Big-box grocery store coming to Livingston

LIVINGSTON -- A new big-box grocery store is coming to town, and city officials think the addition will spur more development in the area.

Rancho San Miguel Markets, which has locations in Merced, Stockton, Lodi and Madera, will set up shop in Livingston soon on the northeast corner of B Street and Winton Parkway.

The project has been approved since 2006, but a lawsuit between Rancho San Miguel and the developer delayed the process.

Councilman Gurpal Samra said the 55,000-square-foot grocery store will benefit the city in several ways besides jobs and tax revenue -- he expects the store to keep local shoppers in Livingston and help attract more business. "It will have a huge impact to the city," he said. "We've been looking for an anchor store."

It's a strong possibility that the store will garner waves of customers, which could encourage other companies to locate nearby, Samra said. "This will provide jobs," he said. "It will provide much needed stimulation of the economy."

Many Livingston residents routinely drive to Turlock or Merced to do their grocery shopping -- a hassle they won’t have to deal with once Rancho San Miguel opens its doors, Samra said.

"We had some local stores, but people wanted a change for groceries," he said, adding that when he drives to Turlock or Merced for groceries, it isn't abnormal to see other Livingstonians there, who consider their city to be a "food desert."

The Winton Parkway area has drawn interest from other companies, including Cafe Fresh, a restaurant chain that brands itself as a healthy alternative to fast food. The company will soon locate in the TravelCenters of America building, said Donna Kenney, Livingston's community development director.

Taco Bell also plans to locate in the same part of town soon, and will go before the Livingston Planning Commission on Dec. 13 for a site design review, Kenney said.

"It seems like all over town we are getting a lot of interest in vacant lots," she said. "I'm thinking the development community is waking up."

Moreover, when big companies locate in an area, it's common for them to bring along others, and it’s possible that Rancho San Miguel could be followed by an Auto Zone, Kenney said.

Representatives from Rancho San Miguel Markets couldn't be reached for comment by the Sun-Star's deadline Thursday.

City officials said it's still too early to anticipate when Rancho San Miguel might open its doors in Livingston.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsunstar.com.