The 450-store Les Schwab Tire Center chain, headquartered in Bend, Ore., is cleared to begin construction in Hollister on a plot of land next to the Walgreens next to the Highway 25 Bypass, according to William Avera, city manager, who announced at a recent city council meeting that the last hurdles to the project had been cleared. City officials say work could begin any time between now and next spring.
“The (hurdles) weren’t so much anything the city was involved with, but it was more the transaction between the developer and Les Schwab,” Avera said. “I don’t know what they were, but I signed escrow documents last week. I didn’t get confirmation that it closed Friday (Sept. 11), but I believe it was supposed to close then.”
Avera said the developer is Hawkins Development Group out of Boise, Idaho.
“They got planning commission approval around April,” he said. “I would suspect that construction would begin as soon as possible. I think a lot of the plans are ready to go. It’s probably just a matter of them getting their general contractors up and ready to go.”
Avera said the land that the store will be located on was co-owned by the city and the Gibson family trust.
“The city owned a tiny piece and that’s what we just sold,” Avera said. “The construction will begin pretty soon, probably within the next six or seven months. The store will be adjacent to Walgreens, facing the CA-25 Bypass. In fact, the parking lots will connect.”
Jill Morales, assistant planner in the city planning department, said, “The permit has been ready for a while. The developer just hasn’t picked it up. The building will be approximately 10,400 square feet devoted to tire sales and installation.”
Avera said the Gibson family and Hawkins have been working on several projects.
“We deal the most with Mark Gibson,” he said. “They’ve been here forever and owned a lot of orchards. Gibson Station condominiums (south of Rancho San Justo School) is part of their property, too.”
For those who question why another tire store in Hollister, Avera said, “Les Schwab is pretty much in growth mode and they’re a decent company. They’re similar to San Benito Tire, but I don’t think they intend taking business away from San Benito Tire. I think what they’re trying to do is capture that market that goes to Costco.”
Bob Cain, owner of San Benito Tire, expects some competition.
“I’m sure they’re going to take a piece of the pie,” he said. “Any time somebody opens up another store you’re going to lose something. Hopefully, when people go that way they end up coming back. That’s just the way it is. They’re (Les Schwab) huge and have their own way of doing things. Whether their prices are any better, I don’t really think so. They’ll keep everybody honest, that’s for sure. Our prices will be very competitive, but we’re locally owned, we’ve been here for 27 years, our service is good and we’ll continue doing what we do best.”
As for Avera, he said he intends to stick with the local company as he gave them an unofficial endorsement.
“I buy all my tires from San Benito Tire,” he said. "They’ve been really good to me and I don’t plan on changing.”
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