A new $350M casino is breaking ground off Highway 99

The Las Vegas company behind bringing a new Native American casino to Madera County is close to breaking ground, according to a high-ranking official close to the project. The California State Supreme Court cleared the way in September for Las Vegas-based Red Rock Resorts to build North Fork Rancheria’s casino off of Highway 99 near Avenue 18 just north of Madera, less than 40 miles east of the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino and Table Mountain Casino.

The new casino could take about 18 months to finish once crews break ground, which is expected by the end of June, according to Stephen Cootey, chief financial officer for Red Rock. “As of now, the budget for the full completion of this project excluding any financing costs is expected to be between $350 million and $400 million,” Cootey said May 4 in a call with investors. He went on to say the project is expected to cover 213,000 square feet, including 100,000 square feet in casino space, plus 2,000 slots and 40 table games. There will also be two restaurants and a food hall. Officials with the North Fork Rancheria, home to the Mono Indians, said more on the new casino may be available in the coming month or so but declined to discuss it on Monday, according to Charles Altekruse, spokesman for the North Fork Mono.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

The success of new hospitality destinations in an area not already known to draw a large amount of tourists can be hard to predict, according to economist Jeffrey Michael from the University of the Pacific in Stockton. “That’s the tricky thing with a lot of hospitality, drawing new visitors or just diverting dollars from others nearby,” he said. But, Madera County officials are more confident of the long-term success of the new casino that’s taken nearly two decades to clear legal hurdles.

Madera’s casinos do draw tour buses of people from out of the area looking to play slots and table games, Kahn said. He added that the new casino will likely be a hot commodity when it’s first built, but shouldn’t be a long-term damper on other tourist attractions in the area. “I think it will have some affect, naturally,” he said. “I think in the long-run it will all level out.” The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians is a federally recognized Native American nation with more than 2,200 tribal citizens and government offices in Madera County.

https://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article251299623.html

This global company is bringing a new dessert shop to Clovis

Beard Papa’s, an international dessert shop specializing in cream puffs, plans to open its first shop in Clovis. The shop is expected to open in late summer, according to the company.

Founded in Japan, the company is keeping mum on where it will be, but real estate firm Retail California reported to The Bee’s leases section that the company has leased a spot in The Trading Post shopping center at the southeast corner of Herndon and Clovis avenues. Beard Papa’s is slated to take over the empty space next to Baskin Robbins. The shop sells cream puffs – a light French pastry filled with custard in various flavors. “All of our puffs are this golden flaky shell on the outside, with a soft, airy custard on the inside that is so amazing,” said Tucker Kaufman, head of marketing and social media.

The shop offers several types of shells of puffs, the tops dipped in the customer’s choice of glaze, like chocolate, strawberry or an Oreo topping. Customers also pick which filling they want from the menu – vanilla, chocolate or green tea custard. In addition to the standard menu flavors, Beard Papa’s also has monthly flavors like a churro cream puff with horchata filling, or a boba puff with the little round balls from boba tea inside the custard.

The cream puffs sell for around $3.40 each. A little smaller than the average person’s fist, the puffs are larger than the ones typically made by home cooks or sold in local bakeries, Kaufman said.

BEARD PAPA’S

Beard Papa’s got its name from Yuji Hirota, who opened a bakery in 1999 in Osaka. His fluffy white beard was so noticeable that he became known as “beard papa” to his customers. The company has more than 400 locations worldwide and is expanding in the United States. It has shops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and several other large cities. Beard Papa’s has a few other desserts on the menu, including mini cheesecakes, and drinks. But its specialty is the cream puffs. “We have this amazing cult following,” Kaufman said. “People who know us, they love us.”

The company joins others opening in the Fresno area that specialize in one dessert, like the new locations of Crumbl Cookies, Nothing Bundt Cakes and Crave Cookie, which opened its first shop with a drive-thru recently. Said Kaufman from Beard Papa’s: “It’s such a niche dessert, but we are a luxury dessert destination. It’s not like doughnuts where you find them on every street corner.”

https://www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/bethany-clough/article251237549.html

NEW EAGLE MOUNTAIN CASINO BUILD KICKS OFF IN PORTERVILLE

Nearly 200 people were in attendance earlier this month for the groundbreaking of the new Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville. The casino, currently located on the Tule River Reservation in the foothills, will be moving 20 miles down the mountain near the Porterville Airport. Located on 40 acres at 2760 W. Yowlumne Ave., the new casino will have 1,750 slot machines, table games, a 2,000-seat event center and a few restaurants on 100,000 square-foot property.

An artist’s rendering show the interior and exterior of the new Eagle Mountain Casino being built in Porterville.  “When we put those shovels in the ground, my heart goes out thanking you who put in the long hours, those of you walked the halls in DC and the State Capitol, those that moved machines all night long, those that worked double shifts because it was so busy and you didn’t want to leave your teammates hanging there—I thank you on behalf of the tribe, tribal members, descendants, and everyone whose been benefiting,” said William Garfield, Tule River Tribe chairman.

National hospitality design firm HGB designed the casino and W.E. O’Neil was selected to do the construction. W.E. O’Neill has offices all over the Western U.S. The casino will integrate local key elements of the tribal land and the tribe’s relationship with it. It will feature a lodge aesthetic with wood and stone structural expressions, according to a news release. “Since we began the planning and design process, the ownership team has always been extremely open and professional in sharing their project vision and goals, inviting our team to become partners in their development journey,” said Joe Baruffaldi, principal at HBG Design. “They have immersed the design team in tribal culture and heritage and graciously embraced our conceptual storytelling as it extends into the architectural and interior design aesthetic.”

The new Eagle Mountain Casino is expected to open in December 2022. The casino project is expected to create approximately 400 construction jobs and 300 or more full-time and part-time casino operation jobs. “Moving forward, this is about our people and our neighbors working together to make a project that is going to benefit us all. Providing additional law enforcement, fire protection and EMS services and ensure everyone is kept safe and enjoyable time,” said Tribal Chairman Neil Peyron.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/new-eagle-mountain-casino-build-kicks-off-in-porterville/

T-MOBILE INKS LEASE IN KINGSBURG FOR 1,000-EMPLOYEE CENTER

After some three years of negotiations, phone giant T- Mobile has inked a lease of the former K-Mart building in Kingsburg, according to real estate sources. The property is owned by State Foods grocery chain owner Mike Alamsi, who was unavailable for comment. San Francisco-based Swinerton Builders has received a permit to begin demolition in the interior of the sprawling K-mart building that will house the new T-Mobile call center. The demolition permit alone is $1 million. The same big builder will be doing the tenant improvements that will follow. The vacant 105,000 square-foot building is at 333 Sierra St.

A demolition permit was issued Jan. 26 for the major project that is expected to bring hundreds of new jobs to the area in early 2022, says Kingsburg Economic Development Coordinator Jolene Polyack. The center is expected to employ around 1,000 when in full operation.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/t-mobile-inks-lease-in-kingsburg-for-1000-employee-center/?mc_cid=a97a003870&mc_eid=6fb731bbc6

 

Dave’s Hot Chicken Signs Deal to Open 20 Stores in Central California

Dave’s Hot Chicken announced today it has inked a franchise agreement with DAMM Fine Chicken to open 20 locations throughout Central California.  “During this exciting period of growth, we want to partner with experienced and qualified franchise partners to help accelerate our momentum. The DAMM Fine Chicken team fits that bill perfectly,” says Bill Phelps, CEO of Dave’s Hot Chicken. “Their experience will be crucial as Dave’s Hot Chicken continues its expansion throughout California.”  “Dave’s Hot Chicken instantly stood out to us from the other chicken concepts that are out there,” says Martha Olmos, the Chief Operating Officer for DAMM Fine Chicken. “They have a great innovative product that people love and continue to crave long after they first tried it. Our team is looking forward to the future with Dave’s Hot Chicken.”

The DAMM Fine Chicken team brings with them over 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry to Dave’s Hot Chicken. The operators were formerly owners of several Taco Bell locations, and currently own over 20 Blaze Pizza restaurants. The team will focus on adding Dave’s Hot Chicken locations throughout the Central Valley, Central Coast and Sacramento areas of California. The DAMM Fine Chicken team believes strongly in becoming part of the fabric of the community and plan on supporting local non-profits in their communities.

Founded by classically-trained chef Dave Kopushyan and three friends in early 2017, Dave’s Hot Chicken initially opened as a parking lot pop-up, with lines quickly wrapping around the block. Since then, the brand has exploded in popularity and now has multiple brick-and-mortar locations open in Southern California. Today, the fast-casual brand has its sights set on growing throughout the United States through franchising and has several multi-unit agreements in development.  Specializing in hot chicken tenders and sliders, with spice levels ranging from “No Spice” to “Reaper,” each restaurant also serves sides of house-made Kale Slaw, creamy Mac & Cheese and crispy Fries or Cheese Fries.

https://www.qsrmagazine.com/news/daves-hot-chicken-signs-deal-open-20-stores-central-california#:~:text=The%20DAMM%20Fine%20Chicken%20team%20will%20focus%20on,Chicken%20to%20open%2020%20locations%20throughout%20Central%20California.

Tractor Supply Company is Coming to the City of Merced Soon

The city of Merced announced today that Tractor Supply Company is coming soon. The new business will be opening at the Gateway Marketplace located at Emission Avenue and near the new Arco Station. According to the developers, the store will be Tractor Supply’s new formats and the largest in the market area.

http://www.mercedgwnews.com/tractor-supply-company-is-coming-to-the-city-of-merced-soon-this-is-what-the-city-said/

Merced irrigation firm opens Tulare storefront

A Merced-based farm irrigation system retailer has made its first foray into the South Valley with a new Tulare storefront. Central Irrigation specializes in agricultural irrigation system design and installation, ranging from full ranch development to simple maintenance. The new Tulare store joins existing retail locations in Merced and Chowchilla.

https://www.newsbreak.com/california/merced/news/1524317962564/merced-irrigation-firm-opens-tulare-storefront

FRESNO COUNTY ECON FORECAST: BRICK-AND-MORTAR TRANSITIONING, BUT HERE TO STAY

Fresno County businesses, farmers and retailers have weathered a tornado of unpredictable events in 2020. But in 2021, commercial and residential real estate are expected to thrive. Ethan Smith, a broker at Newmark Pearson Commercial in Fresno, specializes in industrial real estate. He says that Fresno’s commercial real estate market is growing. “Industrial has continued to be incredibly active since we sort of shifted gears due to the pandemic,” Smith said.  He said demand continues to outpace supply, but it can take a while for pricing to catch up to market changes.

Spring brought concern about the economy, but conditions are not looking nearly as poor as experts first thought. “As things have settled down, we haven’t seen the doom and gloom predictions that people have thought,” Smith said.  Industrial firms were deemed essential from the start, which might have helped, and will continue to help in 2021. “Small businesses locally tend to be pretty resilient; we actually still see demand because businesses are growing,” he said.

Some businesses need to lease more space. However, growth can be tough between businesses and banks. “Banks are being more judicious with their lending. However, we’re not seeing the same things during the financial crisis where liquidity just went away,” he said. Low interest rates means cash is cheap at the moment.

The housing market is also booming, and will continue to stay that way in the near future. But Smith and Danyelle Conner, real estate agent at London Properties in Fresno, said it’s because inventory is low. Thus, prices continue to climb. “The market right now continues to be pretty hot,” Conner said. Traditionally November slows down because people like to decorate their homes for the holidays, Conner says. “But as par for the course this year, nothing has been traditional with Covid, and we’re not really seeing a slowdown like we typically would expect right now,” Conner said. “Buyers are also willing to pay the prices sellers are asking, but I have had a few issues with appraisals lately,” Conner said. “Buyers are willing to pay it, but appraisers are not willing to give it the value.” This has potential to make buyers want to come down on the price if appraisers think it’s too high.

Office space has not died off as first predicted. Projects are still under construction because people want to work in a collaborative, in-person setting. Small and medium sized businesses rely on the office because of the lack of accommodation for sophisticated information systems available working from home. “The obituaries that were written about the offices were incredibly premature. And there’s no obituary,” Smith said.  Many office workers have been negatively affected by school closures, as was the agriculture industry, which delivers mass amounts of fruit, vegetables and milk to grade schools. Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of Fresno County Farm Bureau, says that Covid will continue to play a role in the 2021 agriculture forecast. “Overall, the commodities definitely are lower than what we’ve seen in the past decade, and a lot of that is attributed to the softer foreign markets for some of the products that are more heavily demanded worldwide,” Jacobsen said. This will play a role in foreign trade in the Covid era looking into 2021. “Central Valley agriculture is very dependent upon foreign trade, and so our hope is that the worldwide economy still demands California produce,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen hopes the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal will pay dividends in 2021. Aside from Covid-related differences, water runoff was below average year, so the agriculture industry hopes to have a better water year in 2021 because it means more crops in the ground. In 2021, retail giants like Amazon, Target, and Walmart could change the small business front. “The retail industry already was changing. The pandemic — people staying home — has only accelerated what was already happening,” Smith said. There is a shift as retailers occupy more warehouse space and use their own delivery infrastructure to accommodate consumers quicker, which could spur industrial construction. “The expectation on the customer’s end is not waiting five to seven days for delivery anymore,” Smith said.

The outlook for restaurants is certainly not bright, especially as Fresno County reenters the most restrictive purple tier on the state’s lockdown list. This week, Fresno Mayor-elect Jerry Dyer said on a panel discussion with California mayors that 30-40% of restaurants in Fresno will never open again, reported gvwire.com. Smith says we will continue to see the weeding out of businesses who can’t survive the temporary 30-40% decrease in sales until the economy levels out, which may occur in summer 2021. But online retailers born during the pandemic also see the value of operating a brick-and-mortar.  Nicole Zieba, Reedley city manager, and Alex Henderson, Kingsburg city manager, both remain optimistic about 2021. Reedley has a 90-day operating fund reserve for 2021. And both Kingsburg and Reedley cities show rapid commercial and residential development.  For instance, Reedley has been targeting advanced food manufacturing to reported success.

Then there is the incoming T-Mobile call center in Kingsburg, which Henderson says will bring 1,000 jobs to the city. The 100,000 square foot customer experience center is slated for early 2021, after being on hold for the past year.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/fresno-county-econ-forecast-brick-and-mortar-transitioning-but-here-to-stay/

Tejon Ranch plays unique role in extraordinary times

If you have been in Kern County for any length of time you undoubtedly know about the magnificent ranch that encompasses 270,000 acres just south of Bakersfield and contains one of the most diverse intersections of nature, commerce, energy, housing and agriculture in the western United States. That diversity has contributed to the company’s resilience during these turbulent times. But what impact has this had on the economic future of Kern County, its small businesses and thousands of individual jobs?

Let’s take two of our company’s signature developments: the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center and its denizen Outlets at Tejon. The direct jobs alone are responsible for the employment of anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 individuals. The importance of a job cannot be overstated, particularly during a crisis, and the multiplier effect of each dollar earned — particularly those dollars spent by consumers from outside our area — coursing through our economy is critical to our county’s success. But even “essential” industries such as ours must put the safety and well-being of our employees and customers first – and we have found this to be abundantly achievable without sacrificing the jobs and economic vitality our county needs.

The Outlets at Tejon, for example, put in place a rigorous cleaning and sanitizing process as well as signage reminding everyone of suggested COVID-19 safety precautions such as social distancing and mask wearing. Although some attractions such as the food court, Camp Tejon and all kiddie rides had to remain temporarily closed, we were able to direct visitors to the numerous food options at the same exit in the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center including In-N-Out Burger, Chipotle, Starbucks, Pieology and Habit Burger, as well as recently opened operations like Dunkin Donuts, Jamba Juice and Charley’s Philly Cheesesteaks near the entrance to the outlets.

The ability to maintain much of this employment is made possible by you, the customers, who shop at Tejon’s outdoor retail offerings, as well as the many drive-thru restaurants where the sales taxes alone total nearly $10 million annually. Property, fuel and other taxes paid by the company as well as its partners and third-party owners are in the millions of additional dollars and all these tax revenues support much-needed public benefits including our roads, schools and public safety operations.

We are incredibly fortunate that the majority of the businesses in our center have managed to continue operations thanks to their essential nature, excellent safety procedures and an outdoor or drive-thru window capacity. The pandemic experience has challenged us all to reach a little bit higher, dig a little deeper and embrace the things that matter most. We have always taken pride in our role as a gateway from southern California to our beautiful community. That responsibility has motivated us to set the bar high in terms of quality, aesthetics and operations, as a standard bearer for the proud and resilient people of Kern County. The ongoing ability to provide jobs, fuel, food and supplies is one that we take seriously, while we look forward to a vibrant future for everyone in California.

https://www.bakersfield.com/kern-business-journal/tejon-ranch-plays-unique-role-in-extraordinary-times/article_d83f340c-f485-11ea-b82c-f3fa3ae2febc.html

Retail construction continues locally despite pandemic

Judging only by construction of new retail buildings around Bakersfield, it would be easy to conclude the pandemic has hardly disrupted the local economy. That’s not the case, of course, with unemployment hovering at about 13 percent in August. But in recent months whole new shopping centers have sprung up at the intersections of Stockdale Highway and Buena Vista Road, and at Panama Lane and Ashe Road.

Meanwhile, construction of additional retail projects has begun at Snow Road and Calloway Drive. Also, work is scheduled to begin soon on a similar project at Panama Lane and Gosford Road. There’s no question these projects predate COVID-19’s arrival and originated under better economic circumstances. In that sense, observers say, they are left over from a time when investor confidence was stronger than it is now. But it’s also a good sign — and a benefit to local employment — that these developments are proceeding despite the economic slowdown and generally challenging times for the retail industry.

Bakersfield commercial real estate broker Scott Underhill said March and April were tough but that since then business has picked up. Rents have come down, he noted, as tenants and landlords have worked together out of shared necessity. “We’ve adjusted and moved forward,” he said.

The pain in local retail has not been distributed evenly. Broker Vince Roche said some stores are suffering, as are family entertainment centers. But drive-thrus, grocery stores and home-improvement retailers, he said, are doing quite well. Roche said he takes hope in a recent surge in demand from people moving to Bakersfield from other areas where homes are more expensive. Eventually that should lead to more homes and, after that, additional stores to serve new neighborhoods. He cautioned that COVID-19 has clouded an already uncertain future for retail. Society remains “in the storm,” he said, and it’s hard to tell where the economy will end up after the pandemic subsides. Developers may have reason to pause, he said, but not necessarily good cause to halt. “It (the virus) has created just another layer of risk that has to be assessed and really evaluated on a project-by-project basis,” he said.

One byproduct is that construction labor is now hard to come by, said Joe Jannino, an estimator at general contractor SC Anderson Inc. “There’s plenty of work going on right now,” he said, adding that SC Anderson has kept busy lately largely because of school construction and other publicly funded building projects.

The project that began recently at Snow and Calloway will feature an Arco filling station with a convenience store and carwash, Underhill said. There will also be a fast-foot restaurant and a 20,000-square-foot store whose tenant has not been identified.

At Stockdale and Buena Vista, he said, a Panda Express will open this week. Other tenants there will include a Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, a Little Caesars Pizza, a Del Taco and a nail salon, along with other tenants still negotiating leases. The shopping center being completed at Panama and Ashe will have a Planet Fitness gym, a 7-Eleven, a Habit Burger Grill, a Raising Cane’s, a Mexican-style restaurant and other tenants, Underhill said. He said at Panama and Gosford there will be an Arco, two fast-food restaurants and a 20,000-square-foot store.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/retail-construction-continues-locally-despite-pandemic/article_749a316e-ff83-11ea-ba2f-b700fc93ff6d.html