The Marriott Townhomes Suites is one of three hotels under construction in the city of Clovis, with three more on development. Photo by David Castellon
Written by David Castellon
If you’ve driven lately along Shaw Avenue in Clovis, you may have noticed a couple hotels under construction off the drag or a new façade being framed over a former drug store off Clovis Avenue.
Those are just some of the new businesses being built on vacant land or moving into existing storefronts along Clovis’ oldest and busiest retail corridor.
“Here on Shaw Avenue, we have just a ton of growth going on — between hotels, new retailers. Costco has announced their intention to move and expand their warehouse” from its current location off Ashlan and Peach avenues to a busier traffic locale, on Clovis Avenue, just southwest of Shaw, said Andy Haussler, community and economic development director for Clovis.
“We have two motels under construction, with three more approved and coming, almost doubling our hotel rooms,” he said, adding that other additions to the Shaw Avenue corridor include a Planet Fitness gym, a pet hospital and an ALDI grocery store, while recent additions completed over the past year include a new Smart & Final grocery store and an NS Laser Tag Adventure Park relocating from Fresno to the Sierra Vista Mall off Shaw.
Speaking of the mall, Haussler noted a new Japanese restaurant is in the works there — taking a portion of the space once occupied by Gottschalks — while last year the mall’s Sierra Vista Cinemas 16 underwent a major renovation to become a “luxury” movie theater with reclining seats, an expanded cafe offering beer and wine and the ability for moviegoers to reserve specific seats when purchasing tickets.
“We’re very exited. The new hotels, that are coming, the new retail that’s coming — especially [along] the Shaw Avenue corridor. It’s very exciting for the community,” said Greg Newman, who after 18 years managing the Sierra Vista Mall became executive director of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce.
He was among a group of guests from Clovis’ business community invited recently by city officials to gather at the Elephant Lounge on Shaw to hear about the city’s boom in retail and hotel development.
“The addition of the hotels is a huge plus for this area,” as is the planned relocation of Costco, a big, high-profile retailer likely to draw a lot of shoppers to the Shaw and Clovis Avenue corridors, Newman said.
As for what’s driving the influx of businesses and renovations, Haussler said it comes down to the adage of retail following roofs.
About a dozen years ago, a lot of new home development started focusing on Clovis’ northeast side, and retailers, restaurateurs and others followed, resulting in a lot of new retail businesses blossoming along the Herndon Avenue corridor, but recently home development shifted back around the east end of Shaw, Haussler explained.
“I think revitalizing the Shaw Avenue corridor is important. I know that a lot of the retail has been moving north to Herndon, which is great for that [area], but I think the influx of new hotels, retailers on Shaw Avenue just pumps new life into this area,” Newman said.
“I think we’ve grown 10,000 people in the city over the past five years, probably about 70 percent of that happened in Loma Vista,” Haussler said, referring to the master-planned community along the east end of Shaw that has built thousands of new homes over at least the past 15 years, he said.
In addition, Haussler said, the city probably has played a part in promoting new developments, working well with developers and initiating a “Core Fee Reduction Program” that reduced developer impact fees by as much as 70 percent.
Though that program will sunset later this year, Haussler said he believes it helped get the flywheels going on new the developments now occurring in his city.
Christopher Ajlun, a broker specializing in retail for Fresno’s Marcus & Millichap, said of Clovis “It’s known as a city where it’s pretty easy to do business in — in contrast to Fresno. They are extremely helpful. They have staff who know issues that developers and retailers face thoroughly. They have been very proactive in taking steps to remain viable.
“Clovis has always been a strong retail market. It’s a strong housing market, and that’s what drives retail. When I call retail investors in the Western U.S., they all know Clovis. For a town of this size, it’s fairly unusual, but its known in the retail world as being a strong retail market with good fundamentals, good demographics.”
“Clovis is definitely in a growth mode right now,” said Mike Henry, a broker specializing in retail spaces and senior vice president and principal for Colliers International in Fresno.
He noted that Clovis is experiencing growth in every facet of its real estate market, including office, warehouse, retail, medical and residential sectors.
‘“Its a good time to be in Clovis doing business.”
And so many new brick-and-mortar stores coming into the city slightly bucks a national trend of such stores shutting down, largely due to competition from Internet-based vendors, Henry said.
It helps that Clovis has one of the best school systems in California that’s drawing some young families to move there, he said.
Henry also credited city officials for being proactive, working to attract new businesses to the city.
Among the new businesses the city is hoping to attract is one or more furniture stores, as a “gap analysis” looking at the Clovis’ retail needs indicate Clovis has insufficient furniture stores, Haussler noted.
“We’re not picky who it is, but we’re going after them at retail trade shows and have been pretty aggressive, so hopefully you’ll see one come to the market soon.”