Vallejo City Council to Consider North Mare Island Developers

Vallejo City Council, North Mare Island, San Francisco Bay Area, Exclusive Negotiating Rights Agreement, Nimitz Group, Joel Gott Wine, Safe Harbor Wine Partners, Nimitz Group,

VALLEJO, CA – On May 15, the Vallejo City Council will consider selecting a proposal from among eight submissions for the development of 157 acres on the North Mare Island waterfront, continuing the trend of business growth and investment that is making Vallejo a San Francisco Bay Area destination.

“The progress in Vallejo, especially around Mare Island, makes me proud” said Mayor Bob Sampayan. “I am enthusiastic about the response to our RFQ and motivated to make a decision that will continue to move this community forward. The level of commitment to invest in Vallejo is both incredible and humbling.”

The City of Vallejo issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) soliciting interest for the development of the city-owned North Mare Island waterfront site. The RFQ was open to all interested parties and emphasized commercial and advanced manufacturing uses that would maximize skilled and professional employment without requiring revised land entitlements. Eight submissions were received by the deadline of March 30, 2018.

A team of City staff and economic advisors conducted a careful assessment and evaluation of all proposals, focusing on the developer teams’ experience and financial resources, as well as the proposed project concept, how it aligned with the City’s objectives and existing land uses, and the anticipated economic impact on the community.

Based on the evaluations, City staff will be recommending to the City Council, during a special meeting on May 15, proceed with engaging the Nimitz Group to enter into an Exclusive Negotiating Rights Agreement (ENRA). The staff report concludes that the Nimitz Group submittal proposes several key advantages, including local knowledge and comparable experience.

Members of development team have established a local presence, become familiar with the labor market and know intimately the potential that embodies Vallejo. The team is made up of Dave Phinney, a principal with Savage and Cooke distillery located on South Mare Island, who has demonstrated a major commitment with millions of dollars in tenant improvements, and Gaylon Lawrence Jr., proclaimed in a 2016 Arkansas Times article “The Wizard of Wilson” as being the nation’s largest private farmer with more than 200,000 acres under his ownership. Mr. Lawrence also owns seven community banks in the Mid-South region and most recently gained local attention by purchasing a Napa winery for $180 million.

“I am extremely pleased with the number of quality proposals and genuine interest in developing North Mare Island,” said City Manager Greg Nyhoff. “Economic Development is one of the highest City priorities, including job creation, revenue generation and support for police, fire and roads. I am excited to recommend the selection of the Nimitz Group. The timing of this proposal combined with growth in other parts of the city has created real momentum for Vallejo.”

Mr. Phinney and Mr. Lawrence formed the Nimitz Group with a vision for North Mare Island that “seeks to promote and improve the community of Vallejo through the development and improvement of infrastructure while emphasizing the protection and preservation of the history and natural beauty of the Island.” The proposal offers an “insightful master development plan incorporating the use of green energy and paying prevailing wage throughout the development stage.”

Along with the submittal were Letters of Interest from other local businesses and existing Mare Island industry types compatible with the Mare Island Specific Plan and its CEQA analysis that could anchor up to 75% of the 1.2 million square foot development. Notably, it includes SHM Partners Film Mare Island film production, and winemakers Joel Gott Wines and Safe Harbor Wine Partners. The type of development, coupled with the anchor interest, make the project feasible and realistic in the near term.

Concepts addressed infrastructure needs and potential assessment district financing mechanisms to generate capital and maintenance funding. A Phase I initial and permanent job creation is estimated at 1,500 – 1,600 jobs, with a realistic four-year time line for permitting, infrastructure improvements, and construction of initial anchor tenant facilities. Both immediate and future potential City revenue streams were identified, including permit fees, property taxes, sales taxes, utility user taxes, and lease income.

The review team determined the Nimitz Group submittal to be most consistent with the City’s goals. Therefore, City staff recommends proceeding with an ENRA which would include the following elements:

  • Time period for negotiations of at least 120 days
  • Good faith negotiating and consultant expense deposits by the developer
  • Conceptual plans for building layout and design
  • Infrastructure requirements, construction timing, and financing plan
  • Due diligence studies, including geologic investigations
  • Economic impact study
  • Preliminary financing plan for anchor building construction

The full staff report and executive summaries from all eight proposers is available here. The Request for Qualifications (RFQ), released in December 2017, is available here.

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