Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Solano County "Fair of the Future" would be first of its kind presented a conceptual plan by Mills Corp

Article Last Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 11:16:54 pm PDT

Solano County "Fair of the Future" would be first of its kind

By Claire St. John

- Solano County Fairgrounds might get a makeover as "The Fair of the Future" with a permanent Ferris wheel, restaurants, entertainment, a hotel and convention center with a water park and 600,000 square feet of retail space.

Solano County supervisors and the Solano County Fair Association were presented with a conceptual plan by Mills Corp. Tuesday night that some lauded as perfect for Vallejo and others said buried the county fair under a mountain of retail.

Plans are very preliminary, said Development Consultant Brian Clark, and community involvement will be actively sought.

"Now is the time that we start to take public comment," Clark told the audience. "We want your ideas."

Specifically, Mills is interested in how to incorporate the history and texture of Solano County into the project.

A series of city council visits and open houses are scheduled for residents to voice opinions on the development, the likes of which hasn't been attempted.

"This is not something that we've ever built before," Clark said.

Instead of being used for two weeks out of the year, the fair facilities would be in use every day, bringing more revenue to the county and more visitors to the fair.

And if the right stores sign on, some people in Vallejo will be very happy.

Two speakers asked Mills Corp. to concentrate on attracting high-end retail, an organic grocery store and a bookstore.

But Fair Board Treasurer Don Heinitz didn't think the plans - no matter what kind of retail was plugged in - reflected what the board wanted.

"It's important that the fair and its identity is still on site," he said. "I think that's something we have to strive for."

Vallejo resident Mary Crane agreed.

"We need to do something, but I don't know if we need to go to this extent," Crane said. "We just had a bookstore go under in downtown Vallejo, because there wasn't enough business to support it. How can we support all of this?"

Crane was also disappointed at the loss of the racetrack.

The 150-acre fairgrounds is located next to Interstate 80 and the amusement park Six Flags Marine World. Last year, the fair association started looking at ways to improve the property and raise more revenue for the fair.

"This valuable piece of property and this valuable location sits here all year," said Fair Director Ray Bell. "We want the fair, but we need to get value 365 days a year, not just 14."

After a series of community meetings, Mills Corp. will present plans to the fair association in September, and the fair association will have until December to approve or deny them.

The required environmental impact report takes an estimated 18 months, and construction will probably take another 18 months, Clark said.

"It's at least a couple of years before construction would begin," he said.

Reach Claire St. John at 427-6955 or

Conceptual plans at a glance: Called "The Fair of the Future" building The Fair at Solano would start with scrapping all current facilities to make room for:

€ A 75,000 square foot exhibition area

€ Space for Solano Community College and community functions

€ New fair administrative offices

€ A market building with a welcome center

€ Year-round Ferris wheel

€ Hotel and convention center with water park

€ 11 restaurants or cafes

€ Residential or office property close to the fair

Solano's Got It!

Solano's Got It!
The Best That Northern California Has To Offer.

Blog Archive