Nut Tree Set For Phase 2
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer
While residents certainly have noticed the new stores, the train and the carousel that are the first part of recreating the Nut Tree landmark, they may not be aware of how much is yet to come.
Snell and Co. of Greenbrae, the author of the first phase of the Nut Tree revitalization, is negotiating another agreement with the city, according to City Manager David Van Kirk. He expects that agreement to come before the City Council within the next month.
"He's trying to do several things in the next phase," said Van Kirk of company owner Roger Snell. "From the city's perspective, the number-one priority on our table is the conference center and hotel."
The agreement, Van Kirk said, calls for a full-service, 200-room hotel and a 20,000 square-foot conference center, the likes of which Solano County and the surrounding area has never seen. The center would accommodate 1,000 people for dining.
"There are not many things like this along the I-80 corridor," Van Kirk said, adding "The first to do it will probably be the one that is successful."
Genentech, Kaiser and Travis Credit Union are just some of the local companies Van Kirk said could patronize such a facility.
"We're getting some major employers now that are looking for that size of a facility," he said. Economic Development Director Mike Palombo added, "We don't have a conference center of sufficient size to accommodate the types of events we'd like to serve."
Brad LaRue of Snell and Co. said the company and the city have an overall agreement for the entire $350 million, 80-acre Nut Tree project. The agreement the parties are hammering out, he said, "enumerates the terms of the hotel development."
"We have a very good relationship with the city of Vacaville," LaRue said.
While he acknowledged that the hotel is a city priority, as well as a Snell priority, LaRue said there is much more to the second phase of the project.
"A lot of the jewels are yet to be uncovered at the Nut Tree," he said. For example, another 100,000 square feet of retail space has yet to be developed between Monte Vista Avenue and the freeway, and nestled between two commercial developments will be a two-acre vineyard along Monte Vista.
"Due to the close proximity of Napa Valley, we wanted to extend that feel to Vacaville," LaRue said. The area designated for the vineyard has been graded, he said, and planting will begin in the spring.
Yet another part of phase two is the construction of 150 medium-density residential units. Snell has selected Delco Builders of Pleasant Hill as a partner in developing those townhomes, which will be located in the northwest part of the project area.
The housing element, Palombo said, would also be unique in the city.
"This is really our first major concentration of townhome-type residential properties," he said.
Denoted in blue on Snell's site plan, posted at www.nuttreeusa.com, is 150,000 square feet of planned office space, also to be completed in the next phase. According to Palombo. "That makes it one of the larger office projects in the city."
The hotel, residential and retail all will be developed at the same time, starting in late 2007, early 2008, LaRue explained. After the hotel is constructed, Snell will continue to own the property but will turn the management over to a hotel company.
The Nut Tree, in its entirety, has a projected completion date of 2010, according to LaRue. He proclaimed the first phase of the massive undertaking "a complete success" and said, "I think a lot of the exciting parts are still yet to come."
"As time progresses, more and more tenants will be opening up," he said, "and there will be more and more special places to go in that part of Vacaville."
Jennifer Gentile can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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