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Planning Commission Public Hearing on Old Mervyn’s Building Tenant, Possibly a 24/7 Walmart

98,000 sq. ft. Walmart Supercenter on McHenry Avenue in Modesto.On Thursday, April 5th the Turlock City Planning Commission will be holding their monthly meeting at City Hall. During the meeting, the commission will hold a public hearing to consider a Minor Discretionary Permit to fill the vacancy at 2480 Geer Road, the old Mervyn’s building.

The applicant proposes to reuse the old Mervyn’s retail store, which is approximately 62,000 square feet, as a discount food and beverage grocery store. The new store may also have a pharmacy and general merchandise for sale such as paper goods, pet food and supplies, infant and toddler goods, cosmetics, home cleaning supplies, and automotive products.

As part of the Minor Discretionary Permit process, neighboring property owners must be notified of the potential change and given an opportunity to ask questions or express their concerns. Since the potential use calls for 24/7 operation, there have been several calls from neighboring property owners about the project after the City of Turlock sent out letters to the neighbors. Therefore, the project will be taken before the Planning Commission for a public hearing.

Changes to the existing building will require a new 10’ x 50’ masonry enclosed bale and pallet area, enlarged openings for the two existing loading docks and new exterior building lights. In addition, the project will have new refrigeration equipment and rooftop HVAC units, which the company plans to use sustainable products for the most energy and water efficiency.

The tenant has currently not been named, leading people to assume by reports of neighboring businesses to the old Mervyn’s building, current Wal-Mart employees, and the development community that a Wal-Mart store is to be opening at the location.

During a recent visit to a Public Administration class at CSU Stanislaus, Mayor John Lazar mentioned to the students, who were curious about new possible businesses coming to Turlock, that the tenant was indeed one of Wal-Mart’s grocery stores. Wal-Mart refers to these grocery store locations as Walmart Neighborhood Markets.

The City of Turlock has previously spent around $400,000 fighting Wal-Mart in court to uphold a 2004 Big Box ordinance, banning discount superstores within the City of Turlock.

The additional Wal-Mart store of 61,000 square feet in Turlock would not fall under Turlock’s Big Box ordinance, which bans discount superstores that exceed 100,000 square feet of floor area and devote more than 5 percent of the sales floor area to nontaxable merchandise, commonly referred to groceries.

The City Council has ordered a study as part of the general plan update to review the possibility of allowing discount superstores, which typically fall under the Big Box ordinance, in Turlock.

A Walmart Supercenter is not always a 200,000 square foot building, however, as one local Walmart Supercenter in Modesto fits into a 98,000 square foot building.

Walmart Neighborhood Markets are on average 42,000 square feet according to the Wal-Mart website. The old Mervyn’s building is approximately 62,000 square feet, making the Walmart Neighborhood Market a viable option as a tenant.

According to the Wal-Mart Stores website, their Neighborhood Markets offer a “quick and convenient shopping experience for customers who need groceries, pharmaceuticals, and general merchandise all at our famous Every Day Low Prices.” The first Walmart Neighborhood Market opened in 1998, and there are now currently 168 Walmart Neighborhood Markets nationwide, each employing an average of 95-100 employees.

Although there has been no official release by Wal-Mart or a tenant’s name given to the City of Turlock by the applicant, Inland Western MDS Portfolio, LLC, regarding filling the vacancy at the old Mervyn’s location on Geer Road, many community members are certain that the unnamed tenant is one of the Walmart Neighborhood Market stores.

The Planning Commission Meeting will start at 7pm, and will be held at City Hall located at 156 South Broadway.

To View the Planning Commission Meeting Agenda, please visit:
Turlock City Planning Commission Meeting Agenda