IMPERIAL — City officials, developers, and businessmen tossed dirt during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, October 20, to start construction of the Imperial Gateway Center, a new commercial site anticipated to bring revenue to the City.
Also known as the 15th Street Project, the pie-shaped piece of property located between Frank Wright Middle School and southbound Highway 86, is walking distance from nearby residential homes and apartment buildings.
It will be the future site of anchor store 7-Eleven and its proprietary gas station; and the new United States Postal Service which will replace the old post office a few blocks away on North Imperial Avenue. A restaurant will also be built, and the City is currently negotiating with potential businesses to move into the area. No details were provided.
“We are very excited. It’s been a long time in our vision,” said Mayor Darrell Pechtl.
According to Pechtl, the 4-acre site — neglected and abandoned by the State for many years — was deeded to the City of Imperial by the State of California when the City took possession of Highway 86 in 2017. The City immediately began working to market the property to developers. The land was sold by the City at full appraised value. The amount was not available at press time.
“It didn’t cost us to take over this property. We look at it as a net gain of $4-6 million for the City for the sale of the property alone,” said Pechtl. The commercial site will bring additional revenue to the City.
Chris Peto, developer and owner of 5th Street Imperial, LLC, has worked on various economic opportunities in past years for the City of Imperial. Peto said, “The full investment into the property when completed is between $3-4 million.”
A program at the groundbreaking event clarified that 5th Street Imperial is the business name of the developer and is different from the City of Imperial’s 15th Street Project, which refers to the Imperial Gateway Center.
Present at the groundbreaking ceremonies were developers, a brokerage team, tenant investors, city officials, and a city economic development consultant.
After the introductions and speeches, officials took a shovel and on cue, tossed dirt for the groundbreaking.
Construction will begin next spring, according to Pechtl. Six months thereafter, the hardscape — the foundation, asphalt, concrete, and parking structures to support the buildings — will be set in place.
Even though he doesn’t see any negative effects of the new commercial site, Pechtl anticipated increased traffic.
“The completion of the project is anticipated next year, in May 2021,” said Pechtl.