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Environmental study next step for Great Wolf

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POSTED May 18, 2013 2:28 a.m.

Nearly 100 acres of city-owned wastewater treatment plant land could end up as the premier family entertainment hub for the Northern San Joaquin Valley while tapping into the Bay Area market as well.

Identifying the impacts of developing the 100 acres west of Big League Dreams and Costco along the 120 Bypass is the next step in the vetting process that the City of Manteca is engaged in with McWhinney Development and ANF Development.

McWhinney Real Estate Services - the Colorado-based develop firm that wants to bankroll the actual building of what could be up to a 600-room resort hotel with a 70,000-square-foot indoor water park and a conference center - is in an exclusive negotiation agreement with the city. They want to build a Great Wolf Resort on 30 acres currently owned by the city west of Costco. ANF Development is evaluating land assembly and infrastructure needed the overall 140-acre family entertainment zone.

The City Council when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. is being asked to authorize City Manager Karen McLaughlin to have staff prepare requests for proposals to conduct an environmental impact report for both the Great Wolf Lodge and the family entertainment zone. The council meets at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

Both McWhinney and ANF Development will pay for the EIR expected to cost more than $200,000.

McWhinney and the city have been meeting periodically to analysis the project and devise a proposal that will be submitted before elected leaders by November. At that time the council will decide whether to go with the plan or drop it.

McLaughlin said the commitment of $200,000 plus for environmental studies underscores McWhinney’s seriousness about the project.

Previously, the city had been in talks with Great Wolf Resorts directly. The resort operator brought in McWhinney as the developer. The current plan of the two partners is to have McWhinney build and own the resort if it proceeds with Great Wolf managing it.

The proposed Manteca indoor water park that could have as many as 600 hotel rooms and a conference center reflects an investment of up to $200 million. Great Wolf projects a $9.4 million annual payroll with 414 permanent jobs and 156 part-time jobs. They also expect 400,000 annual visitors that would pay motel room taxes in excess of $4 million each year.

The overall objective is to wed Big League Dreams, a Great Wolf Resort and complementing venues to create an overall 170-acre regional family entertainment zone.

The site involves land that is now part of the city’s wastewater treatment plant holdings and is between McKinley Avenue and Airport Way along the 120 Bypass.

The conceptual plan for the FEZ includes:

• a 400-room destination family entertainment hotel - Great Wolf - with a 75,000-square-foot indoor water park and 20,000-square-foot conference center.

• a destination restaurant.

• a new west entry to the BLD complex.

• an indoor all-seasons sports and expo center with four basketball courts that would allow alternative use for volleyball, cheer competitions, badminton, gymnastics, wrestling or exhibit space.

• an outdoor soccer/concert stadium, with 500 fixed seats and space for expansion.

• fields for soccer, football, lacrosse, rugby, and field hockey.

• additional baseball and softball fields for youth play.

• a retail food and beverage zone.

• an immersive outdoor retailer.

• an outdoor amphitheatre with stadium-style seating for competitions and performances.

• ESPN-style microbrewery.

• manmade lake with boardwalk with kayaks, canoes paddle board and paddle boat rentals.

• beach volleyball.

• destination playground.

• outdoor performance space including a band shell stage or gazebo with lakeside seating for 500.

• party pavilions and party boats.

• a family entertainment zone including go karts, Lazertag, ball crawl, arcade, mini-golf, black-light bowling, and refreshments.

• an adventure zone with zip lines, rope course, rock climbing wall, whitewater course primarily for rafts and kayaks, stunt BMX race course and hard surface skate park for competitions complete with spectator bleachers, and a FlowRider (a device that generates waves you can surf).

There would also be RV and bus parking complete with a bus terminal. The complex also would involve the placement of a tour center to direct people to tours in the Delta, Yosemite area, wineries and agricultural attractions.

The site would include bike trails and landscape berms.

The FEZ would require 4,281 parking spaces.

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