A seven-acre plot of land at Betty Drive east of Highway 99 in Goshen will soon become a major source of tax income for Tulare County, as developers rush to capitalize on the newly completed freeway interchange.
“We’re breaking ground for a new development here in the county,” said Lucky Thandi, president of Valley Fuel and a member of the family behind the project. “It’ll be a truckstop company along with Chevron brand gas and at least two franchises, major food chains.”
Work on the project–Valley Travel Plaza–officially got underway with a ceremony Monday, March 11, held in newly cleared land and attended by County officials, local residents and those who have worked since 2014 to make the development a reality.
When completed, the business complex should become a significant new source of revenue for Tulare County.
“I think it’s a great project, great for the county. It’s going to be great for the community of Goshen,” said Tulare County Supervisor Amy Shuklian. “With the new Betty Drive Interchange, folks taking it to get into Visalia and the industrial park, it’s what part of this was all about.”
It’s also about putting money into the county’s coffers, and improving the area in general, she said.
“That’s always a good thing, not just the increased sales tax, but the parcel value and all that,” Shuklian said. “That’s what the county runs on. It’s for public safety, for all kinds of projects, so that’s always a good thing.”
Supervisor Eddie Valero, who represents the Goshen area on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, praised the project for bringing opportunities, resources and growth to the area.
“Your establishment will continue to help the development of this community,” he said.
Goshen resident Melinda Matheny is thankful Valley Fuel and the Thandi family have decided to expand their business near her home. And she hopes the new construction is a sign of things to come.
“I’m pretty excited. We’ve been lacking a lot of access to things in this area,” she said. “We have to drive all the way into Visalia or Hanford, which is significant miles considering we need simple things.”
When the Valley Travel Plaza is complete, it could even mean a reduction in the cost of living for those who call Goshen home, Matheny said.
“We’ll have more options. It’ll be hopefully competitive gas prices,” she said. “Now, we won’t pay an arm and a leg compared to inside of town.”
A Dollar General has already opened in Goshen, and an AM/PM convenience market and gas station is planned in an area across the street from the plot that will soon become Valley Travel Plaza.
Thandi says his company’s development will include a wide variety of services for travelers, specifically for drivers of large commercial vehicles.
“It will definitely be at least a sandwich shop and a coffee shop. That’s our goal. And a mechanic shop, a tire shop for the big truckers, and a scale serving big rigs,” he said. “It’ll be fleet fueling, at least two or three different kinds, and a truck wash also.”
The project has grown significantly in scale since it was first proposed in 2014.
“This has been a great effort,” said Aaron Bock, planning director for Tulare County. “It’s a lot more complicated than when we started out.”
When finished, the project will constitute a business campus covering the entire seven-acre site.
“We should be offering here at least three major buildings, one from 11,000 to 15,000 square -feet, and another 7,000 to 8,000, and another one for about 6,000,” Thandi said. “This should be a complete setup for the 99 north- and southbound. Pretty much all the needs truckers can demand for, including showers, anything we can imagine we’ll try to put into this one.”
The Goshen site will be Valley Fuel’s second truckstop.
“This will be our second location. We have a first one, it’s a small one compared to this one, in Tipton,” Thandi said. “So this will be one of the big ones we’re building right now, consisting all pretty much under our own eye. Meaning I’ll be managing this whole project myself with the general contractor.”
When complete, the Valley Travel Plaza should employ 45 to 50 full- and part-time workers.
Thandi said work on the project should be complete before the end of the year.
“We are hoping six to eight months maximum from here,” he said. “That’s our goal.”