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Around Tulare County

Milk,Movies & Mill Creek On Tap

Minnesota-based Milk Specialties Global plans to open a Visalia operation in the existing Provisions Foods plant on Divisadero, the former Kraft plant. The plant is equipped with drying and evaporating capabilities and Milk Specialties will install a proprietary membrane filtration system to process whey proteins. Provisions Foods will reportedly continue to produce cultured dairy products. Milk Specialties Global has published a request to hire an HR manager in recent days who would be in charge of overseeing up to 60 employees the notice says. A company spokesman said a news release would follow.

The company offers value-added whey protein isolates, hydrolysates and concentrates including  science-based nutrition products for the sport nutrition and healthy lifestyle industries as well as Milk Specialties Global Animal Nutrition is a leading supplier of functional fats, proteins and carbohydrates for livestock producers worldwide.

Milk Specialties has hired Jim Ford as its manager, the former plant manager at Mozzarella-Fresca in Tipton. That cheese plant is rumored to be closing in the new year with production shifted to Idaho although the company has refused to comment.

Provisions opened in 2007 when Kraft closed their cottage cheese plant there. Provisions manufacture blue cheese, cream cheese and yogurt from two family-owned farms – the DeGraaf families in the Pixley area.

Visalia shopping center owner DBO Development is in advanced discussions with three movie theater chains to open a multi-screen theater just east of Mooney at Cameron on the south end of town to anchor the next phase of their Packwood Creek Shopping Center. “We expect to have a commitment from one of the chains by February” says Patrick Orosco of DBO.

Orosco has been marketing the next phase of Packwood Creek – Visalia’s largest retail complex – called The Grove at Packwood Creek, a 25 acre,278,300 sf center on both sides of Cameron Ave with the help of Fresno-based Commercial Retail Associates. On the south side of Cameron,Orosco hope to land big box national tenants facing Costco and on the north side they hope to bring in a large cinema complex. Orosco confirms they are talking to Regal Cinemas who already operates both movie theaters in Visalia.

Orosco says while discussions with movie theater operators are well along none of the other potential retailers or eateries listed in the marketing materials are signed up yet and some are already likely to locate elsewhere if they come to town.

That includes Pollo Loco who recently filed a plan to locate on south Mooney next to BevMo. “This is like a wish list of prospects who might be interested incoming to town.” They include the fast food hamburger chain Five Guys,an East Coast favorite who is expanding in California.

The marketing materials,done in August for the ICSC trade show, also include Burlington Coat Factory who is now expected to locate next to the new Walmart (the former Costco) on South Mooney,not a part of the Packwood Creek center.
Orosco says the key anchor for The Grove will be the megaplex – well suited for the site offering acreage for the hundreds of cars need to park at one time. He maintains that Visalia is losing out to the Tulare’s Galaxy Theatre next to the outlet mall in Tulare because it is far newer than the Sequoia Mall 12plex, a 40,000 sf divided theater inside the mall with no visibility,no other nearby nightspot ( Borders closed in 2011) and very small theater sizes.

Dollar General
stores has signed a letter of intent to lease the former Harbor Freight store (9500 sf) on mid-Mooney Blvd and will move in the next few months.Broker Doug Burr adds that Harbor Freight relocated down the block to the former JoAnn’s Fabrics location, a larger 14,000 sf space.Dollar General has plans for large grocery type stores in Farmersville, Woodlake and Tulare. Also this week,Orosi joins the dollar store boom with the construction of a Family Dollar store at 12835 Ave 416.

Napa Auto Parts is working on a lease for 940 E Main,a long vacant 14,500 sf building owned by S.Pete Salerno. Pete says the building was originally the Toyota franchise showroom and has had plenty of users since. But it has been empty for long stretches  from 1993 to 2000 and again form 2009 till now. The last occupant was an auto parts store that went out of business all over California.But now another investor bought  the assets and hopes to re-open at this location and elsewhere under the Napa name.

City Council member Greg Collins says he is satisfied with the idea that Kaweah Delta board of directors presented to the council the other day that would mean that Mill Creek would need to be culverted west of Acequia for 2 blocks for a major building expansion if the hospital agrees to open the creek on the west end of their property near Johnson and Mineral King. The hospital might agree to removing a small parking lot to daylight the creek. ”It makes more sense to improve the area closer to Miki City Park where the creek is already opened up” agrees board member Jody Graves.The creek is mostly open as it travels west from here.

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