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Planned community’s rooftops mean retail opportunities for Lathrop as well as Manteca
river islands
River Islands ultimately will have 15,001 households.

Get ready for the “River Islands Effect.”

It is what the robust growth in the 15,001 home planned community can mean to both Lathrop and Manteca as well as a lesser degree to Tracy when it comes to future commercial growth.

That’s because the planned community’s commercial footprint is designed to concentrate on “town center” type retail, services, and restaurants.

The biggest commercial endeavor planned for River Islands to accommodate that ultimately will have two town centers and a transit center with retail are concerns such as supermarkets in the 20,000 to 40,000 square-foot range.

Cambay Group made a conscious decision not to seek big or medium box retailers.

Nor do they want traditional shopping centers with massive parking lots.

They want commercial/gathering areas that reflect the overall River Islands lifestyle that eschews wide streets and bolsters walkability

It is likely restaurants and even smaller shops that do end up in River Islands will draw patrons from the rest of Lathrop, Manteca and Tracy.

But when it comes to other retail — think larger endeavors such as a Lowe’s Home Improvement Center and such — the continued growth of River Islands will increase the attractiveness for Lathrop and even Manteca for larger retail to locate.

Even when a connection is made directly to Interstate 205 from River islands, Tracy’s larger retail will be farther away — and in more congested corridors — than in Lathrop or even Manteca along the 120 Bypass.

“(River Islands) residents shopping for furniture will likely visit Living Spaces and Ashley,” River islands CEO Susan Dell’Osso said. “They won’t think in terms of whether they are shopping in Lathrop or Manteca.”

Clearly, Lathrop will be a bigger benefactor from River Islands growth for larger supermarkets and similar stores given the area west of Interstate 5 and across the river from River Islands is growing as well.

But larger retailers could make a decision to locate in either Manteca or Lathrop to take advantage of the buying  power River Islands is adding.

That buying power is underscored by several things.

*Home sales have reached 500 this year and are on track to come close to last year’s 640. Almost all buyers are putting 20 percent down or more as they’re selling existing homes in the Bay Area with substantial equity

*Most homes are in the $750,000 to $950,000 range.

*River Islands now has 3,500 occupied homes and in excess of 11,000 residents.

Dell’Osso noted Manteca retailers — and those in Tracy — as well as Lathrop are already befitting from the 3,500 households.

Clothing is one big area.

“Bass Pro Shops sells a lot of clothes,” Dell’Osso said.

There is also JC Penney in Manteca and Macy’s in Tracy.

At these same time, discounters like Ross and TJ Maxx have stores in both Manteca and Tracy.

One of the bigger benefactors — and a major driver of sales tax for both Tracy and Manteca — is Costco.

Lathrop is unlikely to snare movie theaters anytime soon given the changing market nationally for movies. That said, it bodes well for existing cinemas in Manteca and Tracy that can benefit from River Island entertainment dollars.

Altogether, the three cities currently have a combined 215,000 residents.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email