It’s fitting that 5.11 Tactical is opening in Manteca’s centennial year just as the city is being positioned to embark on the biggest job creation binge in its history.
The firm’s name is derived from the mountain climbing rating system founder Royal Robbins created with 5.11 being the most difficult peak to climb in Yosemite National Park.
Manteca, as Mayor Steve DeBrum pointed out Wednesday with the 404,000-square-foot 5.11 Tactical distribution center that is expected to open next month looming behind him, has scaled what many believe is the roughest regulatory clearance in the United States — California’s environmental review process. The snagging of the firm that supplies uniforms and tactical equipment for military, law enforcement, and public safety plus others projects underway in Manteca is the pinnacle of nearly 10 years of working with the private sector, and investing in municipal infrastructure while painstakingly working through California’s laborious environmental review processes. That pinnacle is setting the stage for unparalleled job growth not just in the red hot distribution center market but in carving a niche no other 209 jurisdiction can claim — making Manteca a destination resort city.
“It’s like what Jon Beckman (of the Building Industry of the Delta) said at Tuesday’s council meeting after I said, ‘you measure twice and cut once’,” DeBrum said. “Beckman pointed out, in California we don’t just measure twice and cut once but we measure a dozen times before we can cut’.”
Just to the north of 5.11 Tactical along Airport Way, CenterPoint is working feverishly to get a 544,000-square-foot spec building — the first part of a footprint that ultimately will have 1.2 million square feet — in place. They are being tight-lipped about who they are working with but they have three firms interested in leasing the space that is just a few miles from Stockton Metro Airport, a short drive to two major freeways and is next door to Union Pacific’s intermodal facility from truck-to-train traffic.
Between the two projects on Airport Way, a 286,072-square-foot spec building going up in Spreckels Park on a parcel that backs up to the Highway 99 northbound transition ramp to the westbound 120 Bypass and for a 585,000-square-foot spec building being built in the Pacific Business Park Avenue on Louise Avenue next to the Manteca Unified district office complex there is more than 2.4 million square feet of spec building being constructed in Manteca today.
To put the 2.4 million square feet within a year in perspective, that’s more than all of the square footage in the business park portion of Spreckels Park that took a decade to build.
And just like with Spreckels Park, Manteca’s timing is impeccable.
It completed critical regulatory clearance, put critical sewer and water in place and got the ball in motion to break ground on other key draws for job generators including two new interchanges just as the economy started heating up. The added bonus is the federal tax changes that are prompting business to significantly increase investment for expansion.
In today’s economy, corporations want to move quickly which is why you have to have either spec building in place or ready to break ground to snag tenants.
DeBrum said in talking with Tracy’s elected officials the spurt in distribution center development now taking place on the east side of that city along Interstate 205 and in the massive business park on Tracy’s western flank is also the result of 8 to 10 years of groundwork that had to be completed before construction could start.
Illustrating that is the eight years the city has invested in trying to secure a destination indoor water park resort that, if everything proceeds as planned, could be a done deal as spring dawns in Manteca.
“That’s 1,500 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs,” DeBrum noted of what Great Wolf would bring with a 500-room hotel along with a 109,767-square-foot indoor water park, and other amenities.
While there will be a number of head-of-household jobs, DeBrum said all the jobs will be welcome.
“We are working on more head of household jobs,” DeBrum said. “Manteca needs all kind of jobs.”
The bid to secure more employment centers to base jobs in Manteca actually has its roots in the mid-1990s. That’s when previous councils made long-range decision to secure surface water as well as put a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant in place that can easily be expanded.
Work on new interchanges along the 120 Bypass started as far back as 2004 with one — Union Road — expected to break ground later this year and the McKinley Avenue interchange next year.
The long gestation period reflects major environmental hurdles that have to be cleared as well as the funding needed that — depending upon the interchange — can typically run as high as $40 million. More complicated endeavors such as the Caltrans solution for the Highway 99-120 Bypass-Austin Road interchange project can top $82 million.
DeBrum pointed out the city for years has been working to balance housing with jobs for years. The surge in employment center construction now underway is a direct result of that effort.