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Auto parts store building in Lathrop
The first standalone commercial building constructed in Lathrop in eight years an OReilly Auto Parts on Harlan Road held its official groundbreaking Wednesday morning. Pictured, from left, are Lathrop City Councilman Steve Dresser, Councilman Paul Akinjo, Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal, OReilly Regional Director Tony Lloyd and OReilly District Manager Dale Pointon. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

LATHROP – The last stand-alone commercial building constructed in Lathrop was built in 2006.

That’ll change in May when the 7,000-square-foot O’Reilly’s Auto Parts gets ready to throw open the doors and welcome customers to its location along Harlan Road. It is a project that city officials are hoping will be the first in a series of steps towards self-sufficiency and convenience for residents. 

The city has already made itself amicable to housing developers and despite inroads to the business community Target stands as the last commercial property that rose from the ground. 

So when city staffers gathered with O’Reilly executives and community members on Wednesday afternoon at the construction site to formally turn dirt for the first time, it represented a lot more than just another business opening up shop. 

“Lathrop has positioned itself as a very pro-development community, and I think that stands for retail and commercial properties as well,” Lathrop City Manager Steve Salvatore said. “We’d like to bring retail to our residents so they don’t have to leave Lathrop to get the things that they may need, and O’Reilly is perfect for that.”

Two O’Reilly representatives – Regional Director Tony Lloyd and District Manager Dale Pointon – were on hand to chat with city officials and received special awards and a formal welcome into a community that doesn’t already have an existing auto parts store. 

And according to Lloyd – who will oversee 58 O’Reilly stores when Lathrop comes on-line later this year – the kind words being shared about his company are definitely mutual. 

“It’s really been smooth sailing – the weather is going to sideline us a bit here, but we’re planning on finishing everything up in May, and we normally open 30 to 45 days after that. That’s when we hold our ribbon cuttings,” Lloyd said. “Lathrop has bent over backwards for us, and everything has really gone so smooth. 

“We were planning on opening up at the end of 2014, but things have gone so well that the project was fast-tracked. I think that says a lot.”

One of the things that Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal campaigned on was bringing business to Lathrop, and while O’Reilly sat on the parcel for a while before developing it, bringing something to town that didn’t already exist is just one piece of a puzzle that he hopes to one day see completed. 

Because independence, he said, starts at home. 

“I’d love to see Lathrop become a city where residents don’t have to leave the city for anything,” he said. “Projects like this create jobs and revenue and attract even more businesses,” Dhaliwal said. “It becomes a matter of convenience and what our residents should be able to enjoy.”