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Trader Joe’s, Hobby Lobby eye Manteca
Major shopping center conference reveals strong interest in opening stores in Manteca
Trader Joe’s, Hobby Lobby
At least 25 businesses are interested in leasing vacant space at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley. - photo by Bulletin fie photos

 There’s no deals yet but now that Manteca has grabbed the attention of the retail world by surpassing 80,000 residents with strong growth expected to continue plus the fact it has landed a whale in the form of a Great Wolf Lodge breaking ground this summer, firms such as Trader Joe’s and Hobby Lobby are giving Manteca a serious look.
Mayor Steve DeBrum shared discussions he had at the International Council of Shopping Centers in Las Vegas — the world’s largest gathering of retail real estate professions — with representatives of various commercial concerns including Josh Poag whose firm owns The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley that’s anchored by Bass Pro Shops.
DeBrum at Tuesday’s council meeting related how Manteca representatives that included Planning Manager J.D. Hightower along with City Analyst Johanna Ferriera were told by professionals that work with companies to locate sites for new stores that Trader Joe’s and Hobby Lobby have taken a strong interest in locating stores in Manteca.
While that doesn’t necessarily translate into a store actually opening, it does mark the first time that representatives have expressed a strong desire to take advantage of the growing Manteca market, its favorable demographics, as well as the city’s central location between Tracy, Modesto, and Stockton.
DeBrum said they were told three or four different grocery stores also are now considering locations in Manteca. That is in addition to SaveMart that plans to anchor a new shopping center on the southwest corner of Main Street and Atherton Drive.
Commercial leasing agents in the greater Northern San Joaquin Valley region contacted by the Bulletin verified the upbeat prospects for new retail in Manteca. One noted it is similar to what happened in Tracy when that city surpassed 80,000 residents. All said the city’s steady 2 percent plus growth with the surge of more national home builders eager to build 9,000 plus housing units in various stages of approval in Manteca has caught the attention of national and regional retailers especially given how the South County is now seen as the primary benefactor of the lack of new traditional single family home construction in the Bay Area that a large number of households with six figure checks are clamoring to buy.
 DeBrum said Poag is in the process of trying to make a determination of what direction to go at Orchard Valley now that the company has modified its ownership.
The mayor shared the city’s frustration that there are 25 businesses that municipal staff is aware of that have been trying to either get information to lease or actually wanting to lease space at Orchard Valley. DeBrum said after returning from Las Vegas that Poag had the Manteca property manager contact the 25 businesses.
Before anything can go forward, Poag is in the process of trying to decide if they will stay with retail or switch gears and add apartment complexes on the site with existing empty space either going for neighborhood type of endeavors or possible office space. They are also in the process of trying to wrap up a legal issues connected with the project.
“Brick and mortar retail is alive and well,” Hightower told the council in relating his conversations.
Hightower noted the face of retail is changing, however, and that the trend is to smaller stores.
He said the message retailers are sending is that the “best way to capture customers is to put brick and mortar in place.”
As far as restaurants, the word at the ICSC according to DeBrum is that they are staying away from expanding in California to a large degree due to the state’s labor laws and the pending raise of the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Already the city has been told other retailers want to locate near the 130,000-square-foot Living Spaces Furniture Showroom/Warehouse that will be built along the extension of Atherton Drive connecting Airport Way and Union Road.  Interest has been expressed by both a drug store and a supermarket. The developer of the retail property along the extension of Atherton where construction has now started also has been in talks with a hotel that is interested in building there as well.
The mayor said Jimmy John’s, which is pushing to open a gourmet sandwich shop in the center where Bank of the West is located along Commerce off of East Yosemite Avenue is waiting on leasing documents.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email