Retail Stores Ready to Open in Atwater

7/18/2008 Atwater, CA Developers started investing in this area during the housing boom. But despite the economic slowdown, the city is still optimistic about its future.

Drive down Highway 99 through Atwater, and you'll notice a whole new landscape in the once rural area. The most striking difference is the sprawling Applegate Ranch Shopping Center. It includes a Super Target that's expected to create 200 jobs, bring in new property taxes, and lure shoppers from across the county.

Scott McBride, Atwater Dir. of Economic Development, says "We anticipate very good sales tax returns from this outlet. We're thinking it might be close to a half million dollars a year. Those funds go directly for public services."

And the Super Target isn't the only big draw. This center will have about 60 new stores when it's complete, including a Chili's restaurant, Petco, Big 5 Sporting Goods, and Marshalls.

Darlene Dover just opened a new clothing store nearby and says business is already booming. But she's anticipating even more activity once Super Target opens its doors.

Darlene Dover, "Envy Fine Clothing" Owner, says "I think it's going to quadruple. I think it will make a lot more foot traffic. Right now we're busier at night, all the way until 8 or 9 o clock. I think with target opening and all the other stores, we'll be busy from the time we open till the very end."

City officials started planning for this surge in commercial development 15 years ago by putting the infrastructure in place. And now they're preparing for another growth spurt that's expected to bring the population to 40 thousand over the next twelve years.

McBride says, "We're working on plans right now for redesigning the Applegate interchange which serves this area. We're also working on the Atwater-Merced expressway which would be between Atwater and Merced."

City officials admit tough economic times have had an impact on this area. The Home Depot that was supposed to be built next to Super Target has decided to pull out. But several other stores are still on their way, and Super Target will hold its grand opening on July 27th.

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