More turn over on Mooney

Rite Aid closes but two other vacancies on Mooney Boulevard may see new businesses under new ownership this year

VISALIA – Lost in the hustle of the holidays was Rite Aid’s announcement it will close 63 stores in 2022, and one of them will be on Mooney Boulevard in Visalia.

Rite Aid will close its Mooney Boulevard drug store Jan. 19, 2022 according to the store manager. The 21,440-square foot storefront at 2727 S. Mooney is already listed for lease on the real estate website LoopNet.com.

Rite Aid announced on Dec. 21, 2021 that it would close 63 stores in a cost-cutting move designed to help the pharmacy chain be more competitive reporting that it is “conducting a rigorous assessment of its store base and has implemented a store closure program.” The company expects more closures to be announced over the next several months.

The news came during Rite Aid’s release of its third quarter financials, which reported a net loss of $36.1 million compared with a net income of $4.3 million in the third quarter of 2020. The pharmacy chain is expecting net losses between $189 and $230 million in 2022. Total store count at the end of the third quarter was 2,488. The closures, which began in November, are expected to generate $25 million in earnings for investors.

“Today, we also announced the first phase of a store closure program to reduce costs, drive improved profitability and ensure that we have a healthy foundation to grow from, with the right stores in the right locations, for the communities we serve and for our business,” Rite Aid president and CEO Heyward Donigan said in a released statement.

The closure will leave two Rite Aid stores in town in east and west Visalia. The store manager said “we just found out” about the closure despite California law that requires a 60 day notice to employees. Rite Aid did say “Associates impacted by these store closures are being offered the opportunity to transfer to another store.”

Former Goodwill, Union Bank on Mooney

Just up the road, plans have been filed to remodel the Goodwill store at 2240 S. Mooney Blvd. into a senior center. George Ouzounian is the owner of the property. Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a national program sponsored by the federal government through Medicare to enable individuals who are at risk of moving into a nursing home to continue to live safely in their homes and communities. The center would be a day-use facility to help these people. Construction of the facility would be complete in March 2024. The project would employ 80 full- and part-time employees. Once enrolled as a participant, the PACE provider coordinates all Medicare, Medical and other payments to the participant’s care and service providers. Even though the program’s services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the facility operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as a daily care center. PACE services are delivered in participant’s homes, in the community and at the PACE facility in order to help the senior live independently in their home and community.

At the corner of Mooney and Walnut Avenue, the vacant Union Bank building is officially for sale through the real-estate firm CBRE. The bank closed in Visalia last year. Sources say the bank is unlikely to be reused as-is since it has no set-back from Mooney. The 5,759-square foot building was posted for sale just this week. The asking price was not listed. The property sits next to the Visalia Mall who will likely be a bidder.

Riggin Avenue widening on deck

Now that more development is coming along Riggin Avenue in the Visalia Industrial Park, the city has been put on notice of the need to widen and improve the roadways in that part of Visalia. Assistant city manager Nick Mascia says they have been planning to widen Riggin to four lanes this year from Kelsey, where Amazon is, to Shirk Road. Plans are also in the works to widen Riggin in segments all the way to Mooney. Mascia says what is new is the need to widen smaller streets north of Riggin including Avenue 320 (Kibler Avenue), American Avenue and others with several million square feet of projects on the drawing board.

“We are seeking federal grants to help us out,” Mascia said.

The single mile of improvements involves the reconstruction of a two-lane stretch between Kelsey Street and Shirk Street to accommodate a four-lane arterial street with 110 feet of total right-of-way. Improvements would include new 12-foot vehicular travel lanes, Class II bike lanes, street lighting, landscaped medians, a bus turnout, fire hydrants, sewer line, traffic signal, and curb returns at all involved intersections. Riggin has become a busy truck corridor after the new Betty Drive interchange was completed connecting the industrial park to Highway 99.

In other news

Legendary neighborhood bar—also known as the town’s best dive bar—will be changing hands this month. The Pump House bar at 1075 E. Main St. in Visalia will get new owners as Jacob Gayer and Nathaniel Cary will now manage the popular watering hole, according to a public notice.

Demo of the property is underway at 1145 S. Lovers Lane to make room for a new Jack N The Box drive-thru at the northwest corner Lovers Lane and Tulare Ave.

Cal Water has filed notice to the city that an AT&T communication tower on the Giddings Avenue water tank will be relocated. According to the plans, Cal Water will take down the landmark water tower next to Redwood High School as part of the project. Cal Water has not said when this could happen.

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