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Austin Road: 13,000 jobs possible

Sequel to Spreckels Park success story

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Austin Road: 13,000 jobs possible

Tractor trailers at the docks of the Millard Refrigeration Services building in Spreckels Park on Saturday.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED January 4, 2009 1:06 a.m.

Manteca’s next big thing when it comes to generating good paying jobs won’t be the much-ballyhooed Tara Business Park.

Instead, all bets are on the 1,050-acre Austin Road Business Park as the sequel to Spreckels Park. At build-out, it could generate up to 13,000 jobs.

Manteca city leaders last week sent letters to the property owners involved in the 350-acre Tara Business Park project letting them know the city does not intend to move forward with the consultant feasibility report due to the current economic climate. Municipal planners have heralded Tara —located immediately south of McKinley Avenue and the Highway 120 Bypass where Manteca is pursuing an interchange – as the big employment center for future jobs since 1995. Spreckels Sugar’s demise and AKF’s subsequent move to turn the 350-acre sugar plant site into a three-prong economic development of industrial, commercial and residential uses generated close to 2,500 new jobs.

AKF along with other local developers have banned together to move the Austin Road Business Park forward.

The developers along with staff met last week to review the traffic report for the project. The notice of project is being distributed within 10 days for Austin Road as part of the environmental impact review process.

The development group is moving forward with the annexation process in a bid to have everything in place over the next 18 to 24 months so that they can be ready to move when the economy picks back up.

Having no direct freeway access handicaps the Tara Business Park site. Austin Road Park has an existing interchange.

It has been determined that a good portion of the business park and industrial park segment of that project can be handled by the existing interchange.

Manteca is working toward a new interchange that will cost $110 million. The price is due to the fact it must be located further south as the existing interchange is too close to the Highway 120 Bypass ramps. The freeway must be shifted to the east while the new four-lane Austin Road crossing must also bridge the railroad tracks.

The new interchange is also the epicenter of the ultimate road system envisioned for South Manteca and North Ripon.

The 1,050 acres comprising Austin Road Business Park abuts Woodward Avenue and Highway 99 to the north, an imaginary line if Highway 99 ran due south at the interchange with the 120 Bypass instead of angling off to the southeast, and future Ripon city limits on the south as well as the east.

It would have 3.5 million square feet of general commercial or about four times the amount of square footage as the lifestyle mall that is now under construction It would also have 8 million square feet of industrial, business park, and office use plus 3,400 homes. This is also where the proposed Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau events center and 5,000-seat amphitheater is proposed.

The industrial uses would generate between 3,000 and 6,000 jobs while the retail portion could yield up to 7,000 jobs.

The homes could accommodate up to 10,200 residents are just under a sixth of the city’s current population.

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