Sunday, October 31, 2004

A city on the grow

Dixon enjoys dynamic business development

By Barbara Smith/Business Writer

Cold Stone Creamery. Payless Shoe Source. Supercuts. Game Stop. Subway.
Those are just a few of the new businesses coming to Dixon.

New business in Dixon - big or small - is either under construction, wending its way through city approvals or being considered carefully by developers. The tiny city to the north is becoming one of the hottest commerce spots in Solano County.

Marshall Drack, the city's economic development director said compared to the size of the community, the level of activity is remarkable.

"We're enjoying a broad diversity of economic growth in retail, commercial, restaurant, office, industrial, as well as residential," Drack said.

The lure? Dixon has excellent Interstate 80 exposure, Drack said.

"Now everybody knows we're here," he said. "So, although we're a town of 18,000, ... we've got 150,000 cars a day going by that see us (and are) part of our community for a few minutes."

Visible from the I-80 is Wal-Mart, which opened in 2003 in Dixon's 643-acre Northeast Quadrant, specifically planned years ago as an employment center with a business park, industrial and commercial areas. The land around the retail giant is cluttered with signs from real estate brokers anxious to sell land that has not already been snapped up.

Jim Jeary, division manager for Sacramento-based Panattoni Development, said Wal-Mart is one of the main reasons retail businesses are scoping Dixon.

The ice cream and sandwich shops, hair salon, shoe store, game center and more near Wal-Mart will encompass 13,000 to 15,000 square feet of retail, Jeary said. And he understands the broker has the space fully leased, and hasn't even begun construction.

"He's got a significant number of tenants already lined up," Jeary said.

Just down the road from Wal-Mart, Panattoni and Wickland Oil Co. are in contract to sell about 4 of 12.5 acres both firms own on the southeast corner of North First Street and Vaughn Road to Tractor Supply Co., which would be a 50,000 square-foot facility. The firm has 300 locations in the Midwest. But there are a lot of approvals in the entitlement process, and the contract is contingent upon those approvals, he said.

"If the deal with Tractor Supply goes, we will probably build about a 12,000 to 13,000 square-foot retail strip center at that same corner," Jeary said. "And then we're talking other prospects as well.

Jeary said Dixon's residential base is also part of what attracts retail interests to the city. And as those business developments move forward, that also attracts retail, he said.

According to Drack, some recent business development projects in Dixon include:

• a 28,000-square-foot

office building and another 28,000 square-foot industrial building Vaughn Road;

• a 13,350-square-foot commercial building in the approval process on Market Lane;

• 34,901 square feet of commercial buildings on North Lincoln Street;

• a 5,600-square-foot building under construction on North First Street;

• 5,525 square feet of retail commercial buildings on North Lincoln at Russell Lane; and

• 5,000 square feet of commercial and 8,000 square feet of retail buildings on East Dorset Drive.

That's a tremendous change from what the city has seen in the past 15 years, Jeary said, noting there have been some significant office deals consummated.

Panattoni built the still fairly new Vacaville-based Dependable Heating & Air Conditioning facility on North First Street. Two businesses - KBI Construction and ISEC - have leased office space in the facility, about 10,000 square feet each.

"Those are big leases for the city of Dixon," Jeary said. "That's a 25,000 square-foot office and production facility, so those are three great deals that Dixon has landed in the last year and one half."

The city is also marketing Dixon with a new glossy brochure that boasts the city is business friendly, its strategic location between Sacramento and San Francisco, close proximity to the University of California, Davis and more.

Major employers in Dixon include Wal-Mart, 400 jobs; Campbell's Soup Supply Co., 350 jobs; Kragen Distribution Center, 270 jobs; Gymboree Corp. U.S. Distribution Center, 200 jobs; First Northern Bank, 160 jobs; Superior Meat Packing, 160 jobs; and Cardinal Health, 300 jobs.

Drack said the new businesses continue to provide Dixon with healthy sales tax revenue. Sales tax revenue comes from the retail concerns, whereas property tax dollars come from the equipment in the large buildings, some of which can contain millions of dollars worth of equipment, Drack said.

Jeary said it's hard to say what's on the 2005 horizon, but he's optimistic.

"I think we're excited about what's happening in Dixon and all the recent activity. I think there's going to be more of that."

Panattoni also owns about 28 acres of industrial land on Fitzgerald Drive, However, the industrial market has been slow, he said.

"I think we could call it a secondary or tertiary market because of its distance from the main market of metropolitan Sacramento," he said. "It's far enough away that a lot of users won't look at it. It's a little too far out of their search area."

Barbara Smith can be reached at

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