A Tulare development two decades in the planning is about to start.
“We’re trying our best to start construction as soon as possible,” said Ted Lim, a spokesman for The Orosco Group based in Monterey.
The project, a strip mall at the southwest corner of Cross Ave. and J St., has long been a dream for Chris Orosco. At the March 6 Tulare City Council meeting an agreement was made for the formerly city-owned property to be sold to Orosco Group.
“We’ve been working on this project, if you can believe this, for over 20 years,” Orosco said. “I, myself, personally have been working on this project for 17 years.
“This is a very small project in the grand scheme of things . . . the reason for the delay has been timing. This is an infill development in downtown Tulare, on the west side of Tulare, during the timeframe when all of the development was occurring on the northeast section of the city and Prosperity. And, for the tenants who we tried to attract to the site, really the focus was those other areas.
“Infill development on the west side of Tulare has, unfortunately, been overlooked. We have been champions of this project in trying to promote it and we have had at least a dozen tenants who have expressed interest in it and then, unfortunately, later passed on the site because of higher priorities. . . But, at this point in time I understand that we have gotten to a finish line, which is really just the starting point for the development phase.”
The closing of the sale of the property was to occur within days of the council meeting. The Orosco Group has attracted Starbucks to express interest in the site, which is a “small tenant, and not really considered an anchor tenant at only 1,800 square feet,” Orosco said, “but, of course, everybody knows the name.”
The company feels that with the Starbucks name, it should be able to attract others to the new development.
Why there is now a hurry, after 20 years in the making, is that the deadline for completion for Starbucks is August, Orosco said.
Following the meeting, Councilman David Macedo commented that the ups and downs of the economy played a role in the delay of the development. Macedo has been on council throughout the 20-year time period and has watched the potential project waiver.
“It came really close in 2008-2009 and they had a tenant at that time,” he said, but it was postponed. “They’ve kept it alive for all of these years.
“Starbucks will be a good edition to that side of town. Starbucks does their homework when they pick a spot,” he added, indicating that the company wouldn’t be interested if they didn’t feel it would be profitable.
The development could also aid in the attraction of other downtown offices and buildings available for lease.
The Orosco Group has already solicited bids and selected its lead construction company, Lim said.
“They’re ready to mobilize as soon as we pull the permits,” he added.
The Orosco Group is no stranger to Tulare County.
It is responsible for the Packwood Creek Shopping Center in South Visalia and is currently working on a project on the corner of Mooney Blvd. and Walnut Ave., having purchased the property and demolished the old Weatherby Furniture building.
It has hired BJ Perch Construction as the lead construction company for that development. That project is expected to be completed by late spring to early summer.