WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you support the proposal to bring Great Wolf Resorts to Manteca along with 500 permanent jobs that would include restricted access to the indoor water park for hotel guests only except on limited access days for local residents? (A second phase water park would have universal access.) To vote whether you favor or disfavor such a project go to www.mantecabulletin.com and scroll down to the poll question.
News that the Manteca City Council is preparing a memorandum of understanding with the development firm of McWhinney and Great Wolf Resorts to develop a two-phased project that ultimately could include a 600-room hotel, 60,000-square-foot conference center and indoor water park stirred up responses from city residents that they didn’t like the idea of not being able to access the water park unless they book a room. The resort is being proposed on 30 acres owned by the city along the Highway 120 Bypass west of Costco.
“If day use passes or year round passes are not in the proposed plan, the city council should look into proposing this idea, and or making this ‘mandatory’ prior to approving this project,” commented Manteca resident Natalie Kane. “It wouldn’t be right to ‘force’ people (living within the city, or surrounding cities) into staying at a hotel, just to use the water park.”
Kane was one of 10 readers to e-mail the Bulletin to express unhappiness with the indoor water park being available only to hotel guests. Some of the comments appear on Page A4 in the Bulletin's print edition.
Part of the second phase would be a 40,000-square-foot outdoor water park immediately adjacent to the Big League Dreams complex on seven acres across the street from the proposed Great Wolf Resorts site. That water park would be accessible to anyone who paid the entrance fees.
City Manager Steve Pinkerton said it is too early to determine if the firms the city is now negotiating with would be the ones to build and operate that water park or if someone else would. It is part of an overall 110-acre family entertainment zone.
Pinkerton said a free-standing water park would have difficulty making it on its own financially. That is why a consulting firm is examining various uses that could be lured into the zone in conjunction with the water park including an amphitheatre.
At one time, Oakwood Lake Resort had an amphitheatre that accommodated roughly 5,000 people and routinely had big name acts booked to play next door to the waterslides.
She did add that they do work with local communities where they are located to provide access days for the community as well as options for locals to book birthday parties at the resorts.
Manteca Mayor Weatherford said he favored a much more liberal access for Manteca residents.
“That’s just my opinion,” Weatherford said. “It is still way too early in the process and I intend to make that a big point.”
Pinkerton emphasized that as well noting “serious negotiations have yet to get underway” about precisely how the proposal would work. The city would also have to vet the numbers to make sure that makes economic sense for the city to proceed.
Bill Filios of AKF Development, who brought Great Wolf Resorts and the City of Manteca together, said he understood concerns and the strong emotional ties to the community has to water slides as his wife once worked at the Manteca Water Slides.
He emphasized that the deal - if it pans out - would bring 500 permanent jobs plus hotel room tax that could bring between $4 million and $6 million a year to the city to spend on public services such as police, fire, streets, and parks. That is based on an average room rent of $300 with a special zone room tax of 15 percent which would generate $45 per room per night of occupancy.
How that works is if the resort averaged only 60 percent occupancy they would fill 240 rooms at $300 at night. That would generate $72,000 plus another $10,800 in room tax at 15 percent. That multiplied by 365 days would generate $3,942,000 in room tax a year that would go directly to the city.
If every room was booked every day of the year - which would not happen - the city would receive $6.5 million.
“What is key for Manteca residents and those on surrounding communities are the other family entertainment (venues) that Great World and Big League Dreams would attract to the 110 acres,” Filios said. “All of (those uses) would be accessible to anyone.”
That would include a second water park.
McWhinney and Great Wolf resorts are moving forward with their first location in California in Garden Grove just 1.5 miles from Disneyland. It will have 600 rooms, three acres of indoor and outdoor water parks, a 1,000-vehcile parking structure, and a 30,000-square-foot conference center. Garden Grove is providing the land and partnering with the two firms to develop the project.
The two-phase Manteca proposal represents between a $180 million and $200 million investment. The first phase would consist of 400 rooms, half of the conference center, and a 70,000-square-foot indoor water park. (By comparison the Manteca Wal-Mart has 80,000 square feet). The second phase would add 200 rooms to the 6-story hotel, finish the conference center and the separate 40,000-square-foot water park.
Greta Wolf Resorts - if a deal can be reached - hopes to break ground in Manteca either in April or October of 2011.