Visalia studies possible expansion of the Industrial Park

There are still more than 2,000 acres of industrial zoned property left unoccupied by large-scale warehouses that have moved in the industrial park en mass

VISALIA – The recent warehouse/distribution center boom has forced the city to consider adding more land for future industrial sites.

At its March 21 meeting, the Visalia City Council discussed spending $60,000 on an Industrial Land Inventory Analysis that could result in expansion of the industrial park that has been experiencing rapid growth. Among the goals of the study is to assess the supply of industrial zoned land and market potential, identifying possible properties to plan for future industrial and necessary infrastructure considerations. Ideally, the analysis will also identify potential industrial tenants that could be attracted to Visalia.

It took 60 years, 1958 to 2018, for the Visalia Industrial Park to get to 16.6 million square feet but could double that within the next few years. Already under construction is a 1 million-square foot distribution hub for Ace Hardware, one of two proposed 1 million-square foot warehouses north of Riggin, and a few smaller but still large warehouses planned for Fowler Packing, LA-based YS Industries, and a project by national developer Seefried Industrial Properties. 

Councilmember Greg Collins was concerned about sprawl and said he was not in favor of looking at more industrial land because there is still industrial zoned land available. Community Development Director Paul Bernal said there is still 1,100 acres in the city’s Tier I boundary, the land nearest to city center, and 1,000 acres remaining in Tier III land, furthest from the city center, which includes property both inside and outside the city limits. The city does not have any Tier II property. 

Any changes to the amount of industrial zoned land would also require a General Plan Land Use Update, adding $150,000 to the cost of adding more industrial land to the city’s footprint. 

“I think you are asking for trouble, and certainly $150,000 is pretty expensive when you are looking for trouble,” Collins said. 

Both costs were part of the council’s review of the six-year capital improvement plan budget which will not be officially adopted by the council until June. 

Riggin widening on deck
Councilmember Brett Taylor asked if the study would consider infrastructure, such as roads, as part of any future expansion and build out of industrial properties. 

While the analysis study will not actually look at roads, Bernal said roads would be part of any discussion when development occurs. But staff is working to keep up with roads running through the Industrial Park. Construction is underway on Riggin Avenue in the industrial park as well from Kelsey to Shirk. 

At its April 19, 2021 meeting, the city council directed staff to submit an application to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to acquire additional funding for the construction of the “Riggin Widening Project” from Kelsey Street to Shirk Street. The city requested $4 million for the widening project. The application is currently in review with EDA with a tentative award timeframe in late Summer 2022.

City crews are also rushing to widen another leg of Riggin to four lanes between Mooney and Conyer, according to an environmental notice. 

Burger King on Riggin
Staying on Riggin, a new Burger King restaurant is in the works near Mooney. The fast food chain will build a 3,376 square foot restaurant  located at 2050 W Riggin Ave., according to a pending city permit. This would be the fifth Burger King in Visalia with other locations spread out across the four corners of the city. 

Burger King sales nationwide were up nearly 16% in 2021, according to its parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which also owns Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Canadian chain Tim Hortons and Firehouse Subs. “I’m proud of the strong performance our brands delivered as we closed out 2021,” RBI CEO José Cil said in last month’s report to investors. “During the quarter, we saw sequential improvements in each brand and around the world, including notable growth at Tim Hortons Canada and Burger King U.S.”

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