high-quality education and training opportunities to our students,” said West Hills College President James Preston in a press release before Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

“The VAAS building will feature an innovative blend of educational programs in the areas of Health Careers, Information Technology, and Visual Arts that will empower our students and community and enhance our capacity to meet local industry demands,” said Preston.

The groundbreaking ceremony signifies the beginning of a new era for the college and represents a substantial investment in the future of education and the economic vitality of the community.


New Visalia industrial warehouse to break ground

Visalia Industrial Park could have a good year in 2024. Fowler-based G-4 Enterprises is moving forward on a planned 310,000 square feet tilt-up warehouse in the industrial park in the new year. The company has filed building plans and should begin construction in January or February, says their broker, Ethan Smith.

The new building is south of Goshen Avenue at 1030 N. Kelsey St. (Road 84). Depending on the weather, Smith estimates, looking for about eight to 10 months of construction time.

Smith said that 2023 was a confusing year for both developers and tenants. They faced supply chain disruptions, high building costs, and interest rates, as well as uncertainty over the direction of the economy.

“We see more development in the Valley in 2024,” Smith said.

Visalia has a leg up when it comes to site selection with a track record of getting deals done on construction, approvals, and both utilities and land in place, he added. Planned industrial projects in Visalia have mostly been on hold in the past year, with only one huge building breaking ground in June, a massive 1.2 million-square-foot building west of Plaza Drive and north of Riggin under construction.

CapRock, developers of two Amazon buildings in Visalia, is developing the spec building. No tenant has been announced. The building could be ready by mid-2024. Seefried Properties is poised to move forward in 2024 on a huge 280-acre project at Riggin, west of Shirk. Seefried built the 400-job Ace Hardware project, now open on Plaza Drive. G-4 also has been stalled in Goshen on a speculative industrial building there. Still, a new agreement to provide sewer service to the community on new projects should also allow this project to move forward.


Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon Breaks Ground

Hard Rock International and the Tejon Indian Tribe celebrated the groundbreaking of the long-awaited hotel and casino located at Hwy. 166 and Sabodan Road West in the community of Mettler, California on Tejon Tribal land. The celebration featured a commemorative shovel groundbreaking with Hard Rock representatives, Tejon Indian Tribe leadership and general membership plus statewide and local community leaders.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon will be more than 700,000 square feet of which 150,000 square feet will be gaming space, featuring 2,500 of the most popular slots, 48 table games, and video poker, and will be the second closest class III casino to Los Angeles.

“This is an exciting day for the state of California, Kern County and the Tejon Indian Tribe,” said Octavio Escobedo, III Chair of the Tejon Indian Tribe. “This groundbreaking is a symbolic ceremony for the Tribe, which was landless for more than 150 years and has been a priority for us since we were reaffirmed as a federally recognized Indian tribe. From the start of our relationship with the United States government in 1851, our Tribe has fought for a homeland for our people. Today we are one major step closer to the dream of self-determination through economic development. The Tribe would like to thank local community support, the support from Kern County government, the entire California State Legislature, our federal delegation in Washington DC, and especially Governor Gavin Newsom. Including all the non-governmental organizations, SSCR LLC, Hard Rock International and the Seminole Tribe of Florida who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us to help make our dream of restoring our land base and this groundbreaking possible.”

The project is expected to create approximately 2,000 construction-specific jobs and will be managed by the Penta Building Group, a southern California Company. Once both phases are completed, the project is expected to create approximately 5,000 direct and indirect jobs, both full-time and part-time.

Multiple dining options, including a signature Hard Rock Cafe and fine dining restaurant Council Oak Steaks and Seafood, a Rock Shop, and much more will be included in phase one. Rounding out the second phase will be a 400-room hotel, additional fine dining, pool, spa, cigar lounge and 2,800-seat Hard Rock Live event venue that will draw attractions like concert performances, comedy acts and sporting events to name a few. In addition, Hard Rock’s signature memorabilia will be on display throughout the property. The anticipated completion date of phase one is expected to be 22 months after the first shovel in the ground. Phase two is expected to be another 20 months and will complete the entire hotel and casino.

“Hard Rock is proud to partner with the Tejon Indian Tribe on creating a world-class entertainment destination,” said Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International. “The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon property will be another incredible offering in our West Coast portfolio, and we are committed to supporting the local community and creating a lasting positive economic impact for the State of California.”