New industrial building planned in north Modesto could employ hundreds of workers
A new development proposes a 300,000-square-foot industrial building that could employ hundreds of people on Kiernan Avenue north of Modesto. The building, designed for light industry, is planned for the southeast corner of Tully Road and Kiernan. It will replace an almond orchard on the 17-acre site. Jackrabbit Equipment Inc., which makes equipment for the tree nut industry, has been discussed as a main tenant for the Kiernan facility. The company would use the building for consolidating Jackrabbit’s operations in Ripon and on Dakota Avenue in Modesto. Chief Executive Officer Bob DeMont said Thursday that 90 employees would work at the new building initially, but the number could grow substantially as the company expands.
The Stanislaus County planning commission considered the project earlier this month and recommended that county supervisors approve it. The project is set for the Board of Supervisors meeting Aug. 17. According to a county staff report, Jackrabbit is expected to use half the facility, or 150,000 square feet. Libitzky Holdings of Emeryville, the applicant and developer, has not identified tenants for the other 150,000 square feet. “We would love to be able to accommodate Jackrabbit,” said Kevin Perkins, an associate principal for Libitzky, a real estate investment firm that owns properties in eight states. “We are building 300,000 square feet of Class A space that should be highly in demand,” Perkins said. “Modesto is in a real growth market and the location lends itself to being a prime industrial and distribution location for the state and western United States.”
Libitzky operates the Modesto Industrial Park, which is next door to the Kiernan and Tully property. The new cross-dock building could be built and completed by the second quarter of 2022, Perkins said. According to the plans, businesses leasing space could operate around the clock, seven days a week, three shifts per day, with up to 250 workers on each shift. That estimate includes other prospective operations in addition to Jackrabbit. County staff said Jackrabbit could occupy a larger portion or the entire building, but that has not been determined. The site is designed with 486 parking spaces; an excess amount of parking was included in the plans for flexibility as business tenants are sought.
Companies using the industrial building are expected to serve about 25 customers daily. The center will generate an estimated 1,488 truck and car trips per day. Libitzky applied to the county for approval because the site is in an unincorporated area outside the city limits. Modesto’s general plan designates the project location for business park development. For significant development projects inside a city’s sphere of influence, the county has a policy of first getting preliminary approval from the respective city. The county may approve the project after the city signs off.
Steve Mitchell, planning manager for Modesto, said the city has been in discussions with the county and supported the application because it’s an expansion of an industrial area. There are too many private properties between the city boundary and the Kiernan site for an annexation, he said. One of the city’s conditions for approval was extension of a line to the property and connection to city water service, but a sewer service connection is not available, Mitchell said. “We are working with the county on a tax-sharing agreement,” he added.