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WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD WOLF?

Talks on water park resort are picking up steam

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WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD WOLF?

Workers are putting in place more than $8 million worth of infrastructure using redevelopment bond proceeds to prepare city-owned land west of Costco along the 120 Bypass corridor for a water park ...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/


POSTED March 25, 2017 12:35 a.m.

So, who is afraid of the big bad wolf?
Apparently not the folks that are actively pursuing an indoor water park resort with an extensive family entertainment complex in Manteca.
Great Wolf Resorts which spurned project developer McWhinney that is working with the City of Manteca is now looking for greener pastures in Brentwood 45 miles northwest of the 120 Bypass proposed location that already has critical California Environmental Quality Act clearance for a 500-room hotel and indoor waterpark.
Great Wolf — that had a new management team after the Garden Grove location was opened in partnership with McWhinney — reportedly didn’t like how the basket of goodies was being split. Just as everything looked like a go 17 months ago as the environment impact report was completed, Great Wolf turned on “Little Red Riding Hood” — this case McWhinney.
Apparently the critical number crunching on both sides has been done and reviewed by the current water park resort suitor. It is to the point that on Friday the city got a call to set up what will reportedly be a  down to the brass tacks talk about the future of a Manteca resort.
Mayor Steve DeBrum — who has steadfastly held the city’s cards close to his chest — did indicate the potential resort operators were looking at possibly more than 60 acres of city-owned land. The Great Wolf deal was predicated on 30 acres and the new discussions when McWhinney went hunting for a new partner pushed that up to 60 acres.
As far as DeBrum being worried about anything besides Manteca getting the best deal and protecting city interests, he pointed out Manteca “is much farther along in the process” than Brentwood.
And whether a Great Wolf possibly locating that close to whoever McWhinney is negioating with, all DeBrum has to do is recall his trip to The Dells in Wisconsin.
The Great Wolf was even closer to competition there with much of it being even bigger. There is a reason The Dells claims it is “The Water Park Capital of the World.” There are three other indoor water parks at the Wisconsin Dells: Chula Vista Waterparks, Kalahari Resort Waterparks, and Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park. That is in addition to Noah’s Ark Waterpark — America’s largest waterpark.
A breakdown of Great Wolf’s competitors back in the Wisconsin Dells are as follows:
uMt. Olympus Water and Theme Park — The year-round indoor water and theme park located on 107 acres has 37 waterslides, seven roller coasters, and nine go-kart tracks, batting cages, the 100-foot Apollo’s Swing. rock climbing walls, and other amusement rides, five hotels, campgrounds, and a conference center.
uChula Vista Resort — The 620-rroom main resort has 110,000 square feet of indoor waterparks with 150,000 square feet of outdoor waterparks, volleyball courts, an 18-hole golf course, golf villa condos, outdoor wave pool, and 26,000-square-foot convention center. It also has a sports dome that hosts concerts, indoor football, and trade shows.
uKalahari Resort and Convention Center — It boasts the United States’ largest indoor waterpark at 173,000 square feet with 756 guest rooms, four main restaurants, fitness center, spa, indoor Flow Rider surfing simulator, movie theatre, live entertainment venue, golf, six-story Ferris wheel, sports bar, bowling alley, rock climbing walls, carousel, laser tag, a two-story go-kart track, miniature golf, bowling alley, a 3-D theatre ride, arcades, and a swinging pendulum ride.
uNoah’s Ark — It is described by the waterpark industry as the largest waterpark in the United States with water slides on 70 acres and is the only seasonal operator. It is open from May to September.
By comparison Great Wolf — the world’s largest chain of indoor waterparks — has a hotel, restaurants, arcades, spa, indoor waterpark, yoga classes, and conference centers.
Whoever Manteca is negotiating with is closer to building should they strike a deal with McWhinney and the City of Manteca. That’s because the environmental clearance has already been secured for a specific project for a 500-room hotel, 75,000-square-foot indoor water park, 15,000-square-foot outdoor water park, and 30,000-square-foot conference center.
A completed and approved environmental impact report in California for a project is as good as money in the bank.
Once the state-mandated EIR that took 18 months to complete was adopted, it means a resort project that size or smaller can proceed. A firm starting from scratch such as Great Wolf is doing in Brentwood still needs to go through the EIR process.
Manteca officials  doubled the land set aside for a waterpark after McWhinney apprised them that the potential operator wanted to build significantly more than Great Wolf including as many as 800 hotel rooms and an RV park as well as what was described as essentially a “family amusement park.”
Anything beyond what is approved would require additional EIR work for a future phase. That said, work could start on what has already been approved as a first phase while additional environmental reviews are conducted.
Work is now underway installing $8 million of infrastructure using redevelopment agency bond receipts to make the 60-acre city-owned site shovel ready to break ground for a resort.
Manteca is also moving forward with adding an interchange at McKinley Avenue at the 120 Bypass and extending Daniels Street to put the resort site midway between tow interchanges — the other being Airport Way — that are a mile apart.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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