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Cashing in on Highway 99 traffic
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The red designates commercial areas including areas around the replacement Lathrop Road and Highway 99 interchange.

The vision for the 120 Bypass is changing.

Twenty years ago before e-commerce started changing the retail landscape, the city’s general plan land use envisioned large parcels of property along the southern side of the 120 Bypass that will have four interchanges a mile apart once the McKinley Avenue interchange is completed within the next few years was for separate commercial areas with apartments segregated on either end of the corridor.

 The vision was designed to cash in on big, medium and retail boxes — firms such as Lowe’s, Best Buy and Office Depot — that scrambled for freeway exposure in growing areas where there was 100,000 plus residents within a 10-minuite drive. 

The advent of e-commerce has changed that reality.

Now the plan calls for a commercial mix use for much of the corridor that will blend residential with commercial and other uses. It is a trend that is catching on across the country to counter the encroachment of e-commerce by creating pools of population mixed with stores and restaurants that are within walking distance to provide a foundation base of customers. The lifestyle it creates complete with entertainment that runs the gamut from dining and “night life” to other leisure type activities has been taking hold in a growing number of communities.

The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley is primed for such a transformation given it already has some key elements — entertainment in the form of the AMC 16 Showplace Theater, dining options, and leisure activities through a fitness center as well as retail and organized community events such as  farmers’ markets. The owners of Orchard Valley are pursuing plans that would add apartments and condos to the mix.

An updated preferred land use plan is being reviewed by the Manteca Planning Commission when they meet tonight at 7 o’clock at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

One of the suggested zoning designations — a new “commercial designation” is designed to accommodate traditional general commercial development as well as the mixed use approach.

It is a nod to the fact Manteca with 81,450 residents at the current growth rate is likely to have 105,000 residents by 2030 plus the fact regional growth served by the 120 Bypass, East Highway 120, and Highway 99 will continue. That will mean there will be a demand for more brick and mortar even as e-commerce has taken 11 percent of all retail sales according to the Federal Reserve.

The preferred land use map applies the new commercial designation to an area that could benefit from growth and traffic along the Highway 99 corridor as well as in the northern and eastern parts of Manteca — the Lathrop Road and Highway 99 interchange.

The replacement interchange put in place four years ago enhances the appeal for commercial. It is essentially the only interchange in an urban setting that is in the path of growth with ease on and off freeway access as well as freeway visibility that is a blank slate for commercial development along the heavily traveled Highway 99 corridor.

It is slightly larger in area that the commercial district along East Yosemite Avenue and the Highway 99 interchange that stretches from a point west of Cottage Avenue to Austin Road.

As envisioned, the proposed general plan land use encourages commercial at six interchanges — the future McKinley, Airport Way, Union Road, and Main on the corridor and Lathrop and Yosemite on 99. The Austin Road interchange that will be reconfigured as part of Caltrans’ solution to improve safety and operational flows at the 120 Bypass and 99 interchange is in an urban reserve area with mixed use designated along the two eastern quadrants.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email