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More office space, less homes
Yosemite Square 2.0 before council tonight
This is one of the original renderings of what office structures at Yosemite Square could look like. - photo by Rendering contributed

The Highway 99/120 Bypass interchange was once avoided like the plague by developers due to the smell of the Moffat Feed Lot and sugar pulp from the defunct Spreckels Sugar plant.

The prevailing winds would carry the odors most of the time in a southeastern direction over vineyards, orchards, and a now abandoned dairy.

The smell was so bad that people giving directions would mention it to motorists traveling through the area for the first time so they would know they were approaching the 120 Bypass exit even if they were driving in dense fog.

Now that the former sugar plant has been turned into a bustling 362-acre multi-use program with retail, restaurants, distribution centers and houses developers are betting the 120 Bypass/Highway 99 interchange will attract firms that want to locate office operations and even light industry at a high profile location given that close to 190,000 vehicles travel the two freeways each day. It is also a major route for Bay Area residents to go to and from the Sierra.

The location and the anticipation that the next economic wave will bring with it a demand for office-style space running the gamut from medical and dental offices to professional offices for concerns such as financial institutions have developers bullish on the 137.7-acre Yosemite Square Business Park. They have also revamped an original plan the city approved for the site to take advantage of future demand for office-style space.

The project on the northeast corner of the interchange is up for City Council approval tonight during a 7 o’clock meeting at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

Bill Filios and ANF Development are pursuing the project on land that is currently planted in almonds. The partnership was behind Spreckels Park and that gave Manteca Woodward Park for a dollar as well as played pivotal roles in Manteca landing Del Webb at Woodbridge and The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley.

It would consist of 31.2 acres of business industrial park uses that would accommodate up to 475,675 square feet in multi-story buildings on five parcels. The structures would be situated for freeway exposure along what would be the future northbound ramp from the future extension of the Highway 120 Bypass to the east and Highway 99 north.

To the north of the business park would be 8.6 acres medium density housing. The vision is for 103 attached and detached homes that share common courtyards and other configurations to offer a different housing lifestyle in Manteca.

There would be two parcels along the northern edge of the property and freeway bordering the El Rancho Mobile Home park. The 17.3 acres would accommodate 346 apartments or condos in two separate complexes.

Yosemite Square also includes 51.1 acres of single family housing between the office area and Austin Road. Some 306 traditional homes could be accommodated.

The zoning for the business industrial park is being proposed to accommodate neighborhood retail such as convenience stores, hair salons and such on the bottom floors.

The project includes two access streets to Austin Road including one heavily landscaped corridor leading directly to the business industrial park.

The business park would have a low earthen berm with evergreen trees to provide a buffer between the housing and non-residential uses. It would also serve to further buffer freeway noise.

Ultimately, Vasconcellos Avenue will tie into Yosemite Square when parcels to the north develop.

Filios has indicated that he expects the business industrial park to develop ahead of the housing. That’s based on not just what is being offered to employers but the fact there is more than adequate housing project approved elsewhere to meet market demand for the foreseeable future.

The design, though, anticipates that at some point future workers in Yosemite Square could live in the apartments or condos or even buy the homes.

Originally Yosemite Square was envisioned as a 217-acre project.  Because of the employment center demand that the developers anticipate, the original plan for 414 condos, 312 apartments, and 363 single family homes for 1,088 housing units overall was pared back.

Also the original proposal that had been approved previously by city called for only 314,000 square feet of office space. Besides eliminating about a quarter of the proposed housing to reduce the number of units down to 755 homes the developers increased proposed office space by just over 50 percent.