Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nut Tree developer, city of Vacaville retool agreement

Nut Tree developer, city retool agreement

By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

Article Launched: 11/14/2007 05:52:21 AM PST

As a result of a Vacaville City Council meeting Tuesday, the master developer of the Nut Tree complex received a two-year time extension on the project and is no longer obligated to build the city a hotel/conference center.

These were two of the proposed changes to the Disposition and Development Agreement with Snell and Co., which is known as Nut Tree Associates, LLC, for the purpose of the project. The agreement originally was approved in 2003 and had undergone two amendments prior to Tuesday night.

Snell was chosen to develop the 80-acre property along Monte Vista Avenue, thereby returning a Vacaville landmark to its former glory. Residents and visitors already have taken advantage of a new family park, bocce grove and dozens of stores on the property. The next phases will include office space, a residential component and more retail.

The City Council approved the latest set of amendments by unanimous vote. One of the main changes was a two-year extension to the project timeline. As it was, the development agreement required Snell to purchase a total of 50 acres of the property by February 2008.

In September, citing financial constraints, Snell announced it could not build a hotel/conference center at the Nut Tree. While the city has not given up on the project, it chose to remove this component from its agreement with the firm.

According to Assistant City Manager Laura Kuhn, a 8.08-acre site has been selected for the facility.

"This site, we believe, would accommodate a 200-room hotel" at least four stories tall, Kuhn said, and a 15,000-square-foot conference center.

She added that the city is in talks with another developer about the project and is hoping those talks result in a proposal. If that route fails, she said, "We'll be going out into the development community"

Another business hotel, planned to be built west of Best Buy, was scrapped under the amended agreement and replaced with retail space.

Another approved amendment requires Nut Tree Associates to deposit $37,800 with the city to offset the expense of landscaping and lighting maintenance work until a landscaping and lighting district can be established. Nut Tree Associates is also responsible for building a non-potable water pump, which will be operated by the Solano Irrigation District.

The city, in turn, must grant easements for two pylon signs, for which Nut Tree Associates will pay $2.34 per square foot. Another amendment requires master guidelines to be set for the use of trademarks, stating that ownership of trademarks will be transferred to Nut Tree Associates when it has acquired 52 acres of the Nut Tree Property.

When it came time to vote, the council members were united in their praise of Roger Snell of Snell and Co. and the firm's work so far.

"This was one of the most troubled pieces of property in the city of Vacaville," said Councilwoman Pauline Clancy, adding, "I think (Snell) has done wonderful things ... ."

Councilman Steve Wilkins agreed, and said, "Mr. Snell's done a remarkable job." He added, "It has not been the easiest road for him to plow and pave" at times due to economic conditions.

Wilkins also mentioned Snell's various contributions to the community aside from developing the Nut Tree, including those that benefit youth and senior citizens.

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

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