Visalia Development

April 15, 2008 7:27:03 AM PDT
The Visalia Planning Commission has some big decisions to make. They're voting on whether a new hotel, gas station and restaurants should be part of a large business development planned off of Plaza Drive and Highway 198.Right now, there are several large parcels of empty land. Developers hope to turn the area into a thriving business park.

Drivers often pass by vacant land on their way to Highway 99 from Visalia's Industrial Park. Local developers hope that soon, those cars will have a reason to stop there. Plans for a hotel, gas station, several restaurants or fast food joints and plenty of office space have already been drawn up. The Chamber of Commerce says the area can use this type of development and the more than 1200 jobs it's expected to bring.

Nancy Lockwood, Visalia Chamber of Commerce, says, "The Industrial Park has about 5,000 employees and there are virtually no services. There's one gas station, one hamburger place, one Mexican food place. They desperately need services out there."

The land will also be home to private, Christian-based Fresno Pacific University's new satellite campus. City Councilmember Greg Collins is against the Plaza Drive development. He says the project will cause congestion, drive business away from downtown, and compete with the city's East Downtown redevelopment project.

Greg Collins, says, "The East Downtown development is wishing to attract hotels and office users and of course this particular proposal is also wishing to attract the same folks."

City planner Paul Scheibel says the project has been in the works since 1991, when the city zones the land for office space with high quality architecture. Scheibel says, "These offices are not your standard industrial offices nor are the restaurant pads and the like. They are all thematically similar."

The Planning Commission meeting starts at 7pm, Monday night at the Visalia City Council chambers on 707 Acequia Ave. If the project goes forward it will go to the city council where they will have final approval. If all goes as planned, developers could break ground on the project this summer.


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