Visalia Mall to raze former bank building; across the street, new building erected to replace old Weatherby’s

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By Nancy Vigran
Special to the Sun-Gazette

VISALIA – The Visalia Mall is losing its outlying building this week, with demolition of the former bank building located on the southeast corner of the property along Mooney Boulevard.

Basically, it was just time. The building hasn’t seen a long-term lease since 2004, although it has seen use as a Halloween store during the fall months for many years. With its limited capabilities, “it is just better to start from scratch,” said Richard Feder, Visalia Mall’s general manager. The old building was not conducive for retail or a restaurant, he added.

There are plans for a future building on the site, but nothing will likely happen until after the first of the year, Feder said. The new building will be aimed to serve in a multitude of uses and will be designed with the potential of two separate clients in mind. It will sit further from Mooney Blvd. and Beech Ave. to follow City of Visalia regulations and will add landscaping.

Plans for the demolition went off without a hitch, said Jason Huckleberry, assistant director for the city’s development services department. Prior to demolition, the mall had to be given air board clearance and receive a demo permit. No specific requirements were needed. The new building plans will have to be approved prior to the beginning of construction. 

“The next step,” Huckleberry said, “will be for them to resubmit through our site planning a reprocess of what they intend to do.” They will need to meet the current setback and additional landscaping requirements, he added.

The 58-year-old mall remains a mainstay of Visalia shopping. It typically sees more 90% occupancy, currently at about 97%, or so. A few smaller spaces are currently available.

Another New Construction

Across Mooney Boulevard the former Weatherby’s Furniture property on the corner of Walnut Avenue has been renovated with a new building, and is taking shape. The outer shell is complete, and preparation for interiors through specific leases will start soon. The new building can accommodate three clients, said Patrick Orosco, a partner of the Orosco Group which is developing the site. The lot also has allotted for a multitude of parking spaces.

Permits will need to be filed and approved for each tenant’s interior space, Huckleberry said, before further work can begin.

One lease agreement has been signed with a quick-service restaurant, Orosco said, although he did not want to disclose the company name at this time. Plans are for that business to open before the end of the year.

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