Distribution and warehousing are spurring job growth in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
Companies ranging from Amazon, Home Depot, JC Penney, In-n-Out Burger, Ford, Honda, Restoration Hardware, and more are drawn by the proximity to 18 million consumers within 100 miles as well as the relatively lower land value and cost of doing business.
While the pay is typically good, distribution normally yields only about 10 jobs per acre. It also generates truck traffic — a lot of truck traffic.
“Distribution are the easiest jobs to land in this area,” noted River Islands at Lathrop Project Manager Susan Dell’Osso.
The 4,800-acre planned community that will start selling the first of 10,800 homes in May includes a 400-acre business park.
Well aware that other efforts in nearby communities to snag so-called white collar back office jobs and those of a high tech nature have been dismal at best, Cambay Group has elected for a long-range strategy that forgoes relatively quick returns for results that will bring employers that fit into the River Islands vision.
That vision includes
• offering employers a variety of nearby housing options ranging from condos to executive housing.
u creating a lifestyle conducive to drawing desired employees with a community aimed at enhancing family lifestyles and that of younger people.
• creating a community where people can both work, live, and play without enduring long daily commutes.
• being able to bring people to the community to work with minimum impact on traffic.
• keeping truck traffic at a minimum.
The drive to keep trucking at the lowest possible level while creating the most jobs is a mantra that’s cast in stone.
Heavy trucking obviously doesn’t dovetail well into a residential community where the emphasis is on making it easy for people to get around by walking, bicycling, or even taking paddle boats to cross man-made lakes to get to work.
It also is a great way to undermine efforts to get the most jobs per acre.
“Other employers that offer more jobs tend not to locate next to distribution because of the trucks,” Dell’Osso said.
It is why the Cambay Group submitted — and got approved — a condition in their development agreement with the City of Lathrop that the business park would need to generate 40 jobs per acre. That eliminates distribution and forces planning and marketing to go after white collar jobs.
And while it may take a while, Cambay Group is convinced those jobs will come to the valley and that they will be positioned to snag them.
The developer has the patience to do that given it has been 27 years and well in excess of $200 million to get River Islands to the point that the first home is finally being built.
Cambay Group, though, is leaving nothing to chance.
$5,000 economic fee to snag jobs
They are already aggressively marketing the business park and are putting in place the main road and infrastructure serving the business park on the eastern end of the community long before even getting the first nibble from a prospective employer.
Also each home sold will be charged fees that will be used to write down the cost for future employers connecting to water and sewer and other upfront costs. That is designed to make River Islands more enticing and to underscore the planned community’s tying of housing to jobs.
Issuance of building permits for each residential unit — single family homes or condo —will require the payment of a $5,000 economic development fee beyond the usual fees for parks, sewer, water, schools and other infrastructure.
Ultimately, $44 million will be collected to be used by River Islands working in conjunction with the city. Four out of every five dollars collected will go exclusively to efforts to entice employers. It may be used to help pay down or cover the cost of sewer and water connection fees or to help with the upfront costs of locating in River Islands at Lathrop’s 400-acre business park.
The other $1,000 of every $5,000 residential unit fee will go to Lathrop for use in improving infrastructure such as streets and parks.
Possible ACE stop is an additional lure
Cambay believes the ability to help reduce the cost of locating in the business park will give the Lathrop location an additional edge over the Bay Area and even other Northern San Joaquin sites companies may consider.
The advantages River Islands at Lathrop will offer employers include:
• lower land costs than the Bay Area.
• infrastructure that is already in place including water and sewer.
• amenities such as being able to walk to work and having desirable home sites for executives and key personnel nearby.
• close proximity to the Bay Area.
• access to major transportation including nearby Altamont Corridor Express train service, Stockton Metro Airport, and access to Interstate 5 and Highway 99.
Actually, if negotiations for future ACE track end up going for an option that skirts Tracy to the north, River Islands would end up with its own ACE stop right at the front door of the employment center.
The new ACE track is designed to serve as a future connector for California’s high speed rail trains between San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento.
The business park is targeting smaller and medium-sized employers.