What’s happening with Modesto, Turlock’s empty OSH, Toys R Us sites? A lot, actually

 

The empty Orchard Supply Hardware, Toys R Us and Babies R Us sites in Modesto and Turlock, CA all have been sold or leased. OSH sites on Oakdale Road in Modesto and Turlock will become Ace Hardwares. 

Those big empty Orchard Supply Hardware, Toys R Us and Babies R Us buildings dotting Stanislaus County might not be empty much longer.

In April it was announced the owners of Strand Ace Hardware in Escalon were going to take over the former OSH site on Oakdale Road. Work continues on that site, with a planned opening at the end of June. Now another new Ace Hardware is slated to take over the former OSH site on Geer Road in Turlock. A banner went up on the building last month with a planned late summer opening.

Modesto’s second former Orchard site, on Sisk Road, was sold earlier this year to Mad Monk Holdings, LLC, whose Berkeley-based owner also operates Rasputin Music & Movies. The next-door Toys R Us building was sold as well earlier this year, to the Miami-based commercial real estate investment firm Corbin Holdings.

A little further north on Sisk Road, the former Babies R Us site remains vacant, but plans are still moving forward for Rasputin Music & Movies, which currently has a shop on Dale Road, to relocate to the space. The new store will be a combined Rasputin and an Anastasia New & Vintage Clothingstore, both associated with Mad Monk Holdings, LLC.

Strand Ace Vice President Dirk Swanson, whose family has run the Escalon hardware store since 1975, said they hope to open in about three weeks, with a grand opening celebration planned for the last week of June. Staff has been working at the site daily — rearranging, organizing and stocking inventory. The 44,000-square-foot building is a significant step up from the company’s existing 28,000-square-foot store, which will remain open when the new one debuts.

AA Strand Ace Hardware 03.JPG
Strand Ace Hardware owner Dirk Swanson works inside the new hardware store in the former Orchard Supply on Oakdale Road in Modesto, Calif., Saturday, June 1, 2019. Andy Alfaro AALFARO@MODBEE.COM

Swanson said the company has been hiring the 50 to 60 positions needed to staff the new store. There are still a number of positions available and job-seekers should go to the Strand Ace websiteto apply. They’ve already hired a handful of former OSH employees for the new Modesto store as well.

In Turlock, the OSH on Geer Road near California State University, Stanislaus, closed last year when the largely West Coast brand was dissolved by its parent company, Lowe’s. In all, five Orchard Supply stores in the region were shuttered: two in Modesto and one each in Turlock, Manteca and Sonora.

The space, in the same complex as a Michael’s and Big Lots, has been stripped down to the studs inside. A spokesman for Mentzer PR Group, which is representing Ace Hardware, said a soft opening is planned for late summer. The new store will be owned and operated by a a subsidiary of Ace Hardware Corporation.

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The former site of Orchard Supply Hardware on Geer Road in Turlock, Calif. The building is being converted into an Ace Hardware. Marijke Rowland MROWLAND@MODBEE.COM

The Illinois-based hardware company has more than 5,200 hardware stores in about 70 countries. Ace stores have been filling empty Orchard Supply buildings up and down California, including recent stores in Fresno and Thousand Oaks.

The other former OSH building in Modesto on Sisk Road remains empty and boarded up. According to county property records, the building was purchased by Mad Monk Holdings in February. The holding company is run by Berkeley entrepreneur Ken Sarachan, who operates the new and used music/movies chain Rasputin and new and used clothing store Anastasia. He also owns several buildings along Berkeley’s famed Telegraph Avenue.

Sarachan purchased both the old Babies R Us space and OSH store on Sisk Road this year. In February it was announced that the Modesto Rasputin store, which has been located two doors down from Trader Joe’s on Dale Road since it opened 2014, would move to the empty Babies R Us site. The new space will be a merged Rasputin and Anastasia store. At the time representatives had hoped to make the move this spring, but the company has gone through restructuring since. Rasputin stores in Stockton, Fairfield and Newark have closed.

MR Ace Sisk.JPG
The former site of Orchard Supply Hardware on Sisk Road in Modesto, Calif. Marijke Rowland MROWLAND@MODBEE.COM

Modesto store manager Ryan Hewitt said while the move to the new space is still planned, there is no set date yet. He said staff have been clearing out the old Babies R Us store, which was owned by now-defunct parent company Toys R Us, and still had fixtures and other furniture inside. They plan to hire more employees to staff the new site, and are looking for clothing buyers in particular. Interested parties should email hiring@rasputinmusic.com.

Hewitt said the company has not announced what it plans to do with the Sisk Road Orchard Supply site yet. But for the time being, it has been used to store items from the closed Rasputin locations and other sites.

Next door to the old Orchard Supply on Sisk Road, the Toys R Us building also remains vacant. But it too was purchased earlier this year by an outside buyer.

Corbin Holdings picked up the property in late December 2018. The privately held Miami real estate investment firm has purchased a string of old Toys R Us/Babies R Us buildings in California, Iowa, Connecticut, Virginia, Florida and Louisiana. The company website touts the purchase of the approximately 46,000 square-foot building in Modesto just of Highway 99 for its high-traffic location between Vintage Faire Mall and the nearby Walmart and Kohl’s stores.

https://www.modbee.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/biz-beat/article231051258.html

Bitwise 41 in Downtown Fresno taking shape

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Bitwise 41 in Downtown Fresno is taking shape. Offices are getting closer and closer to completion in the building formerly known as the Old Spaghetti Factory.

“We are inside, so the glass is in, lights are up, doors are on, windows are set and you can tell it is starting to look like a finished building which is super exciting,” said Channelle Charest with Bitwise.

The new building is adding to Bitwise Industries growing footprint in Fresno. They have four campuses total and two of them are currently under construction including Bitwise 41 on Ventura and R street. It’s located just steps away from the Hive and State Center Warehouse.

“Accessibility is key, anyone can get here, it is super easy to see right off the freeway and it is a historical building in Fresno,” said Charest.

Business FresYes reality has already announced they’re moving in along with 150 agents, they’re taking up the entire second floor. They’re not the only ones, Express Employment Professionals is also calling the building home and, More tenants are on the way. Bitwise is staying tight-lipped but is dropping some hints.

“It will be a mix of our base tech tenants which is great,” she said. “They will be focusing on education and also expanding our startup community in Fresno as well.”

In addition, they’ll also have others moving in that will support their current occupant base. Bitwise 41 is scheduled to open August 1st of this year.

Prism Logistics adds another Central Valley warehouse

 

CVBT 5/22/19

  • It is its fourth Stockton facility
  • Now operates 1,600,000 square feet

Following closely on its announcement of a third facility in Stockton, Prism Logistics of Danville says Thursday that it has opened a fourth facility in the inland port city.

“The lower cost of real estate in California’s Central Valley is particularly attractive for our growing consumer product goods customers. And we’re happy to invest in controlled, steady growth to support their success,” says Jeremy Van Puffelen, vice president of business development for Prism Logistics.

This acquisition brings the Northern California third-party logistics provider’s total capacity to 1.6 million square feet of food-grade, safety-certified warehouse capacity. Prism operates eight facilities throughout Northern California and convenient to port, rail and highways serving the entire major metropolitan region and international gateway.

The company’s facilities are in Hayward, Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and Livermore.

Prism did not identify the seller or the financial terms of the deal.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/e36c8322-3f05-4d58-9ac8-b9a1027da26d.pdf

Two new restaurants are offering Fresno favorites tri-tip and Armenian food in downtown

Two new restaurants fill Kern Street vacancies

BoxCar Cafe serving sandwiches and tri-tip for lunch and breakfast, opened in the spot vacated by CHARburger on the corner of Kern and L, while GG’s Food Factory will serve Mediterranean and Armenian food, next door at 2139 Kern St.

First came the tri-tip sandwiches. Soon, you’ll be able to get an Armenian favorite: a bread boat filled with a warm cheese and egg mixture.

These items are on the menu at two new restaurants opening on the same corner in downtown Fresno. Both are at the northwest corner of Kern and L streets, part of the Hotel Virginia building.

The first, BoxCar Cafe, opened about a month ago, shortly after its predecessor, CHARburger closed in late March. Keep reading for more about BoxCar.

MEDITERRANEAN FOOD

The newbie restaurant next door is GG’s Food Factory. It opens at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 9 at 2139 Kern St. It’s in the space that Tree of Life left behind when it moved north to 6640 N. Blackstone Ave.

The food here is Mediterranean, with some Armenian favorites and options for people who just want a hamburger or pizza.

That eggy, cheesy concoction? It’s called adjaruli khachapuri, though you can just say egg boat if that’s easier. It’s technically from Georgia (the country next door to Armenia), but is a common dish in Armenia, said Tigran Hovhannisyan, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Ripsime Oganyan.

He recommends tearing off a bit of that dough and dipping it in the warm gooey mixture.

Also on the menu: Plates of barbecued meat like pork ribs, cubes of lamb and chicken lula kabob served with rice pilaf. You can also get a hamburger and a lamb burger, salads and pizza.

A few other dishes on GG’s menu that you won’t find at many other Fresno restaurants? Lahmajoon (an Armenian flatbread smothered in ground beef) and potato pie (technically called piroshki). It looks like a roll, but it’s stuffed with herbed mashed potatoes and then deep fried for a crunchy bite.

If the name GG’s Food Factory sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen the big red food truck of the same name around town. The same couple runs it and many of the dishes sold on the truck will be available at the restaurant.

They’re putting aside the truck for a while to focus on running the restaurant.

“That’s my dream,” Hovhannisyan said. “I’ve been cooking for a long time.”

He owned a restaurant in Armenia before coming to Fresno in 2000. After starting the food truck, customers started asking for something more.

“They keep asking about a restaurant, because they want a sit-down restaurant,” he said.

For the next month or so, GG’s will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

For downtown diners looking for dinnertime options, don’t fret yet. The couple hopes to get there eventually and be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and for lunch and dinner on Saturdays and Sundays.

But they’re also expecting a baby in about a month and between that and opening a new restaurant, they decided to start small and ramp up.

QUICK LUNCH

The BoxCar Cafe at 901 L St. is a quick place to grab lunch. It opened about a month ago.

Its lunch menu has just six options: A cheeseburger, veggie burger, tri-tip sandwich, grilled chicken club, a “ham stack” sandwich and a sourdough Joe made with bacon, Swiss and American cheese with grilled onions on sourdough bread.

It also serves breakfast quesadillas and breakfast sandwiches, though people are still discovering that it’s open for breakfast, said owner Donna Willis.

The restaurant doesn’t have a prominent sign yet, but look for the restaurant that’s right on the corner of Kern and L streets. It is open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, with breakfast items served until 10:30 a.m.

If the restaurant name BoxCar sounds familiar, it’s probably because you remember the little cafe painted to look like a boxcar on Hamilton Avenue. Most recently it was called Keith’s BoxCar Cafe & Barbecue, though it closed years ago.

Willis opened the first BoxCar on Hamilton before it went through a succession of owners.

https://www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/bethany-clough/article230092179.html

Find a job at Turlock’s Ten Pin Fun Center as staffing begins for spring opening

 

NEW STATE GROUP TO PROMOTE OPPORTUNITY ZONES

image via caloz.org

image via caloz.org

Published On March 25, 2019 – 11:58 AM
Written By The Business Journal Staff

A new California organization has been formed to help investors and developers take advantage of federal Opportunity Zones.

CalOZ “will promote competitive, equitable and sustainable Opportunity Zone investments in California,” according to a release from the organization.

“Our state must embrace new strategies to rebuild an upward economy that works for all Californians,” said Kunal Merchant, president and Co-Founder of CalOZ. “Opportunity zones offer an important new tool, not only to promote economic mobility and the green economy in areas of our state that need it most, but also to re-evaluate and re-imagine how business, government, and community work together to foster a more competitive, equitable and sustainable economy in California.”

In President Donald Trump’s 2016 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, he outlined what was labeled Opportunity Zones, which offered tax breaks on capital gains for investments in distressed areas.

In Fresno, a number of the areas were established, including the Kings Canyon and Blackstone avenue corridors.

On average, Opportunity Zones have a poverty rate of nearly 31 percent with families making 59 percent of the median income for the area, according to the release, citing information from Economic Innovation Group.

“Opportunity zones offer an intriguing new pathway for our state to expand our middle class and restore the California Dream for all residents,” said Ashley Swearengin, Central Valley Community Foundation’s CEO and former Mayor of Fresno. “I’m thrilled to see CalOZ showing leadership on this issue and excited to support their work both in the Central Valley and state as a whole.”

CalOZ’s first priority will be coordinating with the state to create “high-impact” policies in addition to the ones being offered by the federal government. The plan is to create a “triple-bottom line mindset” for social, environmental and financial opportunities, according to the release.

“With more than three million Californians residing in opportunity zones, California can and must seize the chance to deploy an unprecedented source of private capital into the communities that need it most, “ said Jim Mayer, President and CEO of California Forward. “We’re proud to partner with CalOZ to support state and local action to ensure California emerges as a national leader in this program.”

The U.S. Department of the Treasury certified more than 8,700 qualified areas throughout the country. Of those, California has around 10 percent within its boundaries. And Fresno County is ranked third in terms of having the largest designated Opportunity Zones, according to Merchant.

Those designations will last through the end of 2028.

New state group to promote Opportunity Zones

New Turlock retail development, and Dutch Bros Coffee, proposed next to Stan State

Land for a new commercial retail plaza called Warrior Crossing is pictured on Wednesday March 20, 2019 in Turlock, Calif. The area will feature two commercial buildings, one which will have the area’s first and only Dutch Bros. Coffee shop.
Land for a new commercial retail plaza called Warrior Crossing is pictured on Wednesday March 20, 2019 in Turlock, Calif. The area will feature two commercial buildings, one which will have the area’s first and only Dutch Bros. Coffee shop. JOAN BARNETT LEE JLEE@MODBEE.COM

2018: A GOOD YEAR FOR NEW RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT

A construction crew works on the roof of one of the buildings making up the Californian Apartments under construction in the 5400 block of North Salinas Avenue in northwest Fresno. Photo by David Castellon.

Published On March 18, 2019 – 10:54 AM
Written By 

Back in 2010, as the Valley and the rest of the nation were in the midst of the Great Recession, Mike Miller looked at how badly the crisis had hurt new home construction and worried whether business would survive.

“I’m looking into the future, going, ‘I’m not sure if we’re going to be around in Central California more than another year,’” recalled Miller, vice president of the Central Valley Division of Lennar Homes of California, Inc., which builds new homes from Merced to Bakersfield.

What he didn’t know at the time was the recession was winding down.

By 2011, the economy had picked up enough that Lennar Homes became the top single-family home builder in the Valley. based on permits drawn that year and the estimated combined values of those projects, based on data collected by ConstructionMonitor.com.

And the improvements continued for both the Valley’s economy and Lennar, which for each year after 2011 continued being the Valley’s top single-family homebuilder, drawing 695 construction permits in 2018 valued at more than $188.13 million.

“2018, it was a very good year for us,” though it didn’t match up to new home construction activity during the housing booms before the recession, in the early to mid 2000s, Miller said.

Still, he said of last year, “this was one of the better years since the recession.”

And 2018 wasn’t just a good year for building single-family homes in the Valley.

New construction activity also was strong for multi-family homes and commercial properties, said B. J. Perch, vice president of B. J. Perch Construction, Inc., the Visalia-based builder that bears his father’s name.

“I would say we’ve been on an upward trend, so we’ve been progressively increasing our volume and growing, so it was a good year,” said Perch, whose company ranked first last year in combined permit values for multi-family homes, more than $14.15 million, and second for commercial permits, valued at $20.82 million.

Harris Construction, based in Fresno, was the top commercial builder in the Valley last year, with permits valued at more than $34.73 million. Officials for Harris didn’t respond to an interview request.

“We’re mainly a commercial contractor, so we build health care facilities, corporate offices, industrial [buildings], retail and multi-family,” along with senior living facilities, Perch said.

“We had a significant increase in multi-family. I just think the demand out there [has grown].” Perch noted that his company alone is working on or planning to start work this year on apartment complexes with 700 combined units in Visalia, Tulare and Fresno.

“The demand is there. In

Fresno, there is a lot of multi-family going on, and I think there has been for awhile,” a shift from just a couple of years ago when new single-family home construction dominated the market, he added.

“2018 was one of the busier years we have had for multi-family homes,” he said, adding that he knows of cities in the Valley looking to amend zoning rules to allow more high-density housing and are working with developers to attract such projects.

One fallacy about the local housing market appears to be that the housing demand here is being significantly elevated by an exodus of people from the Bay Area coming here for the cheaper housing.

While it’s true housing in the Valley is cheaper, Miller said the influx here of Bay Area people is small, because it’s too difficult to commute there from here, and it’s still rare to encounter telecommuters looking to buy homes here.

“We have seen that willingness to travel or drive further in our Merced area, but our Central Valley is still mostly operating on people who live here and are continuing to live here, so we aren’t seeing that huge influx from outsiders.”

As good as 2018 was for new construction, it did have its challenges, with both Perch and Miller noting the growing difficulty in hiring skilled construction workers.

“And what happened is when the market crashed, a lot of people left the [construction] industry, and when the market came back, they never came back,” instead going to manufacturing jobs and other fields, Miller said. “Where construction seemed to be a place to go, it seemed to be a place to flee away from.”

In fact, Miler said that the agricultural industry also is facing worker shortages and in response has raised wages to the point that for the first time Valley ag jobs are drawing people away from construction jobs.

That leads to the other big challenge: higher wages for construction workers combined with increasing costs driving up prices for new homes.

In fact, that’s why California becoming the first state to require solar panels in all new homes sold starting Jan. 1 of next year is a major concern among developers.

Miller said he’s unclear how many solar panels will be required on homes as well as whether homebuyers would have to buy the solar panels with their new homes or if buying a house and leasing the panels — or some similar system — will be permitted.

At least here in the Valley, Lennar includes solar with each of its new homes, but if buyers don’t want to buy the systems, the developer has an alternative allowing the systems to be owned by the solar company, with the homeowners buying the power they generate at a discounted rate.

Losing such options could hurt new home development, Miller said, “especially [for] first-time and first-move-up homebuyers, because there is going to be another $15,000-$20,000 worth of cost immediately added to the cost of the home,” and some of them may not be able to afford it or be able to get loans covering the added costs.

“The whole industry is trying to understand the effect it’s going to have on all of us.”