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Great Wolf no longer lone suitor for resort hotel site
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This is the hotel resort and indoor waterpark layout that Great Wolf proposed for 30 acres. - photo by Photo Contributed

The stakes may have doubled in Manteca’s bid to land a destination resort hotel with an indoor waterpark and conference center.
McWhinney Real Estate — the firm that has been negotiating with the City of Manteca for 30 acres to build a 500-room resort hotel for more than five years while at the same time negotiating with Great Wolf to operate the facility  — wants to bring a new player to the table.
The Manteca City Council on Tuesday is being asked to amend their exclusive negotiating agreement with the Colorado-based McWhinney to go from talking about 30 acres to 67 acres.
McWhinney has been working since October to line-up another partner in the event Great Wolf bails.
Back in September McWhinney informed the city that the new chief executive officer for Great Wolf — Ruben Rodriguez who took over Sept. 22 — wanted to look at locations in the Bay Area.  He wanted to conduct what was termed “due diligence” since the deal wasn’t started on his watch.
McWhinney immediately started contacting other resort operators that had been following the Manteca project’s progress.
They have apparently found one to their liking.
And while it doesn’t mean Great Wolf ultimately won’t be the firm operating a resort in Manteca, it has made the project along the 120 Bypass corridor an even hotter commodity.
City Manager Karen McLaughlin noted the new player needs more land to make the investment work for them. That could mean if they ultimately are the operator their long term plans beyond the first phase may call for significantly more than the 200 to 300 additional rooms that Great Wolf envisioned in a future phase.
The odds are the new player won’t want to tinker significantly with the project’s first phase as it has been envisioned. 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 meant a resort project that size or smaller can proceed. A firm starting from scratch either in the Bay Area or in the Northern San Joaquin Valley would have to first find land and they run through preliminary discussions to even see if it is feasible to spend the money on an EIR and other pre-development documents necessary to make a deal.
And any location in the Bay Area proper that Rodriguez may want Great Wolf to vet will likely come with staunch opposition as projects the size of the proposed resort hotel/indoor waterpark routinely do in the region.
Since McWhinney didn’t ask for an extension of their exclusive negotiating agreement originally approved Dec. 4, 2012 and is set to expire this June 30, the developer may believe it is in a positon now to get someone — Great Wolf or another suitor — to move the project forward.
The resort hotel is envisioned on land the city owns along the 120 Bypass west of Costco.
The City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Manteca Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.