MARTINEZ -- The first new commercial complex built in Martinez in more than a decade is scheduled to open later this month.
The 15,500-square-foot shopping center sits on a formerly vacant 1.5-acre site on Arnold Drive where the popular pumpkin patch and Christmas tree lot used to appear every year.
The shopping center includes a drive-thru Starbucks, Verizon and Dollar Tree. Although developer Bill Schrader said he has a signed letter of intent with a national chain restaurant to fill the last space in the shopping center, he doesn't want to reveal the name until the company signs a lease. But Schrader said he designed the space, which includes an outdoor dining patio, with the restaurant in mind.
"They were the ones that I wanted," Schrader said. "I talked with some other people but I wasn't going to get serious with anyone else until they told me no."
Schrader said the site's proximity to Home Depot and Wal-Mart and visibility from Highway 4 were strong selling points with the tenants. The Verizon and Starbucks are scheduled to open Aug. 13, with the Dollar Tree following a week later, according to Schrader. If he lands the restaurant, it could open as soon as the end of the year, he added.
Schrader plans a second phase of the project to be built on an adjacent 4,550-square-foot parcel. The site is zoned mixed use, but he has no plans to build housing.
Schrader, who has developed retail and residential projects in Martinez, believes the city has the economic demographics to attract national retailers, but little space to build.
"The issue is there's just no land really available," he said. "Martinez is an older community, there's just no land to do a shopping center."
Although the Arnold Drive shopping center is small, it should help the city's finances.
"Every bit helps the city with respect to sales tax and property tax," Mayor Rob Schroder said. "Even though we spend a lot of time and energy on our downtown, which I think is important because the downtown is the heart and soul of a city, the lion's share of the sales tax is actually generated outside the downtown."
On another vacant lot down the street, Martinez dentist Stephen Francis plans to build a 7,000-square-foot medical building on Arnold Drive with retail space and a possible Taco Bell, according to Corey Simon, senior planner with the city.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.