Great Wolf Resort — after walking away from a Manteca deal 15 months ago — has stepped up its efforts to locate in Brentwood 35 miles away in eastern Contra Costa County.
The Brentwood City Council on Tuesday voted to enter into an exclusive negation agreement (ENA) and spend $275,000 on a third party to analyze the financial impacts of the Great Wolf proposal to build 400 to 500 rooms in the initial phase, expand to possibly 700 rooms, construct a 25,000-square-foot conference center and build an indoor waterpark and family entertainment center on 50 acres.
Manteca is currently dealing with another Wisconsin-based water park operator that wants to locate where Great Wolf was going to build but instead of only 30 acres it involves more than 60 acres west of Costco on city-owned land along the 120 Bypass.
Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum Thursday confirmed reports that private sector financial experts based in Sacramento are pouring over financial documents connected with plans for another waterpark operator that McWhinney Development —the firm Manteca entered into its own ENA to do the necessary legwork — to build in Manteca.
DeBrum declined to speculate where the negotiations are currently at except to emphasize “we will not do anything that is not in Manteca’s best financial interest.”
Great Wolf in 2015 opened California’s first indoor waterpark resort near Disneyland. That came after opening the first West Coast indoor waterpark report on the West Coast in Ground Mound, Washington.
Great Wolf back in Wisconsin has a number of competitors in close proximity in an area known as Wisconsin Dells. They are:
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. 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. It is only 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 indicated 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.
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 two interchanges — the other being Airport Way — that are a mile apart.
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