FAIRFIELD — Solano County has some big decisions to make in coming years on how to redevelop its 149-acre fairgrounds property in Vallejo, with a $94 million, 25-year plan on the table.
The county is thinking big. It wants to transform an aging, underutilized fairgrounds into what a county report calls “an iconic, region-serving public entertainment destination.”
At one time, the annual fair used much of the property. People came for such events as horse racing. But horse racing is gone and much of the land now sits unused.
Solano County’s plan calls for renovating 35 acres for the five-day, annual Solano County Fair. Existing buildings would be improved. A 20,000-square-foot exhibition hall would be replaced with a 72,000-square-foot hall, with the idea of attracting more events and revenues year-round to the property.
The county also has plans for the remaining 114 acres. A Main Street, USA-style area with shops and restaurants would be created along a creek flowing through a park-like setting. Visitors might be able to use pedal boats in the creek. An amusement park could offer rides year-round.
This reborn fairgrounds would be a mix of public development and private development on leased land, with the county remaining the landowner.
A financing plan calls for the county to issue bonds in phases to pay for renovations and for new roads, sewer lines and other infrastructure. Fairground revenues, property taxes and development are to ultimately pay for the bonds and turn the venture into a money-maker, if all goes as envisioned.
Solano County could lose $3.3 million over the first five years of the project, a county report said. But it should make $7.1 million from years six to 15, the report said.
When completed, the project is to bring in $3.7 million annually for the county while costing $500,000 annually. Vallejo could net $1.7 million annually, the report said.
The county has used $4.4 million from its general fund to plan the venture. This money is to be repaid when the project begins making money.
Whoever is elected to the Board of Supervisors will have a major influence on what happens next. The county has finished the major planning for the project and will turn its attention to financing initial phases.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.