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Goal is to add civic uses, medical offices, possibly grocery store as well as housing to existing commercial endeavors
The lake at Orchard Valley by AMC Showplace Theaters.

It originally was envisioned as a 786,000-square-foot lifestyle center where in-line stores between major anchors faced an internal street and not the freeway to create a Main Street feel.

That was in 2005 before the Great Recession hit, online shopping started taking off, and the pandemic all combined to change the dynamics of retailing.

Now The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley is being re-imagined as a vibrant mixed use endeavor with up to 650 multiple family housing units along with potential complementary uses such as a grocery store, medical offices, and civic offices along with existing retail, 16-screen theater, restaurants, and health club.

When combined with The Atherton — and adjoining apartment complex with 214 units already in place and another 214 units breaking ground in coming months there will be 1,078 housing units within easy walking distance of the heart of Orchard Valley.

This means, based on typical apartment yield rates, roughly 2,200 people would reside close enough to restaurants, the gym, possibly a grocery store and other shopping that they can walk.

Such a transformation of a major shopping center has never takrn place in California without first tearing it down.

Orchard Valley’s initial design to replicate a Main Street retail experience with spaces for community events by a manmade lake that hosted wine tastings, farmers markets, non-profit benefits, and art shows during the past 13 years after Bass Pro Shop opened in 2008 dovetails well into the new direction.

If done right, Orchard Valley would become a town center of sorts not just for its residents but those of the greater Manteca community. It would borrow from the Santana Row model in San Jose where a designated area has been developed with robust residential and commercial with strong community gathering elements.

Manteca is hoping to parlay the design standards and municipal code changes needed to make the Orchard Valley transformation work into a template of sorts for other commercial areas in the city to add high density housing to increase foot traffic, reduce vehicle movement, and strength community cohesiveness.

As things stand now, there are no development standards in California to do what Poag Development — the owners of Orchard Valley — want to do.

If all goes well, the first diverging diamond interchange in California at Union Road and the 120 Bypass will provide access to the Golden State’s first major shopping center to add high density housing as a well-planned after-thought.

Manteca will be spending up to $260,000 — all of which will be reimbursed by the state — to retain the Los Angeles-based firm of AECOM with an international reputation for developing complex urban planning strategies and construction services.

They will provide designs that will allow The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley anchored by Bass Pro Shops to be transformed into a vibrant mixed use development.

There is plenty of space to deal with. The 1,592-space parking lot even on heavy shopping days such as Black Friday has never come close to being filled with one exception. That’s when Bass Pro staged its grand opening in 2008 drawing close to 40,000 people during a three-day period. Many of them had to be bused in from various parking lots around Manteca.

There is ample vacant in-line store space that has never been occupied. Seven of the eight free-standing restaurant pads were never developed as well as a commercial pad south of Bass Pro Shops and east of the Hampton Inn that In Shape Health Clubs once considered establishing a premier health club complex.

 AECOM has been involved in planning at Orchard Valley since 2005, when the firm prepared the environmental review for the shopping center. AECOM has also more recently been involved in planning work at the center, reviewing proposed changes to the property and evaluating the key planning issues associated with those changes, along with the infrastructure and environmental requirements associated with changes to the property.   

Because the endeavor would require massaging development and zoning code standards, Manteca was able to secure a $260,000 State of California Local Early Action Planning grant with the help of the San Joaquin Council of Governments with the idea it could be used as a template for similar endeavors elsewhere in California.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email