The Northern San Joaquin Valley’s first “true” business park in the classic model of the Hacienda Business Park in Pleasanton could rise on former pumpkin and watermelon fields that are in incorporated into River Islands at Lathrop.

And it’s because all of the elements — and then some — that made Hacienda Business Park a magnet for office-style endeavors are slowly falling in place for the 15,000-home planned community.

*It’s at the juncture critical freeway for NorCal Metroplex Bay Area commerce — Interstate 5, the 120 Bypass, and Interstate 205.

*As early as 2028 it will be the initial terminus of the extension of the Bay Area’s key mass transit system — BART — via the Valley Link project that will run to the Pleasanton-Dublin BART station.

*The Valley Link station at River Islands not only is on the edge of the planned business park but it will be surrounded with a transit valley with roughly 1,500 apartments plus shops and restaurants.

*It is best positioned with just a short shuttle either by bus or Valley Link to take  advantage of future reverse commutes via Altamont Corridor Express trains from San Jose and Sacramento after Ceres ACE service to the Capital City starts in 2023.

That means Lathrop, which is roughly equal distance from San Jose, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, and Merced would be a tailor-fit for the anticipated post pandemic world of hybrid workforces mixing in office with remote working.

Not only will  the location have rail service to the heart of all tech concerns and the cities where many of the key upper level workers reside but it also would allow future businesses to secure workers from those seeking more affordable housing from Merced and Modesto on the south and Sacramento to the north.

Clearly, such a business park wouldn’t be an over ight thing.

“We’re willing to wait,” noted River Islands President Susan Dell’Osso.

That qualifies as an understatement, Cambay Group, the England-based concern that owns River islands, spent just a tad over 20 years working through the entitlement process and addressing daunting issues such as 200-year flood protection, surface water, and putting in place a publicly owned electrical concern to allow future residents and businesses enjoy lower power costs than what PG&E charges.

Every time a home closes escrow at River Islands at Lathrop, $5,000 is paid into an account designed to lure employers to the planned community’s envisioned 350-acre business park.

That fee — along with the housing mix and lifestyle Cambay Group is creating in the 4,800-acre project — could be the key to help Lathrop do what no other Northern San Joaquin Valley city has done. And that is to create a large business park devoted exclusively to research and development, office headquarters and laboratory space.

The goal is to create 16,800 jobs to balance the 15,000 homes being built.

“The park will not allow distribution centers,” Dell’Osso said

In fact, language approved by Lathrop voters explicitly prohibits warehouse or distribution centers. The street patterns and other flows such as for pedestrians are designed not to accommodate truck traffic save for local deliveries to future stores.

Breaking the mold of San Joaquin County being the domain of distribution centers either moving out of the Bay Area or opting to locate close to it and be able to serve the Sacramento market at the same time is being done by design.

River Islands will offer the 209 region’s largest concentration of executive-style home with 990 lots atop a 300-foot wide levee with access to a 17-mile continuous greenbelt park with commanding views of the San Joaquin River as well as apartments, and single family homes built around numerous lakes.

The strategy of Cambay Group is to develop a desirable community with easy access by passenger rail to the Bay Area to serve as an enticement for firms that want to move out of the high cost Bay Area to take advantage of a pool of 85,000 workers — many of whom are in the tech fields — that commute each day from the Northern San Joaquin Valley to San Jose, the Silicon Valley, and San Francisco.