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AKF may help city secure water park

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POSTED March 15, 2010 2:08 a.m.

AKF Development – the firm that played a pivotal role in helping Manteca snag The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley and Del Webb at Woodbridge plus converted the old Spreckels Sugar factory site into a $200 million economic juggernaut - is now being tapped to help Manteca secure a water park and a hotel.

The City Council Tuesday sitting as the Manteca Redevelopment Agency commission will consider entering into an exclusive negotiating contract with AKF. The council meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

While there is no cost to the city to enter into the agreement, should the developer succeed at securing a hotel and a water park that would be positive fiscal impacts from the sale of land for the city and redevelopment agency.

AKF will be working on a proposal to develop a hotel and water park somewhere on four parcels consisting of 115 acres immediate to the west of Costco and Big League Dreams straddling both sides of the future extension of Daniels Street west to McKinley Avenue.

That gives AKF the flexibility to determine the best location to develop and market. The water park could have exposure along the Highway 120 Bypass or be adjacent to the BLD sports complex.

The water park and hotel is the latest in a series of development plans that the city is employing to convert what was once a former police tactical training range and corn fields the city owned or now owns adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant.

The first RDA project was putting in infrastructure and then selling land to make the Stadium Retail Center anchored by Costco and Kohl’s possible. The BLD complex with its six replace Major league Baseball fields, indoor soccer arena, and two restaurants was also an RDA project.

The RDA has sealed a deal with San Joaquin County to build a South County administrative complex that could have in excess of 200 workers on RDA property on the northeast corner of Milo Candini Drive and Daniels Street. The RDA is also shopping a hotel site on the corner of Airport Way and Daniels Street.

It is immediately south of the proposed Microtel Suites which is in the process of securing Department of Agricultural funding set aside for the development of rural hotels.

The RDA is also working to develop a business park just north of the BLD complex. It will involve existing city land and available property that it is buying up when it becomes available in the corridor between Airport Way and the future extension of Milo Candini Drive to Yosemite Avenue.
It is a classic RDA project where an agency pieces together small parcels as it becomes available to the point it is at critical mass and then sells it at market value to a developer who can make a go of a business park to create employment center jobs.

In addition to the RDA projects, Kitchell Development – the builders of the Stadium Retail Center - is now processing plans for a drug store and a fast food restaurant that will go on the southeast corner of Airport Way and Daniels Street. It is part of the center that will be anchored by Lowe’s Home Improvement Center.  Plans for Lowe’s have been approved. It is on hold until the economy rebounds.

AKF was involved in some of the land packaging for the lifestyle center at Union Road and the Highway 120 Bypass. They also put together development plans for the Del Webb project as part of the overall Union Ranch and worked to secure Pulte Homes to purchase the land.

They also were the development firm that took the 362-acre Spreckels Sugar plant after it closed and converted into the city’s largest employment center as well as developed retail and residential components.

Part of strategy to
snag visitors dollars

City leaders believe building a water park is a perfect fit with BLD. A similar BLD-water park project in Mansfield, Texas has proven to be a winning combination. It too was built in a private/public partnership.

Manteca also believes it now has the draw in terms of visitors’ dollars to support a water park.

Bass Pro Shops had 2.7 million visitors in 2009 and the BLD complex 400,000 thanks to tournaments every weekend of the year. The upscale outlet malls now under construction at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley that Bass Pro Shops anchors is expected to even attract more visitors.

The original Manteca Waterslides was located on the western end of Woodward Avenue. For years it was Manteca’s biggest drawing card. The waterslides closed in 2004 and was torn down to make room for the gated lake community dubbed Oakwood Shores that went into foreclosure after about a dozen homes were built.

Almost anyone who lived in Manteca during the 30 years the Brown family’s venture was making a big splash has a story to tell of running into people while traveling – whether in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, or even Paris - who had heard of Manteca due to the waterslides.

It was a popular stop in the summer for those traveling to and from Yosemite to San Francisco for domestic and foreign tourists alike.

Manteca was actually the birthplace of waterslides in California. The original ones were poured from concrete and were inspired during a trip to Hawaii the Brown family made why trying to figure out what to do with the huge hole in the ground on their property created by the use of dirt to build up travel lanes on Interstate 5 through Lathrop.

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