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Austin: Spreckels on steroids

Manteca’s next big thing in business parks

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Austin: Spreckels on steroids

Palm Avenue is just south of the northern boundary of the 1,049-acre Austin Road Business Park.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED November 6, 2011 12:19 a.m.

Salty snacks started the stampede to Spreckels Park.

Now Bill Filios is on the hunt for the next Frito-Lay to do the same thing for Manteca’s next big thing - the 1,049-acre Austin Road Business Park and its promise of 13,000 jobs.

“There are companies out there right now that are looking for a million or more square feet for distribution centers,” said Filios of ANF Development, the lead developers of Austin Road Business Park.

Austin Road - now that it has a vested map and has been annexed to the city - is in the hunt to land one of the new generation of mega-distribution centers.

The right “seed project” would start the development ball rolling. It worked for Spreckels Park in 1999 when then AKF Development‘s commercial real estate broker was able to convince Frito-Lay that Manteca was ideal to consolidate their Stockton and Modesto operations into one location. This time around, the big draw is Manteca’s central location to 18 million consumers within 100 miles. That’s not all. Manteca also offers access to key north-south and east west freeways and the Austin Road site is within minutes by truck of two major intermodal trailers to freight operations - Union Pacific Railroad and Santa Fe Railroad. It also helps that Manteca has relatively inexpensive land and inexpensive labor.

Austin Road Business Park is a multi-use project with business parks, retail and housing.

It is like Spreckels Park on steroids.

The impact of the project generally south of Highway 99 saddling Austin Road is so big it will:

•Possibly require a re-alignment of Highway 99.

•Generate 10, 200 residents or about a seventh of the existing population of Manteca.  By contrast, Spreckels Park added about 600 residents.

•Convert 1,049 acres from farming and rural residential use to urban development. Spreckels Park consists of 362 acres.

•Create up to 13,000 jobs - or close to 50 percent of the existing jobs in the city. Spreckels Park has generated just under 2,000 jobs so far.

•Add up to 3.5 million square feet of general commercial or about 26 times the square footage of the Manteca Costco store.

•Add 2,358 traditional single family homes and 1,840 multi-family dwelling units such as townhouses, apartments, and condos. Spreckels Park added 166 single family homes.

•Accommodate 8 million square feet of industrial/business park, and office use or space equal to 17 times the coverage area of the Ford Motor Parts distribution center on Spreckels Avenue,

•Impact Ripon Unified schools even bigger than Manteca Unified schools as most of the residential would be within Manteca city limits but within the Ripon Unified district. The number of students going to Ripon could easily exceed the current enrollment of Ripon High.

Austin Road Business Park is also expected to change Manteca’s 1960s-style development patterns. The real big change will involve 84 acres of commercial mixed use that will blend high density residnetial with commercial uses.

It is designed to encourage a valley version based on the principals of the much acclaimed Santana Row development that combines commercial and retail to create a neighborhood where people can live and walk to stores, entertainment, and other diversions. Santana Row in San Jose is an upscale version of what a commercial mixed use zone will allow.

The high density residential units would be more like condos, townhouses or even apartments you’d find in urban settings with the emphasis being on street access.

Design standards would require the architectural styles used in commercial to blend in with the residential.

It would allow free-standing high density residential projects mixed in with commercial or it could have the two uses combined in one structure.

One example is having retail and restaurants on the ground floor and residential on the second floor and above.

Housing - and commercial - will not be the first part of the project to develop. Instead, they are focusing on the business park portion.

That is driven by two realities. First, Manteca has more than enough residential projects waiting in the wings to take care of its housing needs for the next eight to 10 years if the economy were to turn around today. Commercial develops near housing.

The other significant factors are many large companies are looking at ways to reduce costs and to set the stage to take advantage of the next upturn. Manteca’s location to 18 million customers and its access to key transportation corridors makes it a leading candidate for distribution and small-scale manufacturing that serves the region or the north state.

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