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Great Wolf land deal talks
City determining price for 30 acres for indoor water park resort
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A bucket splash at a Great Wolf indoor water park. - photo by Photo Contributed

It could end up as the biggest land deal in terms of impacting the City of Manteca’s bottom line.

The City Council on Tuesday is expected to discuss the market value for land that just eight years ago had minimal value as it was set aside for field disposal of treated wastewater.

Today the 30 acres fronting the 120 Bypass just west of Costco could become home to California’s first major indoor water park and hotel. It could ultimately bring in between $4 million and $6 million in room taxes annually into the general fund to help pay for basic services such as police, fire, streets, and parks.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin, Manteca’s Economic Development Manager Don Smail, and ANF Development representatives will discuss the price and possible terms for the 30 acres. It is land where Great Wolf Resorts ultimately may build and manage a 300- to 600-room hotel, 75,000-square-foot indoor water park, and 30,000-square-foot conference center on behalf of McWhinney Development of Colorado.

Great Wolf and city representatives including ANF Development have been meeting for more than a year on the project. Both sides have invested a large amount of time in running numbers and various scenarios.

ANF Development made initial contacts with Great Wolf Resorts acting as a city-paid consultant. It is similar to a role they assumed in helping to bring Poag & McEwen - developers and owners of The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley anchored by Bass Pro Shops - into contact with property owners south of the 120 Bypass and the city. ANF Development also played a role in opening doors for Pulte Homes to develop Del Webb at Woodbridge.

Great Wolf Resorts would provide 500 year-round jobs. It is expected to draw other family entertainment-related businesses to locate in Manteca. Just as big a stake is the estimated $4 million to $6 million in room taxes that conservative projections by the city show a 600-room Great Wolf Resort could generate in a typical year. The lower figure is equal to almost a quarter of the $26 million the city now collects for all existing revenue sources each year to pay for general fund operations ranging from police and fire to parks and streets.

The most likely scenario is the city sells the land to Great Wolf at fair market value and that Manteca Redevelopment Agency invest in infrastructure such as streets and main lines for sewer, water, and storm drainage to open up the 30 acres and another 75 acres owned by the city for family-style entertainment. That would mean Manteca would be investing only in public improvements much as they did on the extension of Daniels Street to open the door for the Stadium Retail Center.

 A final decision on RDA money hinges on what the state high court decides in a lawsuit filed against the state by the California Redevelopment Association and League of California Cities. The two associations of local governments contend the estate exceeded their authority in essentially seizing RDA funds.

Even if the courts ultimately side with the state, it doesn’t necessarily mean the death of the project. The city has fairly sizeable reserves in the RDA accounts for such investments. Even so, the city has historically made sure it has had ample cushion between annual debt load and the needed RDA tax income to cover loan payments and other ongoing costs.

It also becomes more of a bigger issue though in terms of what is the top priority for Manteca - getting Great Wolf to build or some other project - when it comes to RDA funds.

The $200 million private sector investment required to build Great Wolf is also expected to create 1,000 construction jobs and draw 40,000 resort visitors a year to cement Manteca as a legitimate tourist attraction.

Ultimately, the indoor water park could be expanded to 110,000 square feet, making it just smaller than the Manteca Target Store.

No reportable action is expected from Tuesday’s closed door session that takes place before the council meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.