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Manteca buys Lowes site for $3.8M
Plans call for 150,000-square-foot county center
This would be the view looking west from the proposed county satellite center envisioned for Daniels Street east of Fishback Road. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Manteca taxpayers are spending $3.8 million to buy 10 acres of high profile, ready-to-develop land along Daniels Street just east of Fishback Road that had been bought by Lowe’s for a home improvement center.

If all goes well, San Joaquin County will opt to switch that site to build a satellite county center for land Manteca set aside earlier along Milo Candini Drive across from the Big League Dreams sports complex.

County officials have $660,000 set aide to do preliminary work for development plans they hope to tackle in the next several years. The preliminary vision calls for two buildings covering 150,000 square feet or roughly the same size of the 145,000-square-foot Lowe’s that had been proposed for the site.

The plan calls to locate satellite offices for human services, health services including a clinic, child support payments, agricultural commissioner, assessor, and tax collector to serve residents in the fast growing South County communities of Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, Tracy, and Escalon. It could create as many as 400 jobs.

 It is questionable whether courtrooms will be built there but if they are offices for the public defender, district attorney, sheriff’s department, and probation department will also be included in the complex.

Manteca beat out Tracy for the satellite center due in part to its location but also thanks to the deal Manteca made. The city agreed to sell a site to the county for $1 plus freeze building fees at the 2009 level at $1.5 million.

Once the Lowe’s site closes escrow, the deal approved by the council at a special meeting Monday will allow the county to switch to the new location and enjoy the same terms.

The 10 acres at one time sold for $12 a square foot or $5.52 million. Manteca is buying it for $8.72 a square foot.

Mayor Willie Weatherford cast the only dissenting vote. He believed the county would have been better off to stay put  and tap the $5 million in set aside redevelopment agency funds the city can still spend that was earmarked to help build a county satellite center. The way the current deal is structured, ultimately that RDA money will reimburse the two city accounts being tapped to pay for the land purchase now.

Manteca is using the last $3.1 million in bonus bucks collected for sewer connection certainty for residential projects plus $700,000 in wastewater treatment plant expansion fees.

Both will be paid back when the state authorizes the use of the RDA money to go toward the land purchase. If for some reason that doesn’t work, the 10 acres or the 8.3-acre site on Milo Canidni Drive will be sold and the two accounts reimbursed.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin said the land swap in regards to the county deal would allow the site across from BLD to be developed as a hotel or so other compatible use with the 140-acre family entertainment zone the city is trying to create. That is in addition to a 30-acre Great Wolf Resort. Great Wolf would include 400 hotel rooms, a conference center, and an indoor water park.