John Lindt, ">

Turkey image via Pitman Farms

published on May 21, 2019 - 9:00 AM
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Correction: A previous version of this story reported that Fresno’s OK Produce submitted a likely winning bid of $4.4 million for Zacky’s former 164,000 square-foot processing plant in Fresno. While OK Produce submitted a bid, it was outbid by another party.

Zacky Farms Chapter 11 bankruptcy hearings continue this month in Los Angeles. Two more Fresno properties have accepted bids at $1 million from Fresno Interstate Business Park, LLC.

As for 16 rural ranch properties, the court received a bid of $19 million from the debtor in possession, Great Rock Capital.

In a court filing in mid-May, Great Rock said that once the deal is completed, they will lease ”certain of the Credit Bid Properties to Bel’s Properties” as tenant. That is Sanger-based Pitman Family Farms legal name. Pitman would then use the rural ranches as Zacky did — to grow their poultry flocks.

John Lindt


The ranches are in Fresno and Kings counties. One of the largest is near Corcoran, a 400 acre spread with nearly a million square feet of buildings. Pitman Family Farms, Inc. raises, processes and sells chicken, turkey, and duck products specializing in free-range and organic poultry.

Objecting in court to the Great Rock $19 million deal is junior lender Gem Cap, which claims it was unfairly edged out of any chance to collect on its Zacky Farms debt.

Before the closure of Zacky Farms operations, Gem Cap said it was “compelled to re-hire all employees, needlessly pay for a flock that was not being processed, pay for overhead while the factory was dormant, and incur substantial cost increases due to the inefficiencies associated with the implications of the suspension of operations. The actual damage due to the abrupt cessation in operations proved to be approximately $7.2 million plus interest and fees.”

Gem Cap’s complaint states: “Great Rock abused the bankruptcy process by compelling the Debtor to file a voluntary petition for relief under chapter 11 that served no legitimate purpose but instead wrought havoc upon Gem Cap’s ability to foreclose on its collateral.”

Zacky Farms declared bankruptcy in November 2018, the apparent end to a 100-year turkey farming business. Ironically Pitman tried to buy Zacky Farms during its last bankruptcy filing in 2013.

Whatever happens in this court dispute, it appears the most likely user for Zacky’s growing farms is family-owned Pitman, which operates a new feed mill in Hanford to supply its ranches.


Visalia finally getting its Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts filed a permit application with the City of Visalia this week to make their interior tenant improvements at their long-rumored future location at the southeast corner of Mooney Boulevard and Walnut Avenue.

The quick service eatery will include a drive-thru at the former site of Weatherby’s Furniture at 2010 S Mooney Blvd.

Rumors that the popular chain would be coming to this location have swirled around since 2015 — propelling the local daily newspaper into a half dozen breathless “whatever happened to Dunkin’” stories since.


New health care facilities for Tulare

Tulare‘s Altura Center For Health is planning a big development on Cartmill Avenue at Hillman Street in the northeast part of the city.

The three-building medical complex is set to begin construction in November, says its application. The facilities would employ 150 near term and 300 long term.

Altura is a Federally Qualified Health Center based in Tulare that will be jousting for patients with Adventist Health, which not only runs the hospital in town now but also plans a new medical clinic near the proposed Altura site.

The city is clearly hoping to simulate more development in this part of the city with plans to widen Cartmill Avenue from Highway 99 north to Mooney Boulevard.


Visalia’s Plaza Drive will see third hotel

A Bakersfield firm, RAMM Hospitality, headed by Raj Verma, is already under construction on a 95-room Marriott Residence Inn at Crowley Avenue and Plaza Drive off Highway 198 in Visalia.

Now the developer plans to build a 100 unit, four-story Hilton Garden Inn on the southeast corner of the same intersection, according to a conditional use permit application filed May 15.

The new $9 million 5-story Residence Inn is well under construction at 205 N Plaza Dr. and is expected to open in July.

With these two new hotels on the north side of Highway 198 coming on line this year, there will be total of three large hotels on Plaza Drive, including the 250-room Wyndham next to the airport. That’s a total about 450 rooms on the city’s western entrance.

Hotels generate $3 million in bed tax monies for Visalia each year. Statistics from travel research firm STR report that Visalia hotels generate around $105 per room as of March 2019, higher than the average rate in Fresno or Bakersfield.


Empty Visalia pretzel plant sold

TreeHouse Foods has closed its 38,400 square-foot pretzel plant in the Visalia Industrial Park. The snack foods plant had employed nearly 300.

Now there is new twist to the story as the 14-acre property has been sold to developer and next-door neighbor Butch Oldfield with American Air. Oldfield is a refrigeration contractor and developer of industrial properties.

In the past year, TreeHouse Foods has closed more plants than they opened, as they appear to be in consolidation mode. This was the fourth plant they closed recently.

TreeHouse, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, has some 40 manufacturing facilities in the US, Canada and Italy that make private label food products including snack food. The company announced the closure of the Visalia facility more than a year ago.

Oldfield said he has not begun marketing the property, but expects that will begin soon. Tenants could be food related or not.

Oldfield has developed the American Industrial Park on the western side of the Visalia Industrial Park with typically smaller-sized tenants, 5,000 to 15,000 square feet. This is the same area where Fresno-based developer Pickett Construction is building several new “spec” buildings.

Oldfield recently built new facilities for Breck’s Electric and Smith’s Promotions.

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