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Austin Road showing up on expansion radar for firms
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Austin Road Business Park - a planned 1,049-acre development in southeast Manteca - is starting to get nibbles of interest.

Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford noted that developers are starting to get inquiries from interested corporations.

“That’s going to happen just based on the size of the project,” the mayor said in reference to the adopted plan that can easily accommodate distribution centers in excess of a million square feet with quick freeway and rail access.

Once a nibble turns into the landing of an employment center, Weatherford anticipates Manteca will have a strong magnet to pull in additional jobs - especially in distribution - as the economy gains strength. It is projected that at build out the project could add almost 13,000 jobs to Manteca’s economy.

Economists have noted many corporations are looking for ways to consolidate distribution facilities and relocate to areas with enhanced transportation and more central to larger markets.

Developer Bill Filios of ANF has noted that Austin Road Business Park is now in a position similar to what Spreckels Park was in just over 13 years ago searching for a seed tenant. That would trigger investment in infrastructure which in turn would be used to lure more job centers.

Weatherford in talking about the future of Manteca at the dawn of 2012 noted that Austin Road Business Park will play a role much like Spreckels Park did in jump starting the local economy in the last decade but on a larger scale. The Austin Road project is almost three times the size of Spreckels Park.

The mayor believes it represents one of Manteca’s best opportunities to lure employers to add local jobs. Build-out, once the first tenant is secured, is expected to be between 15 and 20 years. By contrast, Spreckels Park had a projected 20-year build out although it was almost 100 percent completed in 10 years.

The right “seed project” would start the development ball rolling at the Austin Road Business Park. It worked for Spreckels Park in 1999 when the 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.

The impact of the project generally south of Highway 99 saddling Austin Road is so big it will generate 10, 200 residents or about a seventh of the existing population of Manteca.  By contrast, Spreckels Park added about 600 residents.

It also will:

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

• The potential to 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.