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GREAT WOLF ON THE PROWL

Gilroy may now be getting cold shoulder

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GREAT WOLF ON THE PROWL

The Great Wolf Lodge in Ground Mountain, Washington

Photo contributed/


POSTED October 6, 2017 1:20 a.m.

Is Great Wolf Lodge casting its lot with Manteca?
Reports out of Gilroy this week have elected city leaders in that city south of San Jose saying the water park resort has virtually written off locating there in favor of Manteca.
That news comes after Great Wolf started talking to Brentwood in Contra Costa County in December of 2016 about the possibility of locating there. Great Wolf entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Brentwood in January 2017 some 15 months after walking away from talks with Colorado-based McWhinney Development Co. that is working with Manteca to develop a major waterpark resort site on 30 to 62 acres on municipal land west of Costco along the 120 Bypass.
On Monday, Gilroy City Councilman Fred Tovar posted that the Great Wolf Lodge was choosing Manteca over the City of Gilroy but later removed the post on Tuesday, according to the Gilroy Dispatch.  It was the feeling that the deal with the lodge had slipped away, but had it, a Dispatch reporter asked this week. In private conversations just days ago, Gilroy council members who had been negotiating with the resort said that the water park and hotel chain preferred a more shovel-ready site and Manteca is virtually ready to go.  Gilroy would have to go through months and possibly years of work and environmental review, they noted. The Dispatch reported Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco seemed to indicate Monday during the Gilroy Council meeting that the Great Wolf deal was off the table but said they could possibly be talking again in the future. “As the community knows, the exclusivity period has expired,” the mayor was quoted as saying, “between Gilroy and the Great Wolf Lodge and they have indicated they would be exploring other possible locations that better fit what they want.  They are making a business decision to find a place where they can break ground immediately.”     The Gilroy mayor quoted Manteca City Manager Tim Ogden as saying that Manteca “had an initial conversation with Great Wolf this week and they are waiting to hear more.”  Velasco added that Ogden shared Manteca was told they would be making a decision on a Northern California location soon but they didn’t say more. 
Manteca has almost completed $8 million worth of infrastructure needed to develop a water park resort and the proposed adjoining family entertainment zone between Big League Dreams and McKinley Avenue. Altogether when road improvements are included, Manteca has $15 million riding on the overall 210 acres split between the resort site and the family entertainment zone.
Equally as important, the Manteca location has a certified environmental impact report that means all that is required to start work on a resort is sealing a deal. The EIR process took Manteca 18 months to complete given there was no opposition.
Thirty acres have been approved 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.
Anything larger — Great Wolf when they originally were negotiating with McWhinney for the Manteca site in earnest in 2010 indicated they were possibly interested in adding 250 more rooms to increase the hotel to 750 rooms in a future phase — needs the McKinley Avenue interchange at the 120 Bypass to be built. That was a condition Caltrans required.
Manteca has since pushed forward with that project and plans to break ground on the interchange in late 2018.
After Great Wolf backed off in late 2014 when the EIR was being wrapped up saying they wanted to look at other sites in the Bay Area, McWhinney went looking for another resort operator to partner with in Manteca.
That brought Kalahari Resorts to the table.
Kalahari Resorts has been building hotels as large as 977 rooms with 230,000-square-foor conference centers, and 220,000-square-foot indoor water parks. They requested 62 acres for the potential project that includes a lot of entertainment features such as go-carts, Flow Riders (a water surfer pool), and restaurants that they reportedly wanted exclusivity to effectively nixing some of Manteca’s visions for the family entertainment zone planned across the street along the future extension of Daniels Street.
Great Wolf in 2015 opened California’s first indoor waterpark resort near Disneyland. That came after opening the first West Coast indoor waterpark resort on the West Coast in Ground Mound, Washington.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email gkahl@mantecabulletin.com

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