Great Wolf Lodge Resort, Controversial Garden Grove Development, Set to Break Ground in December w/$5 Million Subsidy

great_wolf.jpg
City of Garden Grove
The Garden Grove City Council took another step towards aggressively redeveloping the Harbor Boulevard corridor recently rechristened as the "Grove District." During last night's meeting, residents were centered on complaints of coyotes on the west side, but there was a familiar wolf in the hen house.

Mayor Bruce Broadwater and the rest of the council moved forward to implement a funding mechanism approved last April for the construction of the low-income resident-displacing Great Wolf Lodge Water Park Resort that is now scheduled to break ground on December 9, 2013.

The project was originally slated for redevelopment money years ago, but the model has been tweaked with the dissolution of all such agencies in California. Senior Project Manager Greg Blodgett's summation of the staff report during yesterday's meeting was whisked through in under two minutes. Afterward, Mayor "Bulldozer" Broadwater and crew did what they usually do: unanimously vote to implement the city's subsidization.

As a result, Garden Grove MXD, Inc., a developer entity of Colorado-based McWhinney Enterprises, will receive $5 million upfront this December when construction begins. The city also agreed to front $42 million to the Great Wolf Lodge thirty days after its grand opening. Hopes are high to have the project completed by June 30, 2015.

"The proposed opening date of the Hotel is very important to the Developer," the agenda report reads, "because summer 2015 is the 60th anniversary of Disneyland."

Given the close proximity to Anaheim's resort area and the theme park itself, the Great Wolf Lodge is looking to capitalize on the occasion. The $300 million hotel resort will offer a minimum of 600 rooms with a possible addition of 200 more. A parking garage and one or more planned restaurants are also set to be constructed. Once completed, the indoor-outdoor waterpark in Garden Grove will be the company's largest in the United States.

The city is ready to "convey" the land to the developer now that all pre-conditions have been met including the razing of a municipally-owned low-income RV park and the displacement of its residents. Testier times have greeted Garden Grove's council chambers, but last night's move to implement the April 2013 agreement for the Great Wolf Lodge was met by deflated opposition to a battle long lost.

In the previous meeting, a $25,000 contract was awarded to Tait & Associates, the private civil engineering firm of current Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, for mapping and consulting services on the waterpark site. The private and political connections between Tait and the Great Wolf Lodge's developer have been fodder for the Mayor's detractors at odds with his recent public opposition to hotel subsidies in Anaheim.

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21 comments
spectroman71
spectroman71

I'm pretty ignorant on the political side of all this, but it does sound like GG is using an awful lot of City funds to make this happen.  What ever happened to a resort funding their own development, and then succeeding off the profit?  If it's so "risky" then neither party should have agreed to it.

Separately ~

FINALLY, a ground break date!  Jeez, that was endless.  The trailer park could have stayed another 3 years, for Pete's sake.  And really - June 2015 as a hopeful target date? 19 months, yet all of Disneyland was built in less than 12 months..what has happened to construction anymore?  Skeleton crews or what?

NotReally
NotReally

@kbfblog  If that is your clearest memory, I suggest for your own good that you take a cognitive impairment test. As one of the MANY concerned residents (myself 3 miles away, not backyard visible) who spent 3 years examining the EIR and other documents WITH the D'land - adjacent neighbors, and 2 days at the Project hearing, to discover it paid mere lip service to reasonable concerns about neighborhood quality, for a Council more concerned, as were its authors, that it had 2 covers on it, labeled 'EIR', than about the contents. Residents,who by the way, expressed numerous and constant pleas for City help, as well as WALKING THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS to cure blight elements you mention with REAL SOLUTIONS (policing, city agency work, etc) vs your straw man panacea of Park expansion as savior. The 'vacant lots' were tied up BY Disney, waiting for project approval. Most there have since voted the only successful way, WITH THEIR FEET, taking their neighborhood pride and middle class incomes ELSEWHERE, leaving increased density and 'calls for service' to replace them. The 'success' of the adjacent Cerritos Ave area was due to a SEPARATE Tax-funded partnership that BOUGHT OUT AND REHABBED all the multi-unit housing to the west, NOT the presence of the park expansion. Who has gone back and audited the books to see if any, much less all of the projects 'promises' of quality of life improvements came true? CERTAINLY NOT YOU!

NotReally
NotReally

And BTW, OCW, your link about 'fodder for Tait's detractors' comes up 'URL NOT FOUND"- No stop to them, who proceed, fodder or no, but if you could repair the link, I'D like to learn more! Thx 

NotReally
NotReally

@kbsblog,     If that is your clearest memory, I suggest for your own good that you take a cognitive impairment test. As one of the MANY concerned residents (myself 3 miles away, not backyard visible) who spent 3 years examining the EIR and other documents WITH the D'land - adjacent neighbors, and 2 days at the Project hearing, to discover it paid mere lip service to reasonable concerns about neighborhood quality, for a Council more concerned, as were its authors, that it had 2 covers on it, labeled 'EIR', than about the contents. Residents,who by the way, expressed numerous and constant pleas for City help, as well as WALKING THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS to cure blight elements you mention with REAL SOLUTIONS (policing, city agency work, etc) vs your straw man panacea of Park expansion as savior. The 'vacant lots' were tied up BY Disney, waiting for project approval. Most there have since voted the only successful way, WITH THEIR FEET, taking their neighborhood pride and middle class incomes ELSEWHERE, leaving increased density and 'calls for service' to replace them. The 'success' of the adjacent Cerritos Ave area was due to a SEPARATE Tax-funded partnership that BOUGHT OUT AND REHABBED all the multi-unit housing to the west, NOT the presence of the park expansion. Who has gone back and audited the books to see if any, much less all of the projects 'promises' of quality of life improvements came true? CERTAINLY NOT YOU!

kbfblog
kbfblog

The battle between locals wanting the status quo, and an large company wanting to build something nice in the community are the same battles that I so clearly remember when Disney proposed the Disneyland Resort expansion, and then, Westcott Center, back in the early 1990’s.Local residents wanted nothing to do with an expanded theme park and the traffic, crowds, cost, etc. that came with it.They were very happy to keep the area surrounding Disneyland just the way it was.Empty fields, mis-match signage, prostitutes, crumbing roads, etc.Anything but an expanded and improved resort.

I’m excited to see Great Wolf come to Garden Grove because it’s something nice, something upscale, and will bring in money to the local economy by those who have the money to spend…out of town tourists. Locals have plenty of attractions to see, including Soak City, which is a fine water park.And there’s nothing keeping local residents from saving some money with a goal to visit Great Wolf with their own family.

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

As a victim of the Garden Grove police department for over 16 years and former property owner in Garden Grove for 20 years (I called it Garden Grove hellhouse), I understand what the monied / power people of GG are capable of behind your backs. So what thoughts come to mind when I read this article.

1. The ridiculous pricing is designed to keep the locals out - the darker the skin color the more likely this outcome.

2. Adolf Hitler named his first German Shephard "Wolf". The wolf symbol is strewn throughout Nazi lore.

Knowing how heinous and criminal this police department can be (including the civilians who aid and abet it), these were my 2 thoughts.

Not kidding.

http://doglawreporter.blogspot.com/2010/06/nazi-myth-transformed-german-shepherds.html?m=1

joshmcintosh
joshmcintosh

Last night we witnessed the final nail in the coffin driven in with the all too predictable five yes votes. The Garden Grove City Council completed their mission, to deliver the funds, to the tune of 47 million dollars, for the financing of the development for the Great Wolf Water Park Resort. This should have come to no surprise to anyone that has been paying attention in Garden Grove. For years the Council and City Manager, Matt Fertal, have inched closer and closer towards the creation of their upscale, mega-hotel with an indoor water park. Nothing was going to get in their way, not even Governor Jerry Brown and the dissolution of the Redevelopment. No, this was much too important of a a project. City officials claimed that the Water Park Hotel was an obligated project and battled with the Secretary of State for months over the city's right to follow through with a multimillion dollar investment for the construction of the development. Last night, the Successor Agency for Redevelopment finished their job. 

What should be noted is that not one Garden Grove resident has ever asked for this project to take precedence over nearly all other factors in the city. For years the few concerned residents, including myself, who attend and participate in our city politics, have spoken out against the project and specifically against the terms of financing the project. 

The projected admittance cost to use the water park, once it is completed, will be around 300.00 per day. That's right, 300.00 There are not many residents of Garden Grove, let alone most of Orange County, who will be willing to spend that kind of money to play on some water slides. When compared to 63.00 for a regular, 90.00 gold or 180.00 platinum annual pass to Knott's Berry Farm's Soak City, there are not too many of us that will be standing in line in Garden Grove to get soaked. A nightly room rental at the Great Wolf Resort runs at approximately 300.00 per night, including usage of the water park. Access to the water park is denied to anyone without a room rental. This essentially shuts out every kid in Garden Grove that would like to enjoy a facility right in his or her own backyard. There are no annual passes or local discounts in the works either. How hard would it be to offer a local discount rate for our residents? I find this as one of the harshest stings to the whole deal as we residents will be fronting the money for the construction of this resort for the next twenty or more years, depending on how successful the venture is. 

Mayor Broadwater, when confronted with the idea that the hotel may never be able to afford to repay the city of Garden Grove, said "Then we own a hotel." Pardon me but since when did we become the Marriott? What in hell do our city officials know about managing a hotel? We are spending 70% of our city budget on our emergency services (we just gave the police department a pay raise of over a million dollars) and have been in a hiring freeze for over a year, unless you're related to a city official. Our city budget already shows us nearly 6 million in debt. The last thing that we need to be doing is financing the construction for a mega resort when our own residents can''t even enjoy it. 

I've spoken out against  this project at planning commission and council meetings for years, with my words falling on deaf ears. The council gets what the council wants. I was compelled to speak up one last time, just for the record last night but we lost that battle a long time ago. 


Dave_Lieberman
Dave_Lieberman

Hm. Maybe they should re-(re-)develop the former Lord of the Dance building a little closer in. Not like anyone's using it at the moment.

n2bigmuscle
n2bigmuscle topcommenter

I went to the one in Washington.  I was the 3rd oldest person there with my 20yr old son.  We felt so out of place.  The average adult age was early 30's, the oldest girl there was 14 and the oldest boy was 11.  It's has a magic theme very similar to Harry Potter but lodge style, not goth.  It was very moist inside.  It's cool when it gets dark, they have lights in the tunnel water rides. 

billcousert
billcousert

@spectroman71  A Walgreens in Huntington Beach took over a year to complete. Contractors these days are lazy.

kbfblog
kbfblog

@NotReally 

Wow.  Such anger and at my clear memory of how things were, from my perspective.  I admit, I did not look at the Disneyland Resort/Anaheim Resort expansion projects (I know there were two) from such a "Disney is evil" perspective, and I have no anger about the project to this day.  You might have been a member of Anaheim HOME, the resort opposition group made up of those who (mostly) lived in the condos west of what is now Downtown Disney parking, or the homes just north of Ball Rd.  Obviously those residents felt more of an impact of the areas changes than most due to your day-to-day interactions with the traffic, noise, etc from any populated area like the Resort.  Speaking for myself only, I've come to enjoy the resorts activities, and I'm thankful for the improvments to surrounding streets, the freeways, etc.  There are more improvements needed, such as more resort parking, but that is to come from what i understand.  If only the parts of Anaheim just outside of the the resort could be brought up to a higher quality as well.  But that's another discussion for anothert time.

m.t.tomb999
m.t.tomb999

@18usc241 

Your a racist, so you instantly think dark skinned people don't have money? So the Disneyland hotel and the others do it too? What does Hitler have to do with it?  the wolf IS NOT strewn in nazi lore. And FYI many hotels DO NOT rent locals, Most don't rent if you live with in 35 to 50ml away.

m.t.tomb999
m.t.tomb999

@joshmcintosh  

"Access to the water park is denied to anyone without a room rental. This essentially shuts out every kid in Garden Grove"

WELL DUH! it's called a amenity in the hotel biz. You don't get to use the pool at a hotel with out staying, this is no different.

n2bigmuscle
n2bigmuscle topcommenter

You are 3rd paragraph is so misleading.  You pay for the hotel room which gives you the access to the waterpark.  Disney/CA Adventure charge more for thier rooms and it does give you access to the park.  YES, there are a lot of OC residents who can afford this.  I would assume anyone who lives within 5 miles from the beach, Irvine, etc.  You claim, "what about the children..", when they become teens and want a summer job,  they can become lifeguards.  WE do agree that the City of Garden Grove should not have provided the funding for this project.. 

gabrielsanroman
gabrielsanroman topcommenter

@joshmcintosh Looks like Garden Grove has its own Resort cabal to the detriment of its own residents, just like Anaheim. Gracias for your insight, outspokenness, and cogent comments!

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

And Stan Knee, the former police Chief of Garden Grove who retired in 1997 is a criminal racist who used his police department and the resources of the residents of same city to terrorize this Latino American man.

joshmcintosh
joshmcintosh

@m.t.tomb999 @joshmcintosh The issue here is that we are financing that water park resort from our tax dollars. Other improvements to the city are being pushed back so that the developer and city management can enjoy the sweet deal they arranged, all the way to the bank. If the developer was paying for this project himself, it would not even be an issue. The city would have been wise to include a Community Benefit Agreement in the contract so that we taxpayers who are paying for this will take away something for our investment. While we are financing this project for the next twenty years or more, we should be allowed usage of the water park, through a controlled invitation, in our water bills. Each family in the city would be given a range of days that they can visit the water park at least once for the remainder of the debt repayment. If their children are wild and unruly, they get kicked out. The kids in this area will otherwise grow up resenting the hotel guests, and everything this lavish hotel stands for if they never feel welcome to something like this in their own back yard. The developer was handed a sweet deal. Residents on the property were forced from their homes. Our traffic has been screwed up by construction. We have a huge, empty, blighted field now. Once construction begins we will have all of the dust, noise and other nuisances that go with that. The taxpayers were never given a say in whether we wanted to finance and build this project. We should be getting something out of this. 

gabrielsanroman
gabrielsanroman topcommenter

@n2bigmuscle What locals are going to want to rent an expensive ass room in OC just to slide on water ride tubes all day?

Here's an idea: how about bountifully free passes to the residents who were booted for this Great Wolf Lodge to get built? That is, if they'd even want to go...

gabrielsanroman
gabrielsanroman topcommenter

@n2bigmuscle Point being you were in San Antonio and not your own city! Motel 6? Yep, sounds about right for a Weekling, ha!

n2bigmuscle
n2bigmuscle topcommenter

Expensive???  I paid $350 a night this summer in San Antonio AND, I did not get a waterpark.  I guess you must stay at Motel 6? 

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