Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Vallejo and Six Flags may ink new deal

Article Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2005

City and Six Flags may ink new deal

Agreement calls for $7M commitment to parking garage

By CHRIS G. DENINA, Times-Herald staff writer

Vallejo may have a buyer for Six Flags Marine World if the city promises to commit as much as $7 million for a new public parking garage.

Six Flags Inc. was close to buying the city-owned theme park last year, but backed out, citing concerns over lost parking if a developer redevelops the nearby Solano County Fairgrounds.

The Vallejo City Council today plans a public hearing on a new deal with the Oklahoma City-based theme park operator. Under the new terms, Six Flags would get five more years to decide if it wants to buy the park for an estimated $52 million.

"We fully intend to exercise our option to purchase the park within that period of time," said park spokesman Paul Garcia.

Under the current arrangement, Six Flags runs the park, sharing its profits with the city - roughly $2 million a year. If the company buys Marine World, the city instead would charge an operation fee that could bring in an estimated $750,000 annually.

The parties said it's too early to say what kind of parking structure would be built. The deal only says 2,450 spaces are needed. Marine World has nearly 3,000 spaces on its property.

The Redevelopment Agency would put up the city's contribution to the public garage. The rest would likely come from the county, theme park operator and fairgrounds developer.

"All that's a work in progress as to the long-term parking," City Manager Roger Kemp said. He declined to further discuss details of the proposal, saying real estate negotiations are confidential.

Six Flags officials wanted assurances parking would be available if Marine World loses its overflow parking at the fairgrounds. That soon may be the case. An Arlington, Va.-based company is in talks to overhaul the fairgrounds property.

The Mills Corp. hopes to build a year-round shopping center and new facilities for the annual fair. The developer has until Sept. 15 to present an early master plan to the county and fair officials.

It's too soon for anyone to make plans for building a new parking garage, said General Manager Joseph Barkett of Solano County Fair Association.

"We'd hate for the city to get locked in now before we know where everything's headed," Barkett said.

If the fairgrounds project moves forward, the area will need plenty of road and parking improvements, he said.

"We just want everybody to keep their options open until we know what the best approach is," Barkett said.

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