A gas station long in the works for The Orchard shopping center got the city's OK last week to sell beer and wine, paving the way for a summer opening.
The ARCO ampm gas station and mini-mart will house 12 pumps at 27698 Clinton Keith Road, on the northwest corner of Clinton Keith Road and Interstate 215 between Juice It Up! and Bank of America.
Mark Kooklani, president of C.S.K. Petroleum, said he expects to gain the rest of the necessary permits within 45 days. Following that, construction should take four and a half months, he said.
"It should be finished around six months from now," Kooklani told Patch in a phone interview Monday.
Kooklani said he plans to adhere to provisions laid out under the city of Murrieta's revised alcoholic beverage code. Those stipulations include alcohol sales between 6 a.m. and midnight only, in-depth training for clerks, and no alcohol advertising on fuel islands or on the store's exterior. Single beers or wine-coolers can also not be sold, and there are surveillance video guidelines to adhere to.
"We train—that is our No. 1 goal when we open," said Kooklani, who operates several stores in San Diego County. "Anybody that looks under 40 gets carded for alcohol and cigarettes."
The store will be located across the freeway overpass from , but under the city's there is a 600-foot distance requirement from schools instead of the previous 500 feet.
The station will be located within 1,000 feet of some residences, which was a past sticking point for the developer of The Orchard, Allan Davis.
"I have been working since 2005 to get a fuel station here," Davis said. "I have been working with Mark (Kooklani) for about a year and a half."
Under the revised code, there is no distance requirement from homes, but the station owner had to go through a minor conditional use permit process to gain approval.
"The people here are just craving it," Davis said."I get people who stop in to my office onsite at least once a week, asking when it is coming."
A shop operator in the center agreed.
"We are very glad," said Anna Bui, manager of Orchard Nail Spa. "A lot of customers come in here and request it. There is nothing here at this exit."
Bui, who commutes from Riverside, said she also looks forward to not having to drive one exit down to Los Alamos Road to fill up her car with gas.
Even more relieved that the project was moving forward was store architect Gregory Hann, of Murrieta-based Empire Design, Inc.
"The convenience store business is off by 20-30 percent in the state," Hann said. "This is the first ground-up being built in the valley in five years. After a five-year hiatus, Murrieta needs this."
Hann is an ARCO-approved architect and said he has designed 60 gas stations mostly in southwest Riverside County. His latest was the ARCO ampm at Scott and Antelope roads, which opened in 2009.
Making The Orchard project difficult was the limited lot size of .67 acres—29,000 square feet—he said.
"Nowadays they have to have almost an acre to make it work," Hann said. "It took six months to get this approved by the [Murrieta] Planning Department because it was so tight."
He thanked Pat Thomas, public works director, for signing off on a driveway off the shopping center's Clinton Keith entrance. ARCO would not have approved the project otherwise, he said.
"The station almost died because of size constraints and ingress/egress for the tanker truck," Hann said.
The project will mirror the aesthetics of the adjoining shopping center, which Hann said is unique to The Orchard and required Kooklani to agree to spend a little more.
"I admire people that take a little risk," he said, of both Davis and Kooklani.
That risk will likely pay off due to what locals termed a void in the vicinity.
Local resident Nick Foster, 18, who lives almost directly across Clinton Keith Road in Murrieta Oaks East, was excited to hear confirmation of the news.
"That should definitely help a lot of people," Foster said. "I know that is a big issue around here."