Monday, May 14, 2007

City to Roll Red Carpet For Investors

City to Roll Red Carpet For Investors
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

Dozens of developers and real estate professionals will see the best the city has to offer Wednesday, when the tradition of the Vacaville VIP day resumes after a long hiatus.

May 16 marks the first VIP Day in the city in about a decade. The red carpet will be rolled out for approximately 225 professionals from Sacramento to the Bay Area.

VIP Day stood for Vacaville Industrial Parks Day, thus the double entendre, according to Sandy Person of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, who has been involved with the event from the start. Person described it as "an innovative way to invite top-level brokers, developers and real estate executives to see the wonderful opportunities Vacaville has to offer."

She added, "It has had real success in its run."

The event is a cooperative effort comprising the city and the Chamber of Commerce, the Solano EDC and a number of private businesses. A steering committee has put the event together.

Explaining why a VIP Day had not happened for so long, Person said the steering group has spent its time and resources over the past several years creating, an online property database used by real estate brokers charged with finding new homes for companies and industries.

"We wanted to be part of the online culture," she said, adding, "I don't think the group decided it wouldn't do (VIP Day). It decided we needed to take a break."

City Economic Development Manager Mike Palombo said, "The people who organized were a little fatigued by it. The return (on investment) for the time and energy put into it just dwindled."

In 2007, Palombo said, "There is something to show" in Vacaville. What might have been works in progress as recently as a year or two ago have become community assets.

"A lot of things have changed in Vacaville in 10 years," Palombo said. "There is a lot of curiosity in the real estate world about what has been done and what is left to do."

After 10 years, Person said, "Vacaville has such a great story to tell." She referred to "magnificent growth and economic development" that includes but is not limited to the Genentech expansion, the new Nut Tree, Kaiser and the State Fund project.

A bus tour will take guests past these hot spots and others, starting at the Market Pavilion in the Nut Tree Development and proceeding to downtown sites like the police station and town square, as well as the Vaca Valley Business Park, the Lagoon Valley area, the factory stores and various areas of growth and expansion.

Palombo said, "the focus is on commercial and industrial property," adding, "The tour will go through all of the industrial parks and major retail areas."

Committee Chair Patsy Van Ouwerkerk said the tour should last around an hour and a half. After a gourmet luncheon, guests will hear from real estate developer Luis Belmonte of Seven Hills Properties in San Francisco. His firm develops neighborhood retail centers and multi-family residential properties.

Approximately 3,000 invitations were sent out, and the last RSVP date was May 10. Registration begins Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. and is followed by a continental breakfast and a welcome address from Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine.

Literature for the event encourages visitors to "follow the leaders," and see for themselves why companies like Genentech, Johnson and Johnson, Mariani and State Fund have located in Vacaville.

"The purpose is to better acquaint them and get them connected," Person said, "and show them that Vacaville is a great place to do business."

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

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