Walmart expansion set to begin this month

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comSeptember 12, 2013 

COREY PRIDE/CPRIDE@LOSBANOSENTERPRISE.COM — Los Banos Enterprise Buy Photo

Dirt is scheduled to turn soon at 1575 Pacheco Blvd., as Walmart plans to begin its expansion to a supercenter this month.

Assistant Planner Stacy Elms recently told planning commissioners the city has extended the big-box store’s permit and it was clear to begin construction any day. .

Walmart previously had until July 4 to show the city’s building department that it was using the permit. Since that time Fire Chief and Building Inspector Chet Guintini has declared the project is far enough along in the planning stage for an extension on the permit.

Walmart spokeswoman Rachel Wall said the company’s construction schedule has the project scheduled before Oct. 1.

“Construction work on the expansion is anticipated to begin by the end of this month. We look forward to upgrading the store and expanding the offerings for our Los Banos customers,” she said. “The construction work on the expansion is expected to support about 100 temporary contract construction jobs over the coming year.”

The California Department of Transportation and the city have both been involved with the project because of the added traffic the store and future surrounding shops are expected to draw.

In September 2012 Caltrans expressed concerns that westbound motorists on Highway 152 will try to access the supercenter, and the three new shops expected to accompany it, by making left turns in front of traffic.

As a solution, Caltrans proposed an extended median starting on Highway 152 near Badger Flat Road and continuing to Stonecreek Boulevard. At the time, the city did not believe the median was necessary.

Wal-Mart’s first traffic plan was to extend Stonecreek Boulevard on the land north from Prairie Springs Road near the store. The land, which was owned by Stonecreek Properties, is in foreclosure. Wal-Mart cannot obtain permission to build the street.

A revised arrangement was approved. It included a traffic signal at the intersection of Stonecreek Boulevard and Highway 152 and adding left turn lanes on Badger Flat Road.

Walmart also agreed to contribute to funding for improvements at Pacheco Boulevard and West I Street and the Pacheco Boulevard and Mercey Springs Road intersection.

The Los Banos Walmart store employs about 225 associates. Eighty 85 employees will be added when the supercenter opens.

The Walmart supercenter will be 67,200 square feet larger than the current store and will include a larger grocery section, a full-service deli and a bakery. The project will be accompanied by three commercial retail spaces totaling 69,300 square feet. According to city records, the three spaces will be for restaurants and retail shops.

Enterprise staff writer Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 826-3831 ext. 6563 or cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

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