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Luck mixed at neighboring north Modesto shopping centers

Two shopping centers planned for a corner of northwest Modesto offer two visions of today's economy: a glimmer of hope and a dose of reality.

At Pelandale Avenue and Chapman Road, builders are putting the finishing touches on Save Mart's new flagship store. It will anchor a seven-store shopping center.

On the piece of land directly to the north, development is on the back burner. The same development team that's building Save Mart just won a 14-year extension on plans to build another shopping center. The Planning Commission gave the developers until 2023 to complete construction on the 10-acre project.

Both sites are co-owned by entrepreneur Dan Costa and his partner, John Johansson. Both retail centers are part of the 60-acre NorthPointe Shopping Center complex, which includes Costco and Lowe's.

The two shopping center sites at Pelandale and Chapman have been in the city's pipeline since the late 1990s.

Back then, the city gave developers a 10-year target for completing construction on the 10-acre site to the north. A boom and bust later, Costa and Johansson were back in front of the Planning Commission, asking for another extension.

Tom Solomon of CoSol Commercial Real Estate, NorthPointe's leasing agent, attributed the extension to the slow economy.

"I guess it would be good old-fashioned supply and demand," Solomon said. "Right now we don't have any tenants large enough to start the second phase."

Developers once planned an 80,000-square-foot movie theater for the 10-acre shopping center to the north. That idea was scrapped in favor of general retail buildings. Solomon said he doesn't know how many stores the shopping center will include.

Brent Sinclair, the city's community development director, said long timelines aren't that unusual for shopping centers.

"It's a multiyear process, even under the best of times," Sinclair said. "The average shopping center takes five to seven years to build out."

The multiyear extension gives developers some breathing room, but it won't give them a break on fees. They'll pay whatever the current fees are when they break ground.

Meanwhile, activity is humming along at the future Save Mart store. It's scheduled to open Feb. 3, said Ray Agah, Save Mart's vice president of engineering and construction.

The store promises to be the "greenest" store in Stanislaus County, Agah said. Solar panels will provide power. Chilled water will provide refrigeration instead of ozone-depleting Freon. The store hopes to win shoppers with a cafe, deli, in-store banking and full-service pharmacy, Agah said.

Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at lalbrecht@modbee.com or 578-2378. Follow her at twitter.com/beereporter.

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