Free Weston Ranch burst into the scene about six years ago. It’s a grassroots movement being vigorously pushed by residents of the community who want to see their six plus-square-mile community detached from the City of Stockton.
Stockton annexed this area, located just north of San Joaquin County General Hospital on the west side of Interstate 5, when the development started in the late 1980s.
Now, the residents are laying out the welcome mat for commercial and retail establishments. Some Weston Ranchers made their wish list known in responses they sent to Free Weston Ranch volunteer David Jackson’s “simple query” posted on his Facebook page.
“Realize that no one can promise anything, but what stores would you like to see in a Weston Ranch Towne Center?” asked the former IntelU.S.A. and Hewlett-Packard employee.
“I am working on contacting retailers to see if we can help generate interest,” added Jackson who has been canvassing neighborhoods to see how they can make a Towne Center project idea into reality.
Initial responses to his query produced a few dozen suggestions from residents eager to provide their input into something that they see as vital to their community. Suggestions ranged from big-box retail stores such as JC Penney, grocery stores such as Raley’s and Save Mart, and restaurants ranging from the widely known formal and fast-food chain restaurants – e.g., Olive Garden for the former, and Del Taco for the latter – DIY destinations such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, banks, and credit unions.
The commercial wish list is long, scores of them. “A good gas station,” suggested one resident.
“I have to be honest. I don’t care what bank comes out here. I have Bank of the West and like them. I would love to stick with them but would switch to whatever came out here for ease of use,” was the input from Amber Hernandez.
“Starbucks, Save Mart, JCP or Kohl’s, Chipotle, Chili’s, JoAnn’s or Michael’s, Panda Express, Costco, Walgreens and Bank of the West — we would patronize them all regularly,” added Thomas Campagna to the growing community wish list.
Currently, there is just one small neighborhood shopping center serving this community of more than 20,000 residents, with Food-4-Less as the anchor establishment.
Resident Olga Almada Hurtado offered a comment that put wishes versus reality into perspective, saying, “If you look at what’s offered already, we need to pick stores/restaurants that are not in the surrounding areas between Stockton and Lathrop – Chick-Fil-A, Peet’s Coffee, sushi, grocery store, drugstore, etc.”
Reacting to the feedback to his unofficial poll, Jackson said, “Honestly, I think the response is great but still too small. I want as much ammunition as I can muster to impress big retailers that the French Camp Road and Interstate 5 location is really a prime spot to plant a new store. Without an anchor or two, we won’t see any movement any time soon. But we will be pressuring the City of Stockton to offer tax incentives to retailers to build there.”