Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Nut Tree master plan approved

Developer says the mixed-use project at the 80-acre site will generate more than $3 million in annual tax revenue and create hundreds of jobs.

By Patricia Valenzuela/Staff Writer

It didn't take long for the Vacaville City Council to approve a Nut Tree master plan Tuesday night.

The council unanimously approved the plan for retail shops, restaurants, office space and housing on the 80-acre site, but also brought forward some concerns.

Larkspur-based developer Roger Snell and April Philips, of April Philips Design Works Inc., have touted the development as a world-class project that will bring back the Nut Tree's reputation as a California landmark.

"This project offers promise for a portion of Vacaville that we highly treasure. I want to see that promise fulfilled," Councilman Steve Wilkins said.

Snell spoke briefly, but highlighted the project's uniqueness and the economic benefits it will bring. Snell said the project will generate about $1.8 million in annual property taxes and $1.5 million in annual sales tax revenue. He also said the project will create 1,300 jobs, along with hundreds of jobs for construction workers.

It is unclear when construction will start.

Construction on the first phase should begin in February, according to the disposition and development agreement Snell has with the city. However, Snell has applied for a construction delay that would place the mandated construction start date in June to allow for additional time obtaining permits.

Snell is hopeful construction could begin in the spring. The city has not granted the request at present time, but is expected to provide the extension, according to Community Development Director Ron Rowland.

The first phase of construction requires a minimum of 20 acres of retail shops and parks. Two parks, a three-acre amusement park and a bocce grove, are planned for the development.

Each councilmember expressed support for the project.

Councilman Steve Hardy reaffirmed his desire to have quality retail shops at the Nut Tree. Later, Vice Mayor Pauline Clancy and Mayor Len Augustine addressed Hardy's concerns by explaining that the city's demographics dictate which businesses will move into Vacaville.

Snell plans to announce the anchor tenants by Oct. 31.

Councilwoman Rischa Slade expressed her concern with the lack of bicycle racks. Slade spoke during the public hearing portion to relay a concern from a constituent who could not attend the meeting.

Only one person spoke during the public hearing.

Norm Weaver asked a question about the access roads to the retail shops. When his question was answered, he complimented the project.

Slade later said she wants the project to evoke memories the way the old Nut Tree did for many generations.

"I am hoping this could be something special. It's going to be beautiful. I know that ... but one of the things I would like to see remain is its charm and distinction," she said.

Patricia Valenzuela can be reached at

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