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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.”

Remote workers and super commuters are on the rise – and they probably make more than you

Messer to build new Carbon Dioxide plant in Keyes, California

Investment supports U.S. expansion strategy, meets growing demand from food, beverage & electronics manufacturers

Bridgewater, N.J., U.S., March 8, 2019 – Today, Messer LLC (Messer) announced that it will begin construction on a new Carbon Dioxide (CO2) plant in Keyes, California. The plant will provide 450 tons-per-day of CO2, an essential product for carbonated beverages, food freezing & chilling, and electronics manufacturing. The product is also used by a wide range of industrial companies in northern California and surrounding areas. The new plant is slated for completion in Q4 2019.

“This investment represents our commitment to strategic U.S. expansion to meet growing market demand,” said Jens Luehring, President and CEO, Messer Americas. “We’re dedicated to providing a reliable supply of industrial gases to our customers and look forward to breaking ground on this plant to further meet that need.”

Messer currently operates two CO2 plants and two air separation units (ASUs) in California. Once completed, the new plant will support Messer’s strategy to enhance CO2 network reliability for customers.

About Messer
On March 1, 2019, Messer Group and CVC Capital Partners Fund VII (CVC) acquired most of the North American gases business of Linde plc, as well as certain Linde business activities in South America.  With over 70 production facilities and approximately 5,400 employees operating in the US, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, and Chile, Messer today is one of the leading industrial gas companies in North and South America. Together with Messer Group, the company represents a USD $3 billion global enterprise with presence in the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit. www.messer-us.com

New automated Visalia store will have no cashiers, no lines

A California computer scientist is set to compete for millennial dollars right here in Visalia.

Computer scientist Aamir Farooqui plans to open a 1,800 square-foot, fully-automated convenience store, similar to Amazon Go.

Based in Sacramento, Farooqui says his new concept store is the first of its kind in the Central Valley. He hopes to duplicate it elsewhere, he said.

An automated convenience store relies on computers and robotics. Amazon calls it “just walk out” shopping.

The new Visalia store will be built at 707 S. Bridge St., in the middle of the city.

Currently, it’s a vacant lot sandwiched between a second-hand store and homes. Farooqui bought the vacant parcel last year.

The developer is seeking a conditional-use permit from the city for the new store.

“In our model, we will be using new type of vending machines equipped with WiFi and cameras,” Farooqui said. “People can buy merchandise using cash (after converting to gift cards), credit or debit cards or through a mobile app. At the store opening, we plan to give away 100 free gift cards to our first customers.”

These kinds of stores have taken off in Europe where they go by the names of SmartMart and RoboMart. Farooqui says he has yet to choose a name for the Visalia location.

He hopes to open as soon as possible.

Not having on-site employees will allow the business to save money although it may take shoppers a little time to get used to a new routine using technology.

“Our goal is simply to reduce the cost of running a store for small businesses and at the same time offer 24-hour convenient service to the local community.”

Amazon’s model is simple.

“You simply walk in, grab what you need, and go. Amazon bills your credit card as you pass through the turnstile on your way out,” he said. “Moments later, an app on your phone provides a receipt detailing what you’ve bought, what you paid, and even how long you spent inside.”

Grocery stores are automating the shopping experience led by Walmart and Sam’s Club. The Visalia Walmart is installing more automated check-out devices and Sam’s Club wants to allow shoppers to scan products by holding their smartphones over a product, without having to find and capture a barcode on the package.

Microsoft is said to be developing technology that can track what shoppers add to their carts.

Meanwhile, Target is changing item pickup service at the stores with Pickup Towers, making the in-store process automated.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2019/03/08/new-automated-visalia-store-have-no-cashiers-no-lines/3105346002/https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2019/03/08/new-automated-visalia-store-have-no-cashiers-no-lines/3105346002/

The Sound of Results


(Photo: pxhere)

It is often said results speak for themselves. But, what if they don’t? What if the most important accomplishment is mastering new ways to think and work together—culture change?

The San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance is built on the work of the Regional Jobs Initiative (RJI). The RJI was designed as a 5-year sprint in 2003 to create 30,000 jobs in the Central Valley, create new civic infrastructure, strengthen the workforce and build a dozen industry clusters. The theory—if we create jobs and a strong workforce—there will be resources for the city of Fresno to invest in amenities, parks and infrastructure instead of spending the bulk of its money on law enforcement. Everyone would benefit: job seekers, employers and the community. Much was accomplished. Many lessons were learned.

Businessman Mike Betts, informed by the work of the RJI, made a commitment to lead the Alliance from a civic perspective. Rather than create an industry cluster, he and many partners from government, education and nonprofits are standing together as citizens first to align resources and to get results. Rather than think from their self-interest, they are committed to doing what is best for the whole community. Single interests fragment and negotiate. Citizens align and leverage. You know which approach delivers better results!

New programs have started, dual enrollment is increasing, millions of dollars in equipment and programs have been added to career and technical education, instructors have become certified. The results are students are becoming credentialed and qualified for jobs, and students are finding career pathways they never knew existed.

Employers are discovering that if they want a strong workforce they must become a strong partner in curriculum design. They must offer externships so instructors are up to date on workforce culture and skill needs. They must offer internships to students at various levels as first jobs of generations past are no longer available. Most of all, they must be mentors and role models. Too many of our youth and young adults did not receive the kind of mentoring those in healthy families receive by osmosis. We must be intentional.

We are not alone in this work. The California Community Colleges initiated the Strong Workforce Program and the impacts have rippled throughout the state. New funding, new policies and more alignments are the fruit of these efforts. California Forward and the California Stewardship Network are working together, not just to accelerate outcomes from this program, but to address critical community issues that prevent too many of our residents from being job ready and thriving.

2019 is a big year for us. The eighth California Economic Summit is coming to Fresno in the fall. We encourage you to check out the Summit website and read the 2019 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity. Every region is on board, Governor Newsom has been involved since the beginning and the commitment to advance economic, social and environmental issues together is shared by all. Civic stewardship—leaders working together on behalf of the whole—is the path to achieving Golden State reality.

 

http://caeconomy.org/reporting/entry/the-sound-of-results

If there’s a map of meats, this butcher put Tulare on it

A Tulare butcher is making a splash in the world of smoked and cured meats — again.

This time, it’s a bigger splash.

Danny Mendes, owner of Tulare Meat Locker & Sausage Co., recently took home several awards at the annual California Association of Meat Processors’ Cured Meat Competition held at California State University, Chico.

This is the fourth year Mendes has entered his prized meats in the competition and the second time the business has taken home the best in show award.

Mendes has made a name for himself and is quickly gaining state and national recognition.

“They didn’t know what Tulare was,” he said. “They know now.”

At the state competition, Mendes entered 28 products in 18 different categories. He took home 10 grand champion wins. In total, he took home 18 awards.

“Getting best in show two out of the four years is pretty awesome,” he said. “It was impressive — a feel-good moment.”

Mendes received grand champion awards for his bone-in ham, Italian bacon, jalapeno cheese stick, stadium franks black label, old fashion hot dogs, fresh Italian sausage, smoked bratwurst, cheddar bratwurst, jalapeno cheddar sausage, braunschweiger, garlic summer sausage, duck bacon and Linguica-style cottage bacon.

He also received a merit award for his sugar cured bone-in ham and turkey bacon.

But the big takeaway was the coveted Joe Cutler Memorial Best of Show for his Italian bacon. His sausage was judged against the grand champions of each meat category — many his own creations.

Mendes first started to work for Tulare Meat Locker, which originally opened in 1976, when he was only 13. After a call from the former owner in 2003, Mendes decided he wanted to take over the business.

Over the last 15 years, Mendes has worked on his technique and offers custom butchery to Tulare County residents and beyond.

His sandwiches are top hits at the annual Ag Expo and Tulare County Fair.

“That’s what makes this place unique, it’s all done in house,” he said.

The shop offers custom butchering of livestock and fresh meat that isn’t sliced until ordered. Sausages, snack sticks, hams, tri-tip and linguica are also available. He hopes to one day expand his storefront and offer all in-house made sandwiches.

This year, there were 19 plants entered and 216 individual entries in 19 different classes.

The annual contest is open to all California Association of Meat Processor members and is judged by a panel of meat specialists.

Mendes is expected to compete at the national level this summer in Alabama.

Last year, he took home several wins at the American Association of Meat Processors’ American Cured Meat Championships, held in Kansas City.

Mendes won awards for five different meat products, one of which earned grand champion: his hot link sausage.

Tulare Meat Locker is located at 1531 E. Bardsley Ave.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2019/03/01/if-theres-map-meats-butcher-put-tulare-10-awards/3029578002/

A new rooftop bar is headed to a historic downtown Fresno building. Here’s what you need to know

Quail State bar has signed a lease to open in both indoor and outdoor spaces on the third-floor rooftop of the Pacific Southwest Building on Fulton Street. Photographed from Mariposa Street, Quail State will be on the east side of the historic building, facing the Radisson Hotel Conference Center on Van Ness Avenue.
Quail State bar has signed a lease to open in both indoor and outdoor spaces on the third-floor rooftop of the Pacific Southwest Building on Fulton Street. Photographed from Mariposa Street, Quail State will be on the east side of the historic building, facing the Radisson Hotel Conference Center on Van Ness Avenue.BETHANY CLOUGH BCLOUGH@FRESNOBEE.COM

Plastics manufacturing plant bringing 150 jobs to Modesto, relocating from Bay Area

 

The plastic injection molding company JATCO Incorporated is relocating from Union City to Modesto, CA. The plant makes a wide range of plastic products. The company is bringing 150 jobs to the valley, which will begin hiring this month.

First-of-its-kind mental health facility opens in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — A first-of-its-kind facility aimed at helping people suffering from mental health issues opened in Southeast Fresno on Thursday.
The new center will offer patients therapy while providing a secure residential environment.

The Crisis Residential Treatment Center is a beautiful facility that cost about $5 million to build, with most of the money coming from state funding.

As the need for mental health services in our community continue to increase at an alarming rate — the facility offers a home-like setting for adults experiencing serious psychotic episodes or intense emotional distress

“Hospitals are inundated with a lot of individuals that need mental health services so this is an added service. So instead of going to the hospital they can come here and we can stabilize them,” says Gerardo Cervanntes, an administrator at the facility.

The 12,000 square foot facility has 16 beds and will provide psychiatric support and case management service around the clock.

Fresno County Behavioral Health Director Dawan Utecht says one in five people suffer from some form of mental health issue
The goal here is to get residents used to daily household activities while learning coping skills necessary to successfully transition back into society.

“By having this it increases the chance of success that someone who’s been in a mental health crisis can get the resource they need so they dont get into another mental health crisis,” says Utecht.

Only clients with the greatest need and referred by the County Department of Behavioral Health will have access to this facility.

“A facility like this creates a stepping stone that’s closer to the ones before and after so when a person is making that pathway toward recovery, it’s not a Grand Canyon they have to leap to get that recovery. It’s really a clear pathway and this is a really important stepping stone for us,” says Utecht.

Administrators here expect to serve hundreds of people a year.

And tell me they hope to expand their reach over the next few years by offering live in housing for clients.