Monday, July 25, 2005

Development of Nut Tree site ready to begin

By Christine Cubé

VACAVILLE - The first phase of a massive $200 million development at Nut Tree breaks ground next month.

City officials and developers are gearing up for the project, which includes 320,000 square feet of retail space and an entertainment park for families and visitors. Retail developer Westrust, which has offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, has already signed on five major retail anchors: Best Buy, Borders, PETsMART, Sport Chalet and HomeGoods.

"We think it's the best lineup in Fairfield or Vacaville," said Ricardo Capretta, regional partner with Westrust, mentioning the retail leases were locked in during the second quarter.

Nut Tree Associates, a joint venture between Rockwood Realty and Snell & Co., is the master land developer for the 80-acre project. Westrust is handling the retail development for 30 acres of the total space.

Subsequent phases of

the project will include

120,000 square feet of office space, 180 townhomes, a limited-service hotel and a hotel and conference center. Developers have not yet secured hotel brands for the project.

When the project is complete, the retail and entertainment components of the Nut Tree are expected to draw

3 million visitors each year, officials said.

That's roughly the same number of tourists who stop at The National Zoo or the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Jim Randolph, senior vice president and director of retail services with Cornish & Carey Commercial in Santa Clara, talked about the scope of the project before a group of real estate investors Thursday. While he admitted some large retail centers and destination concepts do not materialize, he said: "This is a real center that's going to happen."

Special components of the project include bringing back the original Nut Tree train and recreating the hobby horses, said Jill Katz, project manager with Larkspur-based Snell & Co. The train has been stored on the site, she said.

"We're creating a park with seven rides for small children," Katz said, adding visitors will be able to walk through market pavilion buildings with local vendors selling produce and food. "Our goal is to create a place where parents, grandparents and small children will have fun and relax and enjoy themselves."

Project developers are currently working with city officials and city council to hammer out the actual date for the groundbreaking event. The first phase of the project is estimated to be complete by August 2006.

Reach Christine Cubé at 427-6934 or

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