Thursday, February 09, 2006

Nut Tree Grand Opening Likely for August

Nut Tree Grand Opening Likely for August
By Nathan Halverson

FAIRFIELD - Mark your calendars and get your vacations out of the way; the Nut Tree Village and Family Park will likely have a grand opening in August.

The mega-project is a redevelopment of the historic Nut Tree in Vacaville and will feature themed rides, bocce courts, and more than 300,000 square feet of retail space, which is about one-third the size of Westfield Solano mall.

Some retail stores will begin opening as early as June, but the grand opening will be delayed to ensure retailers have what developers call "critical mass," which means between 65 to 70 percent of retailers are open.

"Basically some of our retailers will open in June. But to make sure we have the critical mass we've moved back our grand opening to late July or more likely August," said Sean Whiskeman, a partner with San Francisco-based Westrust, which handles retail development for the $200 million first phase of the redevelopment project.

All the events and details still need to be coordinated with city officials, retailers and developers, Whiskeman said.

Westrust has already signed seven major retail stores for the development: Best Buy, Borders, PetSmart, Sport Chalet, HomeGoods, Old Navy and Beverages and More, which is a wine and liquor store.

In total, Nut Tree Village will include 320,000 square feet of retail space, and have about another 20,000 in office space.

The Harbison House, which is the original home of Nut Tree founders Helen and "Bunny" Powers, has been moved to its final resting spot at the center of what will be the Nut Tree Family Park.

The park will likely open in July as employees begin testing the amusement park rides in preparation for the grand opening.

"We'll probably have a grand opening for the whole thing, and also have a few what we call soft openings before then," said Matt Sharkey, marketing director for Snell & Co., the project manager for the Nut Tree development.

Sharkey said the grand opening date will likely be set in May or later.

"Once April is done and the weather patterns become much more predictable, we'll be able to pin down a date," he said.

The heavy rains that fell during New Year's weekend set the project back about 10 days as construction was halted to wait for mud to dry out, according to Sharkey.

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. When the project is complete, the retail and entertainment components of the Nut Tree are expected to draw 3 million visitors a year.

Reach Nathan Halverson at 425-4646 ext. 267 or

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