Multi-family construction doubles in Tulare

Payless in Porterville, Togos in Visalia replaced by new and familiar companies; development remains strong in Visalia

By John Lindt
Sierra2theSea News Service

TULARE COUNTY – There will be more housing in Tulare this year, but it won’t be due to new homes.

Construction has begun on the long-awaited assisted living project near Highway 99 and Cartmill Avenue. Being built under the direction of Tulare Bethel Church, Harmony Gardens Village has filed a $19 million permit for their 91-unit project. The property is south of Cartmill Avenue and north of the Tulare Outlet Center, between Highway 99 and Retherford Street. The $100,000 square foot development has been in the works for nearly two decades.

The project is just one of many slated for Tulare this year as the city’s building permits last year climbed from a valuation of $117 million in 2018 to $146 million in 2019. Commercial activity increased from $6 million in 2018 to $17 million in 2019. Commercial alterations were higher and multi-family construction value doubled as well. None of the increase was driven by new homes as the city saw permits for single family homes drop from 341 in 2018 to 331 last year. 

Retail Reinforcements
Visalia development remains in good shape and it is reflected in the city’s tax receipts. A report to council last week stated sales tax had a growth rate of 4%, property tax 6%, and business licenses 13%. Property tax continued on its upward trend as property values and growth continued in Visalia. Transient occupancy tax, also known as the bed tax or hotel tax, had a slight decrease of 0.6% for the year. Franchise utility fee revenue increased mainly due to increases in both gas and electricity. Business license revenue increased as gross sales and collection efforts remained strong.

Visalia’s empty Togo sandwich spot in Downtown Visalia will be backfilled by Maximo’s Taqueria at 423 W. Main St.

North Visalia will get a UPS retail shipping and copy store at the center next to Subway on Dinuba Boulevard. The new store will open in February. It is the third UPS retail store in town.

Porterville’s former Payless Shoe Source is closed but Bath & Body Works will take over the space says developer Dave Paynter who owns the center. The popular home goods retailer would be new to Porterville.

Homes Sales up 33%
Low interest rates boosted the housing market in second half of year as home prices posted strong gains in December, according to the California Association of Realtors. In Tulare County existing home sales were up 33% in 2019 versus 2018 and the median home price climbed to $252,000 from $236,450 a year earlier. That  sales volume increase was the highest in the Valley although sales on the Central Coast  were even higher increasing to 42% year over year. Statewide the median home price was $615,090, up 4.3% from November and up 10.3% from December 2018. For 2019 as a whole, sales of existing statewide homes were up 7.4% year over year.

Sales have been juiced by low interest rates. California Association of Realtors say the 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 3.72% in December, down from 4.64% in December 2018, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable mortgage interest rate was an average of 3.39%, compared to 4.02% in December 2018.

Money Trails
The Tulare County Association of Governments have released plans to fund two large trail systems in Porterville and Visalia. The Butterfield Stage Corridor in Porterville would be a Class I multi-use path that includes amenities such as solar lighting, drought tolerant landscaping, drinking water stations, refuse receptacles, benches, wayfinding, and controlled lighted crossings, and the installation of curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements to the east and west of the proposed corridor at various locations to improve accessibility. The budget is $21 million.

In Visalia, the existing Goshen Avenue Trail would get a $9.6 million rehab along 6 miles from Camp Drive to Giddings Street along Goshen Avenue alignment. The project will replace the existing 8 ft. wide deteriorated asphalt trail, elevate the trail to prevent future flooding and the extend existing trail from Miller Park Court west to Camp Drive. The project also includes installation of trail amenities such as solar lighting, park benches, trash receptacles an additional trees and irrigation.

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