By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Prenuptial talks next for Great Wolf
One year to make case for Manteca site
McWhinney Real Estate Services is intensifying its evaluation of possibly building a Great Wolf Resort on 30 acres of city owned land just west of Costco along the 120 Bypass. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The courtship involving Great Wolf Resorts and the City of Manteca is getting a bit more serious.

McWhinney Real Estate Services - the Colorado-based development firm that wants to bankroll the actual building of what could be up to a 600-room resort hotel with a 70,000-square-foot indoor water park and a conference center - now wants the City Council to enter into an exclusive negotiation agreement.

In essence, McWhinney is ready to fashion what is the development world’s equivalent of a prenuptial agreement. It will then be up to city leaders to decide if the “partnership” as ultimately outlined is worth pursuing.

It means McWhinney will have 11 months to lay all of its cards on the table to make the case not simply to acquire use of 30 acres of city owned land west of Costco but also whether the potential tax and economic impacts could justify city investment in infrastructure such a streets and public utilities to make the site developable.

It also means McWhinney is ready to possibly move forward toward construction almost two years after first being lured to Manteca to consider the community for a Great Wolf Resort. The improving economy is one reason why McWhinney is ready to move the Manteca resort proposal to the point that they can determine internally whether to proceed or cut bait.

Previously, the city had been in talks with Great Wolf Resorts directly. The resort operator brought in McWhinney as the developer. The current plan of the two partners is to have McWhinney build and own the resort if it proceeds with Great Wolf managing it.

The exclusive negotiating agreement is before the council during tonight’s 7 o’clock meeting at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

The document before the council tonight is to authorize an agreement to evaluate land assembly and infrastructure needs. A second agreement that steps up the due diligence process will be presented to the council on Dec. 18. That document will be to negotiate the actual development of a hotel and conference center.

The agreement is for a year with McWhinney required to provide project proposal materials to the city no less than 30 days before the exclusive negotiating agreement expires. McWhinney is also required to provide progress reports every 90 days.

Essentially that means Manteca can’t negotiate with any other developer over potential use of the land for a year.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin noted in her report to the council about the exclusive negotiating agreement that simply entering into it won’t incur any cost to the city. She pointed out, though, that the hotel and meeting facility could have “significant” potential fiscal impact including the use of redevelopment bond proceeds and financial return to the city through additional property, sales and hotel room taxes.

The city will have upwards of $45 million in redevelopment bond proceeds that are being returned to the city’s control later this year after the state completes cleaning up its takeover of redevelopment agencies. City leaders have said if any city money is involved in the project such as RDA funds it will only go toward infrastructure to serve the parcel and another 90 acres that the city owns and wants to see developed as an entertainment zone. They generally would include storm drains, the public street and sidewalks, sewer and water pipelines, as well as utility improvements such as phone and natural gas lines.

It is a mirror of what the city did to extend Daniels Drive to allow Kitchell Development to build the Stadium Retail Center anchored by Kohl’s and Costco.

The proposed Manteca indoor water park that could have as many as 600 hotel rooms and a conference center reflects an investment of up to $200 million. 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.