$100M Scannell Warehouse Project Seeks Local Contractors

With the Fresno City Council’s final approval Feb. 22 of the $100 million, 900,000 square-foot foot warehouse development by Scannell Properties, it’s time to start learning about bid opportunities.

The Fresno County Economic Development Corp. is hosting a bidders webinar for local contractors Friday, March 15 at 2 p.m. Valencia-based general contractor on the project Storie and Severson Construction will take part.

Nearly two dozen specialty areas are being sought, including asphalt paving, concrete (large scale site and tilt-up), cubs, electrical, HVAC, plumbing and roofing.

Contactors will also be able to learn about local pre-apprenticeship program.

Located off Marks Avenue just north of Highway 180, the speculative project by the national developer is expected to create up to 1,000 long-term industrial jobs and employ 1,000 construction workers.


Massive shipping terminal nears completion in Visalia

VISALIA – Visalia is establishing itself as a core shipping hub in California, as evidenced by a 1-million-square-foot shipping facility on track for completion in June.

Bob O’Neill, the senior vice president of acquisitions for industrial real estate agency CapRock Partners, told The Sun-Gazette that Visalia is perfectly situated for shipping. CapRock is the agency responsible for the construction of the new facility.

“One thing we like about Visalia is its central location,” O’Neill said. “It is one of the only locations where a truck driver can do a one-day turnaround within their eight-hour shift.”

O’Neill explained that the two major ports in California are Long Beach and the Bay Area, both of which can be reached from Visalia.

“Corporate occupiers like it because they can play the shipping lines and ports off of each other and have diversification and pricing power,” O’Neill said. “It is also a location that can service over 50 million people in the western U.S. That is something that is very attractive to us and the tenants we attract.”

The current buildout is just the beginning of CapRock’s investment. The property will ultimately bring more than 5 million square feet of warehouse space. The project is staggered, so once a tenant is occupying the first building, the next building will begin construction.

“It is a long-term commitment,” O’Neill said. “We really like working with the city, we believe in the region; so these are long-term investments for us.”

O’Neill said that the city has been helpful in navigating the permitting process and has been highly supportive throughout the project. CapRock first began investing in construction projects in Visalia in 2017. O’Neill said the biggest challenges up to this point have been the market timing.

“The biggest challenges have been navigating inflation which has caused significant construction cost increases and significant increases in financing costs for our construction loan,” O’Neill said. “We have been able to work through those and find a window in time that has enabled us to move forward with this project and deliver it this summer.”

A tenant has not yet been identified for the current space, but O’Neill said he anticipates a Fortune 500 corporation to occupy the property. CapRock has received “very preliminary” inquiries, according to O’Neill.

Depending on the occupant, O’Neill believes the project could employ anywhere from 300 to over 1,000 people. While the building is expected to be some type of shipping hub, O’Neill said similar buildings have been used for light manufacturing and assembly.

Companies such as Tesla frequently occupy large warehouse buildings to construct solar chargers and battery stations, which are then shipped to locations where they are installed.

“We build our facilities to be flexible in terms of what kinds of tenants can occupy them,” O’Neill said. “One of the types of tenants that we have fielded inquiries from in other markets has been the manufacturing type, with some assembly, and also a component of distribution.”

The building currently has the walls up and the roof finished. O’Neill said the next phase of the project will be paint, which he said will happen soon. At that point, O’Neill anticipates rapid increases in interest from tenants who can see the light at the end of the tunnel for the project.

Two other developments, known as CapRock Central Point 1 and 2, were completed in 2021. The shipping hub is located at 4001 Plaza Drive, which offers easy access to freeways, rail lines and airports. The building is expected to be completed in June.


Plan calls for football stadium, 2 community parks, pair of lakes 668 housing units plus 339,886 square feet of commercial uses

The housing includes:

*80 apartments incorporated with mixed use commercial.

*378 units in more traditional apartment complexes.

Cambay Group — the developer of River Islands — will retain ownership of the apartments.

Having 668 living units integrated with commercial uses along with recreational amenities is designed to make the town center neighborhood walkable for those that reside there. A stadium that River Islands will use for home football games will be under the control of a private entity just like the Islanders baseball field and adjoining soccer complex.

As such, they are designed to be employed for a variety of community uses that could range from concerts and car shows to festivals and more. The Lathrop Polce Department headquarters is also part of the town center. There will be two manmade lakes.

River Islands President Susan Dell’Osso has noted in the past that the goal is to lure restaurants that can offer lakeside dining among other uses. There are no “box-style” commercial endeavors envisioned for the town center. With the close proximity of the stadium and baseball field, such a design lends itself to attendees of the games to walk to nearby restaurants before or after games. The idea of a town center stadium was inspired by Dell’Osso’s high school days in Southern California where high school games were played at a community college stadium on top of a commercial area. Classmates — and family of players as well as others attending — would often walk to restaurants after games to dine. There will also be two community parks in the town center neighborhood.


VOLT Institute

VOLT Institute Implements Changes for Enhanced Realism in Training

Enhancing Practical Skills and Safety: VOLT Institute is rolling out changes starting this March to make its training more reflective of real-world job experiences in production settings. Key updates include a stricter emphasis on attendance, punctuality, continuous safety practices, and lean manufacturing principles, notably 5S and TIMWOODS wastes, along with GEMBA, JIT, and Kaizen for continuous improvement. Shifts and Timeclock Integration: To mimic actual job settings, students will now use a timeclock for tracking attendance, refer to sessions as “shifts”, and participate in shift change meetings to discuss safety, key topics, and foster engagement in learning and skills development.

Expanding Access with VOLT On the Go (VOTG)

Reaching Underserved Communities: Funded by an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant, VOTG aims to extend VOLT’s educational offerings to investors and underserved communities. The program provides practical knowledge in essential technical areas through a hands-on approach, enabling entry into the job market. Partnerships with Amatrol and SACA support equipment provision and micro-certification, ensuring significant skill development. Successful Launch and Future Plans: The VOTG Mechanical Drives course, initiated in partnership with Turlock Adult School, saw a promising start with 13 attendees learning vital mechanical skills. With more classes on the horizon, these courses, free to the public via an EDA grant, offer invaluable “hands-on” training within local communities.

VOLT On the Go Gains Momentum

Highlight at Economic Elevate: At the recent Turlock Economic Elevate, VOLT showcased the VOTG program’s potential to empower local communities and attract investor interest. Demonstrations of Amatrol’s portable training units underscored the program’s flexibility and efficiency in delivering technical skills training on the go.

New Scholarship Opportunities

Supporting Local Residents: New scholarships, thanks to contributions from several city councils and Aemetis Inc., are now available for residents interested in pursuing maintenance mechanic careers at VOLT Institute, demonstrating ongoing community support and commitment to workforce development.


Renewable energy projects near Rosamond would generate 1,700 construction jobs

Eastern Kern’s renewable energy portfolio would add three large installations producing more than 1,700 construction jobs by the end of this year if the county Board of Supervisors approves the West Coast’s first micro steel mill and two photovoltaic solar developments with power storage set for review Tuesday.

The separate developments, all proposed to be built in the Mojave-Rosamond area, are part of what Director Lorelei Oviatt of Kern’s Planning and Natural Resources Department called the “new future,” in that all three represent clean energy alternatives to conventional industrial models.

By far the smallest of the three projects, San Diego-based Pacific Steel Group’s Mojave Micro Mill on undeveloped land southeast of Highway 14 and Sopp Road, would create the most jobs, employing 417 hourly and salaried workers, plus 23 third-party positions for duties like security.

The plant would run 24 hours per day, seven days weekly, turning scrap metal and raw material into rebar for use in construction mostly in Southern California, with some of the product going to Northern California and some to Mexico.

Carbon capture would be a novel aspect of the project: The 174-acre site would include a system for compressing, dehydrating and purifying carbon dioxide that would be stored on-site and ultimately hauled by truck to a site yet to be identified.

At least some of the power to run the operation, consisting mainly of a 489,200-square-foot steel mill, would come from a 63-acre photovoltaic solar array that would be part of the project. It would also be fueled by petroleum coke or biocarbon.

The board’s approval, as proposed, would entail certifying an environmental review that identified significant and unavoidable impacts to aesthetics, air quality and noise. Supervisors will also be asked to approve a series of conditional use permits and zone variances.

County staff have called for the developer to pay $100,000 for CO2 response equipment and training for the Kern County Fire Department and local fire stations.

If approved, construction would be expected to start in the third quarter of this year; the operation would launch in the second quarter of 2026. At peak construction, the project would employ up to 515 construction workers at once.

The larger of the two photovoltaic projects under consideration is a 600-megawatt plant with 4,000 megawatt-hours of battery energy storage proposed by Enterprise Solar Storage LLC, part of Terra-Gen, which is owned by New Jersey-based Energy Capital Partners.

The project is proposed to be built over 28 months on 2,320 acres of mostly undeveloped land south of Highway 58 and west of Highway 14.

As with the other solar project, it would involve putting up an array of solar panels, an electrical collector system, inverters, battery storage, a substation, transmission infrastructure, communication towers, access roads and security.

Both projects would require the board to certify the respective environmental reviews, zoning changes and conditional use permits. In the Terra-Gen plant’s case, construction would take 28 months of construction averaging 250 people per day, with a peak workforce of 550 workers. The eventual operation would be expected to employ six people on a full-time basis.

The other solar project, called Bullhead Solar, would generate 270 megawatts and offer 1,080 megawatt-hours of battery storage on 1,343 acres of undeveloped, some of it farmland and some grazing property, near 100th Street West and Dawn Road.

San Diego-based developer EDF Renewables LLC estimates construction would take 18 months with an average of 201 people working per day, with a peak workforce of 627. Operations and maintenance would involve the equivalent of 15 people from an adjacent solar project the Board of Supervisors approved in 2020.


Camarena Health opens in Chowchilla

CHOWCHILLA — Camarena Health celebrated the opening of its newest Urgent Care with a ribbon cutting ceremony and facility tours open to invited guests and media on Wednesday.

The 9,000 square-foot facility is located in the heart of Chowchilla off Hospital Drive. It will provide urgent care and walk-in access to the residents of Chowchilla and surrounding communities with room to grow and bring additional services in the near future.

“Camarena Health has been proudly serving the community of Chowchilla for almost 20 years,” said Paolo Soares, CEO of Camarena Health. “We are very excited about this new location in the City of Chowchilla as it will allow us to bring much needed urgent care services to residents while continuing to meet the healthcare needs of the community for many years to come.”


Business co-op office opens at Amtrak Station

On Thursday, officials with the City of Hanford, the Valley Community Small Business Development Center, and community members gathered at the Hanford Amtrak Station to celebrate the opening of the Hanford Outreach Office. The two-year “in-kind” facility lease agreement, provided by the city, allows the Valley Community SBDC to provide workshops, one-on-one counseling, webinars, and various technical assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs.


‘University Community Development’ dream is alive and well

The Virginia Smith Trust — which at one time controlled all the land that UC Merced is on, and the land south of the University on Old Lake Road — is still very active.

There’s a plan that’s moving along to boost an already significant scholarship fund for high school students across the county through the development of a University Community on the remaining VST land, near the campus.

This plan includes the construction of 4,000 dwelling units for all income levels, 862,000 square feet of retail/office space, a K-8 school, a fire station, sports park and recreation center, a MCOE Scholars Academy, and its own police sub-station.

All of this is making its way through the local government approval process and state review. The plan is expected to take 15 years for completion, and the backers of the project are optimistic of receiving the go-ahead. It is the only project which presently has all the environmental clearance for such a project in that northern area of Merced.

It is a major undertaking; however, when it’s completed, it will meet the dreams of the Virginia Smith family in providing scholarships for students to go to get their degree.

Not everyone is on board. There is an element of the city saying, “This is great for the north part of the city, but what about South Merced, and what about affordable housing?”

Steve Peck, the project manager, spoke at the Merced Rotary Club last week and answered questions about the plan and timetable for meetings with the various agencies. He said it was a case of completing the promise made many years ago.

“We don’t want to take anyone for granted,” Peck said. “This is really about providing a means for our local children to gain a college education.”

While the terms of the Virginia Trust make it clear the scholarship program is for four-year college programs, it does not exclude Merced College which now offers some four year degrees.

Without the Virginia Trust there is no way UC Merced would have located in the Merced area. When the decision was made to locate the UC campus, both Madera and Fresno were in the race and seemed to have the upper hand. Bob Carpenter and other people like Tim O’Neill were major players in bringing the university to Merced.

Even after Merced was named as the location for the university, a major legal challenge forced it to locate on a public golf course, and not on the other side of the lake where many thought it should be built. The opponents used the Fairy Shrimp species as a means of challenging the use of most of the land given to the UC Merced by the Virginia Smith Trust, which is essentially made up of Merced County Office of Education Board members.

In getting the California Regents to decide on Merced for its location, the local committee came up with a stroke of genius and asked the school children to sign post cards urging the Regents to locate in Merced. At a critical time those postcards arrived at the Regents meeting and the result was tremendous. Merced was decided as the best location.

As the Virginia Smith project winds its way though the labyrinth of meetings, the first one was held on July 12 at the county’s Planning Commission, to be followed by a second meeting of the commission on Aug. 9. The Merced County Board of Supervisors will hear the proposal on Aug. 22. Then a tentative meeting with the Merced City Council is set up for Oct. 6 over the need to annex the area, perhaps in December.

If all goes well, the Virginia Smith Project will start on January of 2025, and they are hoping to have the first homes for sale or rent on June in 2026. Completion of the project is slated for 2042.



PressBox Sports Grill owners Thomas and Davita Miller are in the process of opening a new Fresno restaurant they describe as modern California cuisine meets French technique. The Millers have been working with a local designer on the feel of “Bulle”, coming this summer to a former Chase bank building at Marks and Herndon avenues.

“Our design concept is a luxury modern garden feel,” Miller said. “The ambience will be lively.”

He describes the restaurant as “extreme farm to table,” using the finest local ingredients possible. Taking an heirloom approach to its cuisine, Bulle will avoid genetically modified foods and embrace sustainability. The protein will be free range and hormone free.

“So the goal is going to be using the most free of all the radical particles that we deal with in our society today,” said Miller.

French technique will be prevalent — think braising, boiling and other unique touches. The name “Bulle,” which means “bubble” in French, was chosen because bubbles are a joyful but possibly overlooked part of people’s lives, he said. They represent boiling temperatures for food and liquids. People love them in champagne.

The plan for Bulle is to open around July or August this year. Plumbing is being installed before any major cosmetics are completed. Miller said on Monday he’s paying for permits to get the ball rolling this week for bigger plans. Miller anticipates more features to be added as the process of creating the restaurant continues.

It’s going to be a busy year for the Sunset Square Shopping Center. Across from Bulle, in a former Rite Aid building, the 27,000 square-foot Syctron Freeplay Arena is set to open for families possibly by the end of March. The lease for the play arena and three new restaurants for the Sunset Square Shopping Center earned the 2023 CoStar Impact Award for lease of the year in 2023, selected for the real estate information firm by a panel of local industry professionals.

“This large retail vacancy was a blight on the area for many years,” said Jeff Pace, president of Colliers, a local judge. “Once occupied, the tenancy will add an innovative use to this neighborhood center and increase foot traffic for the benefit of other small retail tenants in the center. The use really compliments the neighborhood by providing a new facility for healthy indoor family recreation.”