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City of Tulare welcomes chain business boom

City of Tulare welcomes chain business boom

New chain stores begin locating to the city of Tulare bringing the potential of increased tax dollars and jobs 

By Nancy Vigran
Reporter for The Sun-Gazette

TULARE – Tulare is all a-buzz. And, in a good way. There’s a lot of new business coming in the works. New business not only makes shopping easier, but adds jobs and tax dollars to the city.

“We do have a lot of things going on right now,” said Josh McDonnell, director of economic and community development. “It’s actually pretty exciting.”

Deputy director Traci Myers went on to explain.

At what has been deemed the “old Mervyn’s” location in the Monte Vista Shopping Center on Hillman St., new stores have opened. The California-based Mervyn’s department store chain folded almost a decade ago. Harbor Freight Tools and Dollar Tree have recently occupied the space, opening about six weeks ago.

Also coming to that area are Ross and DD’s Discounts, which is owned by Ross, utilizing the former K-Mart store having closed two years ago. They are scheduled to open around the end of September. Joining them will be Aldi market, Myers said, which is scheduled to open some 60-90 days following. The first for Tulare County, Aldi is a chain of discount grocery stores based in Illinois. The company has 1,600 stores within 35 states, with two stores in Bakersfield. It is also developing stores in Porterville and Hanford.

Habit Burger is taking on the old Long John Silver’s location on Prosperity, and has started making improvements.

Filling another long-term empty building, Radiant Church of Visalia is in the process of purchasing the Linder Hardware building on K Street with plans for a small congregation. But, potential further development to the facility may include other things such as a coffee house, Myers noted.

Then there is the new strip mall being built on Cross and J streets. Approved by council in early March, the Orosco Group started that building site shortly after. Located to the northeast of downtown, it brings a second Starbucks to Tulare as a small anchor tenant. Starbucks is working on their tenant improvements. Additional tenants coming to the site have yet to be announced.

Also coming to Tulare is a Planet Fitness with nearly 20,000 square feet at Bardsley Ave. and Blackstone St. near Highway 99, Planet Fitness already has locations in Visalia and Porterville.  Plans have also been filed for a Jack in the Box at Mooney Blvd. and Bardsley Ave.

Rallys and Checkers have been reaching out to city officials with sincere interest, Myers said. No exact location or definite plans are yet in the works.

It is not just luck that has Tulare in the sights of so much development and retail action. “There has been a lot of housing activity,” Myers said.

Last year, the city awarded 191 housing permits from January through July. This year, to date, it has accepted 215. Last year in the same seven months, nine multi-family housing units were permitted. Through July of this year, 22 have been awarded. Each permit has four units associated with it, she said.

In part, the city attributes its hiring of the Braxton Group, to consult in drawing business to Tulare. Based in Texas, Tulare’s project manager actually lived in Exeter and is familiar with the area, which helps, Myers said. Braxton provides extensive research into matching local demographics to appropriate businesses for the area. Armed with that information complemented by housing growth, Myers, along with Tulare Chamber CEO Donnette Silva Carter, are on their way to the International Council of Shopping Centers Western Conference in Los Angeles this October.

“A lot of housing development lends itself to more retail growth,” Silva Carter said. And, the larger chains bring “more shopping traffic” to the smaller stores as well, she said, adding there are and will be quite a few part and full times jobs to fill also.

On the heels of several years with a budget deficit, Tulare welcomes the sales tax revenue. While it may not have a substantial effect on the budget, it helps, said Willard Epps, Tulare’s interim city manager, adding that it is difficult to anticipate the number of those tax dollars until they start coming in. He also commented the opportunity for employment for Tulareans is welcomed.

“Everything we can do to better our community in Tulare, we will do,” Epps said. “I, myself, think we’re on an uphill swing and we’re going to continue to build Tulare.”

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