A decade or so ago when Amazon was shopping the Northern San Joaquin Valley for locations for distribution centers Manteca made it to the short list.
But because entitlements such as a master environmental impact report and development plans were already approved and in place on suitable locations in other nearby communities such as Patterson, Stockton, and Tracy that is where Amazon opened distribution centers.
And while Manteca now has an Amazon distribution center on North Airport Way in the CenterPoint project, it was out of the realm of possibilities six years ago.
That’s why the importance of such entitlements being approved can't be stressed enough.
Firms that need to build a complex to meet their needs want to be ready to move within six months after they make a commitment to a location.
That is where CenterPoint came into the picture.
One of the largest national developers of logistics complexes starting working with earnest with the city in 2010 in a bid to secure entitlements and extend infrastructure needed to develop 3.1 million square feet of distribution center space west of Airport Way and south of Roth Road on acreage that bordered the railroad tracks and Union Pacific’s intermodal facility. CenterPoint also projected there would ultimately be 600 direct jobs
CenterPoint first landed Crothall Laundry in 2013, then 5.11 Tactical in 2017, Penske Logistics (Lowe’s Home Improvement distribution center operator) in 2018 and Amazon this year. With it have come more than 700 direct jobs that CenterPoint project— which is not yet built out — would create.
The city is working to try and replicate the CenterPoint success along the Airport Way corridor north of Airport Way.
It includes a 4.9 million square-foot plus business park on 233 acres on the southwest corner of Airport Way and Louise Avenue directly south of the Manteca Unified School District office complex and the 585,580-square-foor Medline medical supplies distribution center.
Manteca, during their general plan vetting process, also wants to extend the city limits north of Roth Road and push for more employment centers heading north toward French Camp Road on the west side of Airport Way.
Getting a business park that can accommodate distribution centers like Amazon from a piece of paper to a project with entitlements where dirt can be turned to construct buildings is a long, drawn-out process.
Without entitlements in place it can take a year to 18 months to do exhaustive environmental studies. That is on top of the rest of the review process that typically takes an employment center three to five years to go from paper to the point dirt can be turned. That is too long in today's economy of on-time distribution to compete for jobs,
With a master development agreement in place that has already addressed everything from truck traffic and parking needs to sewer discharge, water use, and landscaping it means a developer putting together a pitch just needs to give the city staff specific impacts of the proposed user to determine if they fall within already approved parameters. That means the specific employer would not have to be subject to the EIR process which means it could move to construction within three to six months after committing
The only public review would be a specific site plan for the proposed employer. That involves a hearing before the planning commission. A planning commission decision on a specific site review plan can be appealed to the City Council. If not, the planning commission decision is final.’
During the Great Recession, while other nearby cities were trying to simply survive Manteca put a lot of time and energy into making sure CenterPoint kept moving forward.
Landowners and developers that worked with the City of Manteca took a page out of the Tracy playbook of the early 1990s. Tracy had spent time during the recession that started in 1989 not licking its wounds but working on putting in place developable land for job centers complete with entitlements.
That's why when the economy started picking up in the mid-1990s Tracy's McArthur Boulevard corridor landed the lion's share of new jobs brought to the Northern San Joaquin Valley via distribution centers and light manufacturing.
The trick now is for Manteca to not let the COVID-19 pandemic sidetrack its efforts to make the Airport Way a magnet for more jobs when the next Amazon-type complex starts shopping the Northern San Joaquin Valley to locate a distribution center.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org