Six years in the making, a Family Dollar in Heber is scheduled to open Dec. 1 and could bring nearly two dozen jobs in an unincorporated town short on commercial activity despite a population around 5,000.
“We’re excited about it; construction is about a month away. We’ve got our contractor lined up … we want to start (building) by July 1. We’re working aggressively to keep that timeline,” said Glenn Plantone, managing partner of Nevada New Builds LLC of Las Vegas.
Plantone added he did not have an accurate count of how many jobs would be created by the Heber location, but said it could be around 20 positions, mostly part-time.
The firm sought to start construction two months ago, but the project has been slowed by issues with the California Department of Transportation and county planning, Plantone said June 6.
County Supervisor Luis Plancarte, whose District 2 includes Heber, said he is pleased to see a new business arrive.
“Heber has really grown over the past year, with all the (housing) construction west of Dogwood Road. I think this is going to give (Heber residents) another opportunity to shop and pickup supplies,” Plancarte said June 7. “That empty lot has sat there for years and years. It will be good to have a nice business there that will spur more growth for the area.”
The Family Dollar project, which first appeared in front of county planning officials in 2013, is expected to leap its final hurdle with the Imperial County Planning Commission on June 12. At that meeting the commission would consider the approval of a parcel map, said Michael Abraham, assistant county planning director, also in a June 6 interview.
That review involves merging 12 smaller lots into one .88-acre lot at the northwest corner of Highway 86 and Heffernan Avenue in Heber. It is west of Kennedy’s Market. Approval is recommended and the commission is expected to follow suit, Abraham added.
In addition to the approval of the parcel map, the county Planning and Development Services building division is reviewing the applicant’s building permit, which does not need commission approval, he said.
The project has been beset by delays as turnover at Caltrans caused the project to lose momentum, Abraham explained. Because Highway 86 is a state route, he said the state agency had to approve the project applicant’s request for customer and delivery truck access to the site from the highway. The project picked up steam again in late 2018 when Caltrans approved site plans.
The county then received the building permit application on March 22.
The application calls for a 9,180-square-foot building with the parking lot situated on the west side of the property, Abraham said.
The purchase of the land and estimated construction costs have a price tag of $1.4 million, Plantone said. This is his first foray into developing a Family Dollar store, although he does have another Family Dollar in the early stages of development in another part of California.
“Family Dollar is looking to build over 300 stores in California,” Plantone said, adding the company prefers going into smaller communities.
There are already Family Dollar stores in Brawley, Calexico, El Centro, Holtville and Salton City.
When asked whether there would be groceries sold at the Heber location, Plantone said he did not immediately know.
Frozen and canned food items are sold at other Imperial County locations, and stores are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.