Artist rendering of proposed development at the Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo. (Courtesy photo)

Solano County

Solano fairgrounds proposals take shape

By From page A4 | November 22, 2012

FAIRFIELD — Solano County’s quest to turn its 149-acre fairgrounds in Vallejo into a regional shopping and entertainment draw could ultimately cost $94 million in infrastructure and renovation costs.

Money for public facility financing would come from bonds to be repaid by developer fees, leases and other sources. The private/public development project could be done in phases over 25 years.

That is just some of the information included in the hundreds and hundreds of pages the county has released on the proposed project. The reports include the specific plan, environmental impact report and financial analysis.

If the project comes to fruition, the county and Vallejo would get a revenue-generating “iconic, landmark destination” near the junction of Interstate 80 and Highway 37, the reports said.

Solano County decided in 2000 to renovate the fairgrounds and its aging buildings that date back to 1950. This latest vision differs in some respects from ideas the county explored in 2010 and drastically from ideas it rejected in 2006.

The project includes using 35 acres as a place to stage the annual county fair and other events, with most of the structures being torn down and replaced. Another 49 acres would be used for private development, including shops, restaurants and an area with outdoor rides, much like an amusement park.

Solano County would use a master developer with a long-term ground lease to build the private portions of the project, the reports said. When finished, the renovated fairgrounds could provide 4,600 jobs. Fifty dwellings could be built on the property to help house workers.

The project when finished could bring in $3.7 million annually for the county and the county fair while costing about $500,000 annually, according to a 100-page fiscal report by Goodwin Consulting Group. County expenses would include paying about $150,000 annually for a project manager.

Vallejo when the project is finished could net $1.7 million annually, the report said.

Several impacts that would be caused by the proposed project are “significant and unavoidable,” the draft environmental impact report by Michael Brandman Associates said.

One is increased traffic on the nearby stretch of I-80, The project will contribute money for proposed freeway car pool lanes, but construction of these lanes is not assured, the report said.

The fairgrounds project has skeptics. George Guynn of the Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group addressed the Board of Supervisors about the proposals at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I think the bonds are definitely going to make money for the people who originate them, but I’m not sure about the taxpayers,” he said during public comments.

The latest fairgrounds proposals and reports have yet to go to the board. People can comment on the environmental report through Jan. 10, 2013. Go to www.co.solano.ca.us to see the various reports.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday was to discuss in closed session price and terms for the fairgrounds property with adjacent Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. The agenda item didn’t specify how much of the 149-acre property was involved or for what purpose.

Supervisor Mike Reagan said he couldn’t comment about the talks because of the closed session rules. Should the board take action stemming from a closed session, the decision must be made public. It took no action Tuesday.

The fairgrounds project is being done under the banner of Solano360. Working on it are the county, the Solano County Fair Board and Vallejo.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 5 comments

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  • George Guynn, JrNovember 22, 2012 - 10:27 am

    After going to the link mention in the article, one has to click on Solano 360 on the left side about half way down the webpage. If this project really was as great as the government folk claim, the private section would be jumping at a chance to develop it and it would cost the public nothing. The way the project is proceding now, I see the taxpayer paying a lot of money for a money pit that may put Vallejo in bankruptcy again!

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  • A Different PerspectiveNovember 22, 2012 - 11:24 am

    Once there is a little more light at the end of the economic tunnel, the "private sector" will be jumping at the chance to be involved in the project. This is an opportunity to save Vallejo and provide long-term revenue for the county. It would be irresponsible for the county to let this extremely valuable property sit. The Supes will vote 3-2 or 4-1 to move this initiative along.

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  • Happy Thanksgiving!November 22, 2012 - 12:56 pm

    Stop the real estate speculation already! This is a waste of money and a squandering of our public resources. Redevelopment is gone! And this article says something completely different than what the EIR announcement in the paper, which said the original buildings would remain intact. Vallejo already has a newish shopping complex up on Columbus which has some problems. Why another one? And tying it to Six Flags is not safe. They almost were unable to roll over their debt in Sept 2008. George - it would behoove you to examine some property transfers around the Fair property that the County and City made in the 2008 or so time frame.

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  • Happy Thanksgiving!November 22, 2012 - 1:06 pm

    And finally, one of the last times Vallejo listened to Mr. Keadijian they were snookered into doing whatever Triad wanted to do at the time. It was part of the whole raft of decisions that led to the City's Bankruptcy. Don't do it again.

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  • A Different PerspectiveNovember 24, 2012 - 7:28 am

    Ye of little vision.

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