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Still in the hunt for Great Wolf

Final decision will take until at least late 2014

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Still in the hunt for Great Wolf

A Great Wolf Resort indoor water park.

Photos contributed/


POSTED September 14, 2013 1:34 a.m.

Great Wolf isn’t a slam dunk deal.

In fact, the due diligence process to see whether the $200 million proposed water park hotel-resort makes financial sense for Manteca is going to take at least an additional year.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin with the concurrence of Whinney Development will ask the Manteca City Council in october for a year’s extension for the exclusive negotiating agreement for the city’s 30 acres  west of Costco for a 400 to 600 room hotel and 75,000-square-foot indoor watrepark.

It was a year ago in December the city entered into exclusive talks with the Colorado-based development firm regarding the resort that would — if built — become both the city’s largest non-healthcare private sector employer as well as the biggest source of general fund tax dollars for Manteca.

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.

Great Wolf first approached Manteca in December 2010 expressing interest in using the city property to build a resort. The city, developers, and Great Wolf — which would manage the resort for McWhinney — have been in some form of talks ever since.

The city and developers have spent the past nine plus months going over various scenarios and options involving how the city would make the land available — either through a direct sale or leasing — to how non-Great Wolf infrastructure such as the extension of Daniels Street would be financed.

The latest extension is needed for an exhaustive environmental impact report addressing both the resort and the city’s proposed family entertainment zone Manteca envisions on 110 acres of land adjacent to both the proposed resort and the 30-acre Big League Dreams sports complex.

The actual study is expected to take nine to 10 months to prepare. It will address everything from impacts on traffic to air quality and suggested mitigation. The additional time is needed for the city to review the study and make a decision whether to accept the EIR.

The EIR will also allow a specific development plan to be drafted to attach dollar amounts to municipal costs for sewer, water, storm drainage, and public streets for the portion of the project not involving the 30 acres Great Wolf is interested in developing.

McLaughlin noted the type of improvements would help drive examination of various funding mechanisms the city could use. It also could impact how the city structures a land sale or long-term lease of the 30 acres to Great Wolf.

The cost of the EIR — which could run well in excess of $300,000 — would be borne by both McWhinney Development and Manteca Development Group.

The MDA which is led by long-time Manteca developer Bill Filios is the exclusive marketing representative for the overall project for the city. They are not being paid upfront but are assuming financial risk for studies. The group would be reimbursed as deals are cut to sell the land within the family entertainment zone to firms that would build the actual attractions.

McWhinney could be reimbursed for portions of the EIR that exclusively cover city-related improvements only if the resort proceeds. If not they will not receive any of the money they are putting up for the EIR study.

The resort and FEZ  — if they proceed — has the potential of increasing the value of the city’s 140  acres by anywhere from eight to 10-fold over its current value as property tied to land disposal of wastewater according to commercial brokers.

The city has already acquired land to replace the 140 acres about three miles to the south on Hays Road. When more land is needed for such disposal, the city will build a purple pipeline to send the treated wastewater to the rural location.

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