Wednesday, April 29, 2015

County Action Speeds Solano Fairgrounds Plan to Next Phase

Dorain McLeod putts at the Joe Mortara Golf Course at the Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic file)

FAIRFIELD — The next nine months may be the most important ever for Solano360, as Solano County enters into exclusive negotiations with a firm on the development of the project at the Solano Fairgrounds.

The Board of Supervisors has directed staff to enter into an “exclusive right to negotiate” with Solano Community Development LLC in developing the long-debated Solano360 project.

The action does not lock the county into having the company do the development, but does commit county staff to negotiate only with Solano Community Development during the nine-month time frame.

The principals of Solano Community Development – a company that includes Kenwood Investments, JMA Ventures and partner Steven Kays – have been involved in major developments in Northern California such as Ghirardelli Square, the Sacramento Arena Project and Treasure Island Redevelopment.

Solano Community Development wants to be the county’s and city’s private sector partner to invest in the Solano360 project, with a fully integrated, sustainable development that includes the private- and public-purpose areas, the firm said in its presentation.

“We can put heart and soul into this project,” said Darius Anderson, chief executive officer of Kenwood Investments and co-manager of Solano Community Development. “We believe there is a tremendous interest in this project, if it’s done right.” 

Proposal features mixed uses
Anderson in a presentation to the board this month outlined various elements that could be included in development of the 149-acre fairgrounds site in Vallejo at the interchange of Interstate 80 and Highway 37.

“We will complement your vision and activities,” Anderson said. “We believe we have the technical background to enhance what you have already done.”

Solano Community Development envisions a variety of retail and commercial uses for the site that would include retail food, beverage, clothing and lifestyle options, sporting goods and outdoor activity functions and the like, the presentation said.

“We believe retail is key and crucial,” Anderson said.

Retail uses would include a shopping and entertainment center that would provide a destination for the approximately 1.5 million people who live within 20 miles of the site, according to the presentation. It could possibly include some retail that has not previously been featured in the region, Anderson said.

Restaurants would include a mix of large, family friendly operations and smaller, local options, the presentation specified. It’s considered a great location for innovative dining, Anderson said.

Given the site’s location adjacent to Lake Chabot, the Solano Community Development presentation said it would expect a water feature to be a prominent aspect of any potential development. The presentation also includes a water park as part of the development.

“The challenge is how do you add to the amount of time the guest is already spending there,” Anderson said. “We believe a water park resort would add a day.”

The portion of the development devoted to the fair, meanwhile, would be different from what has been seen there.

“The fair of the 20th century is not the fair of the 21st century,” Anderson said. “The fair of the future across the state will look different.”

The fair does not require the space it did, he said.

“But it would still have the charm and attraction that we all grew up with,” he said.

It would become a year-round venue for traditional fair uses, with innovative and cutting-edge technology, according to the presentation. It will address local needs, as well, Anderson said.

The Solano Community Development presentation also revealed plans for live entertainment as part of the project. Solano Community Development would partner with Another Planet Entertainment LLC, a Bay Area icon in the field of promoting and managing live entertainment events, the presentation indicated.

Another Planet Entertainment is excited about the location in relationship to the population, Anderson said. 

Homes or apartments as well?
Solano Community Development is also considering a residential component for the development. It will allow the development to be vibrant 24/7, Anderson said.

Supervisor Linda Seifert, who represents Vallejo, questioned including housing as part of the development.

A residential component would keep the property engaged at night, Anderson said. He admitted, however, that Solano Community Development may come back later with a change about including housing in the development.

“We want to look at it,” he said. “That’s what we would go to work on if we’re selected.”

Seifert questioned if the retail portion of the development would include a large department store.

There needs to be a blend of a variety of things, but not a big-box store, Anderson said.

“We would come back to you on a regular basis to collaborate,” he said. 

Who’s in charge?
Many details will need to be worked out in the negotiations, but one of the main factors will be whether the county can take the lead on the project.

“My position is that I want the county to be the master developer,” Supervisor Jim Spering said. “I want to make sure that you’re comfortable with that.”

“The reason why I was proposing that is because we’re dealing with the fair of the future,” Spering said. “We’re dealing with a space that’s going to be a public space. It really is what we’re hoping is going to be the iconic feature of this project.

“And we’re going to be dealing with a lot of regulatory agencies, dealing with the city of Vallejo,” he said. “And I think it’s very appropriate that since the county developed this vision or this plan, that we act in that role.”

That would need to be worked out in the details of the negotiations, Anderson said.

“Just like we did on Treasure Island, we were the master developer and I would argue that we enhanced it and we did all the things that you just described for the city,” Anderson said. “Once we do become your developer, in essence, everything you described is also our top priority.” 

Six Flags protections
Spering also stressed to Anderson that the county and the city of Vallejo don’t want anything to affect the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom amusement park, which is adjacent to the fairgrounds, in a negative way.

“The county and the city are very concerned about the parking for Six Flags,” he said. “Six Flags is a major employer in Vallejo and an operation that we want to keep healthy and we would like to see grow.”

“We see tremendous benefit to those two projects if they’re working hand-in-hand,” Spering said.
Solano Community Development would integrate and embrace Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and other Vallejo assets such as the area’s waterfront, the firm said in its proposal. 

A significant draw
Spering also expressed a need for a central element to the development.

“From my perspective, there has to be some iconic feature to this project that is really what draws people there,” he said.

Anderson said he and Spering were on the same page on the matter.

“I agree with you 100 percent,” he said. “If it’s either a business that’s iconic, if it’s art that’s iconic, if it’s an attraction that’s iconic, we believe to get people to get off the freeway . . . they’re already coming to go to (Six Flags) . . . but if we’re going to be successful we have to get them to stop there.”

Whatever is done there, there’s going to have to be one or more iconic features, he said. 

Big project, single presentation
Seifert complimented Anderson on the Solano Community Development presentation, but asked staff why there was only one presentation.

“That raises at least some concern for me about why you think that happened,” she said.
Circumstances concerning the development affected the responses, staff said.

“I think the limiting factor of the (request for qualifications) is the county not selling the property,” said Bernadette Curry, Solano deputy county counsel. “We are only ground leasing the property. That is a major issue why so many folks decided not to put in a proposal.”

A couple of developers who the county anticipated would submit a proposal had expressed concern about the lease issue, staff said. The other concern was overdevelopment of the entire property. They weren’t sure they wanted to be a developer for an entire property, as opposed to the private-purpose areas only, staff said.

“We did discuss in a previous board meeting that we would take no more than three finalists to this meeting,” Curry said. “But at the end of the day we did just get one proposal that met the criteria that we had in the RFQ and the proposal is very solid. They have a very strong financial background.”
Solano Community Development and Extreme Sports Production were the only two firms that submitted a proposal in response to the request for qualifications from the county. The Solano360 Implementation Committee – comprised of Board Chairwoman Erin Hannigan, Spering and Vallejo City Council members Pippin Dew-Costa and Jess Malgapo – recommended Solano Community Development as a finalist to make a presentation to the board.

The county had distributed the request for qualifications to hundreds of development-related firms and individuals as well as posted the request on the county website, according to Curry. County staff and consultants conducted site visits Jan. 20 and Feb. 4 – prior to project submittals – at the fairgrounds property. 

What’s next
Agreements that will need to be worked out with Solano Community Development during negotiations concern ground leases, possible financing agreements, integration and operation of the project, according to county staff.

Various other details that staff said need to be worked out with the board include allowed uses, site development parameters, incorporation of any anchor users identified through this solicitation, responsibilities for infrastructure investment, schedule of performance and phasing, process for further environmental review, if any, and business terms and conditions for lease.

Anderson, meanwhile, outlined three elements that Solano Community Development will begin working on. Those elements include a market study, working with supervisors individually to get additional feedback and talking to vendors to get people on board, he said.

“Those three tracks would be running at the same time,” Anderson said.

Supervisor Skip Thomson after the presentation questioned the development’s benefit to taxpayers.

Those at Solano Community Development hope that at the end of the day, this would provide public use and a tax benefit, Anderson said.

Thomson indicated, meanwhile, that he is anxious to know how the development will be paid for.

“The concern I have is when the project actually unfolds, how are we going to pay for it?” he said. “We don’t need to talk about it today, because it’s going to be coming back. But that’s what you’re going to have to prove to me, that this makes sense from the taxpayers’ perspective.”

Hannigan, who also represents Vallejo, joined other board members in complimenting Solano Community Development for its presentation.

“I think the projects you have in your portfolio are iconic,” she said. “They’re ones that support history of a site and look toward the future as far as a use. And I think that’s something you’ve heard is really important to us. And it’s important to the fair board members. That’s a bonus for Solano County and the fair.”

“We’re very anxious to get going,” she said. “This is kind of the dating phase that we’re going into.”
While complimenting the other supervisors for their questions, Spering urged them to move ahead with the project.

“I don’t want to wait another year,” he said. “I don’t think we can afford to do that.”

Thomson echoed those thoughts.

“We need to get this thing going,” he said.

A bit of history
  • Solano County decided in 2000 to renovate the fairgrounds and its aging buildings that date back to 1950. Various ideas have been discussed during the past decade on how to transform the facility into a year-round attraction with businesses, restaurants and entertainment ventures, as well as space for the annual fair.
  • Acting as a lead agency, the board certified the final environmental impact report for the Solano360 specific plan in February 2013 and approved the specific plan as the master plan for the long-term development. Supervisors approved a development agreement with the city of Vallejo for the project in June 2013.
  • The request for qualifications was released this past December, with a submittal date of March 13.

Article Source: Daily Republic 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Solano County Fairgrounds Is Your Event Place!

Whether you have a large event or a small event, and whether it may be a private event or a public event, whether you prefer indoors or outdoors, the Solano County Fairgrounds is the perfect place for almost any event.

Here's just a few good reasons to choose the Solano County Fairgrounds:

  • There are 5 major buildings containing 61,400 square feet of space for indoor events.
  • The complex sits on 157 acres at the intersection of Interstate 80 and State Highway 37, so it is easily accessible and conveniently located for all of the bay area and beyond.
  • Just in case you might need this, we have a 5,000 seat grandstand, plus 1,000 seat bleacher seating for overflow.
  • There are 5 acres of paved area inside the grounds, so it is ideal for vehicle shows, motor sports, and other large outdoor attractions.
  • There is parking for 5,600 cars.
  • Adjacent to the fairgrounds is a full-service Courtyard by Marriott hotel, and just across the street from the fairgrounds is the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Theme Park. Tie that with your event and you'll get nothing but rave reviews!

Well, that's just a few of the highlights and all good reasons to have your next event here. To see more information, visit our website at

Thursday, April 23, 2015

World of Dance Bay Area 2015 | Saturday, April 25th, 2015 | Solano County Fairgrounds | #WODBAY2015

Saturday April 25, 2015
World of Dance Bay Area 2015
2:00 pm - 10:00 pm
- Exposition Hall

Admission: $40.00 Per Person
Parking: $10.00 Per Vehicle

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cal Racing Players' Tournament This Sunday

Sunday April 26, 2015

Cal Racing Players' Tournament
Register Before 2:00 pm -
The Solano Race Place

For additional information, please call: (707) 551-2030


Admission: $5.00 before 4:00 pm, $3.00 after 4:00 pm

Friday, April 17, 2015

Don't Miss Dollar Days at The Solano Race Place Every Sunday Until June 14th!

Enjoy the best horse racing from around the world in the comfort of our Satellite Horse Racing Facility at the Solano County Fairgrounds 

Track Odds
Instant Payouts 

Meet fellow racing enthusiasts in a friendly setting at the crossroads of I-80 and Hwy 37 in Vallejo. Easy access from all directions! 

You'll find ample seating at carrels, private tables, and group tables with lots of action shown on projection screens and numerous monitors throughout the facility. Full bar and restaurant service is available all hours of operation. 

Open 10 am Wednesday through Sunday 
Days & times may vary - refer to racing schedule below for facility hours

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Upcoming Event: "Brunch & Bet" Horse Racing Seminar

Sunday April 26, 2015
'Brunch & Bet' Horse Racing Seminar
:30 am - The Solano Race Place

For additional information and to RSVP, please call: (707) 551-2030


Admission: $25.00 - Includes Brunch, Racing Program, Betting Voucher and Seminar. Parking is Free.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Upcoming Events - World of Dance Bay Area 2015

Saturday April 25, 2015
World of Dance Bay Area 2015
2:00 pm - 10:00 pm
- Exposition Hall

Admission: $40.00 Per Person
Parking: $10.00 Per Vehicle

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Solano County Fair Guidebooks Available


VALLEJO — The 2015 Solano County Fair competition guidebook is available.

This year’s fair is July 29 through Aug. 2. The theme is Meet Me at the Fair!, which has been incorporated into several categories including decorated cakes, gift items, table settings, vignettes, floriculture arrangements, wheel barrow planting and the amateur gardens exhibit.

A new category, based on the theme, was developed with two divisions: 2D Art, for photos, graphic art, creative writing and other creations; and 3D Art, for ceramics, dioramas, textiles and other pieces. Art creations in this category should be based on a favorite fair site, fond memory, favorite fair food, unforgettable moment or selfie taken at the Solano County Fair.

The 2015 competition guidebook provides the information for competing in the different categories. Opportunities exist for adults, youth, professionals and amateurs based on entry category.

Entry forms in all categories must be received by July 1. Exhibitors who submit entry forms by June 1 will receive two free tickets to attend the fair.

The complete 2015 competition guidebook can be found on the fair’s web site, Printed copies of the guidebook are available at county libraries, chamber of commerce offices and senior centers throughout the county as well as at the fair’s office, 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo.

Article Source: Daily Republic 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Chief Solano Kennel Club Dog Show April 18th - Aprils 19th

Saturday April 18 - Sunday April 19, 2015
Chief Solano Kennel Club Dog Show
8:00 am to 6:00 pm - North Grounds


Parking: $10.00 Per Vehicle

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Discount On Electric Sign Advertising for Solano County Chamber of Commerce Members

Double Sided 16' x 27'
LED Full Color Advertising Display
Located in Vallejo on I-80 between Redwood Parkway
& Hwy. 37
Advertise 24 hours per day - 7 days per week