The Blackstone Group — viewed as the largest alternative investment firm in the world — is bullish on Great Wolf Resorts.
So bullish that the firm is reportedly nearing a deal to buy the indoor waterpark resort company for at least $2.9 billion from owner Centerbridge Partners.
Great Wolf is currently building a $180 million resort in Manteca targeted to open in mid-2020. It includes a 500-room hotel that will be the largest in the Central Valley that stretches from Redding to Bakersfield. It will also include a 51,000-quare-foot family entertainment center/lobby, 12,000 square feet of meeting rooms, a 16,000-square-foot restaurant/ food court, and a 100,000-square-foot indoor water park.
The overall complex is 510,000 square feet. That will make it the largest non-distribution center building in Manteca in terms of floor space. It will be just over three times the size of the 140,000-square-foot Costco store next door that is currently the largest.
Great Wolf also has an option on additional land for a possible future expansion.
Great Wolf will provide 500 jobs with about half expected to be fulltime positions and the rest part-time jobs that will also encompass youth employment opportunities.
Blackstone at the end of 2019 held $470 billion in assets.
Centerbridge has owned Great Wolf since 2015 when the firm purchased the resorts from Apollo Global Management. Blackstone has raised $20.5 billion to invest in real estate prior to making the unsolicited bid for Great Wolf.
Blackstone has a successful investment history with theme parks. Blackstone almost tripled its investment over seven years with the purchase of SeaWorld Entertainment. Three months ago they were part of a $6.1 billion deal to acquire Legoland theme parks.
Blackstone is apparently attracted by theme parks that are benefiting from a continuing trend of higher consumer spending when it comes to leisure and travel activities that often include staycations with a drive of several hours that Great Wolf Lodge targets.
Great Wolf had 11 resorts when Centerbridge purchased the firm from Apollo. They have extended that number to 17 and are in the process of building two more locations. The other location bedsides Manteca is Salt Water, Arizona.
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