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Family City slowly luring regional retail, entertainment
living spaces grand opening
Craig Johnson of Living Spaces cuts the ribbon Tuesday on the new Manteca store as, from left, Councilman Gary Singh, Mayor Ben Cantu, and Manteca Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joann Beattie look on. Behind them are Richard Silverman and Steve DeBrum who were on the council when the deal was made to bring Living Spaces to Manteca.

The opening of Living Spaces furniture showroom on Tuesday on Atherton Drive west of Union Road is the latest in a deliberate strategy by Manteca officials to snare super-regional retailers and family entertainment venues.

Unlike traditional regional retailers such as Costco or Walmart that typically look for strong markets in a 10 to 25 mile radius, super-regional specialized businesses such as Living Spaces, Bass Pro Shops, Great Wolf Resort, and Big League Dreams are seeking robust 50- to 100-mile markets.

Such concerns essentially offer Manteca the opportunity to lure consumer dollars and the taxes they pay on sales transactions and rooms not just from Tracy, Modesto, and Stockton but even farther away.

Done right, such super-regional deals don’t hurt existing local businesses as they are aimed at somewhat different markets.

The impact on the municipal budget is significant. Bass Pro at one time estimated 96 percent of its taxable sales were to non-Manteca residents.

Bass Pro Shops opening did not devastate Fishermen’s Warehouse. Great Wolf’s 500 rooms won’t draw from the business of other hotels in Manteca and could actually — depending upon the events at their conference center — help other hotels given all event attendees may not be looking for an indoor waterpark resort experience as well.

“Manteca is in the middle,” developer Bill Filios said of the traditional 25-mile radius regional market and the 50-mile plus radius market Bass Pro Shops operates in.

There are over 950,000 consumers within 25 miles of Union Road and the 120 Bypass. Of those 400,000 are to the north in the Stockton-Lodi area, 350,000 to the south in the Modesto-Ceres-Riverbank area, and 120,000  to the west in the Tracy Mountain House area.

Then there are the 125,000 consumers in the Manteca-Lathrop-Ripon area at the center of what former Planning Director Terrance Grindall who now works with the City of Brentwood as assistant city manager once described as “the center of the doughnut”.

What makes Manteca’s location even more appealing is growth. If you eliminate abnormalities such as burned out Paradise being repopulated, cities of less than 600 people adding 10 percent population from one new subdivision, and then give Mountain House city status then five of the 10 fastest growing cities in California were in the South San Joaquin County – Manteca, Tracy, Lathrop, Mountain House and Ripon. That’s based on state Department of Finance data.

And the magnet that lured the previously mentioned super-regional retailers and entertainment concerns is the 120 Bypass with its easy access, connections to Highway 99 and Interstate 5, available land with freeway exposure and 90,000 or so people passing by on a daily basis.

Filios played a key role in securing the 116,641-square foot Living Spaces furniture showroom that is in the Union Crossing commercial project he is now developing. He also was instrumental in snaring Del Webb at Woodbridge for Manteca as well as putting together the land deal that landed Bass Pro Shops and The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley.

It was also his role with AKF Development after years of working for the late Alex Spanos developing apartment projects across the country that turned the shuttered Spreckels Sugar plant with its 362 acres into a multi-use economic juggernaut that gave the redevelopment agency the financial muscle  to build the $29 million Big League Dreams sports complex. Tax revenues from Spreckels Park also made it possible for the initial extension of Daniels Street west of Airport Way to open up land for the development of the Stadium Retail Center and Costco.

Filios is also the one the council serving 12 years ago credited with planting the idea of the city thinking big and looking at an indoor waterpark that operates year round instead of trying to find a new outdoor seasonal waterpark on to fill the void created when the Manteca Waterslides closed.

“It (landing more regional retailers) is not going to happen overnight,” Filios said. “The retail business and entertainment concerns were hit hard by the pandemic.”

Filios said he first became familiar with 50-mile plus radius markets when Bass Pro Shops representatives back in 2006 unrolled a map with a circle drawn around Manteca at the center that took in San Jose, Sacramento, and San Francisco.

The initial five-day opening of Bass Pro Shops in October of 2008 drew in excess of 50,000 people. That was 15,000 less than the city’s population at the time.

It was the same year Big League Dreams opened that had an unbroken string of having every weekend booked for tournament play until the pandemic lockdowns hit. BLD draws from the same 100-mile radius market as did Bass Pro Shops.

The year 2008 was also when private sector demographers hired by the likes of Bass Pro Shops helped Manteca realize they were at the virtual center point between San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento that was the third largest 100-mile radius market behind Los Angeles and Long Island in New York.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email