Proposed racetrack north of Tracy plans expansion
by Bob Brownne
Jul 27, 2012 | 9837 views | 19 19 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A proposal to build a motorsports park north of Tracy has expanded into a plan for a vast entertainment venue with a variety of attractions.

Now, after three years of tentative planning and a change in leadership, Tracy’s California Blast LLC, the developer of the proposed Spirit of California entertainment park, has two more months to show Tracy city officials that the developer has the financial backing to buy 628 acres of city-owned land and meet city, county and state development requirements to proceed with the project.

Ultimately, it could make a 400-acre section between Corral Hollow Road and Tracy Boulevard and 125 acres along Sugar Cut leading up to Old River the new home of Spirit of California. The developer could also purchase 103 acres between the northern city limits and the new Holly Sugar youth sports complex.

The Spirit of California project could include 30 new businesses, including a golf course, a marina, an amusement park, a hotel and convention center, a vintners’ center and a casino, plus related support and promotion companies, according to Tracy’s California Blast CEO James Rogers.



The new plan

Rogers, of Los Gatos, describes a complex that would appeal to all ages, provide hundreds of jobs and potentially generate $250 million a year for the local economy.

Rogers said Wednesday, July 25, that during his meetings with local business leaders, potential investors and neighbors, he had found nothing but support.

“We’re seeing hundreds of petitions from citizens saying they want the project,” Rogers said.

The petitions he referenced came in the form of a letter that has been circulating around Tracy.

The letter briefly describes the project and its potential economic benefits and urges the Tracy City Council to back the proposal to give investors confidence that Tracy’s California Blast has city support.

An exclusive negotiating-rights agreement between the city and Tracy’s California Blast — which the Tracy City Council approved in April 2011 and extended March 20 for six months — gives Rogers until Sept. 20 to provide the names and financial information of investors who will pay for the environmental and planning studies needed to get the project started.

Rogers said that 15 investment groups are already on board, with more waiting to see how the project progresses. Those investors, he said, will provide the financial support to meet the Sept. 20 deadline.

“I’ve got different investors interested in different venues,” he said. “The one thing everyone does appreciate is the economic synergy that comes from putting 30 companies in one place.”

The city also wants to see a series of applications that would begin the planning process, including an application for a state-mandated environmental review. That would give Tracy’s California Blast until April 2014 to buy the land from the city.



The original plan

The project Rogers describes is much different from the project the city first considered in early 2009.

Jeff Macey, the former manager of the Altamont Motorsports Park, originally proposed a race track north of town in early 2009. He approached the city after it became clear that Altamont would be unable to renew the Alameda County permits that had allowed the track to operate in the hills just south of Interstate 580 since the early 1960s.

Altamont closed at the end of the 2008 season after neighbors complained about the noise and demanded that the county follow the letter of its zoning laws, which would not allow a race track in an agricultural area. Environmental reviews showed that facility improvements that would allow a zoning change would be too expensive.

Macey established an exclusive negotiating-rights agreement with the city of Tracy in March 2009 for 300 acres near Holly Sugar north of town, but the deadlines for that agreement expired when he failed to submit a development plan to the city.

He brought Rogers on as a partner in late 2010 and established a new agreement with the city in April 2011.

Macey said July 9 that he left the project in September 2011. He declined to discuss the details of his departure, but he did say that he was disappointed that he couldn’t continue to be involved and added that he still wanted to see the project continue.

Rogers confirmed that the development company bought out Macey’s share of the project for an undisclosed amount.

Macey said his difficulty during the initial proposal was finding investors to pay for the permitting and rezoning needed to build a race track on what is now farmland. He added that if the city of Tracy had supported a land-use change, he would have been able to attract investors.

“The problem with that project is that the city wasn’t going to take any responsibility for the EIR (environmental impact report),” he said. “If (investors) see a city spend money on a project, they feel pretty good.”



No sure sale

That type of land-use change can turn into a political issue with no guarantee that the city will support the project. While Rogers said he has initial support, Corral Hollow Road resident Robert Goulart said he and his neighbors are worried about the potential effects of a race track in the rural area.

“I passed out about 30 copies of the letter (petition), and most of the people agreed that they didn’t want a development like that,” Goulart said, adding that the exception was a nearby family that liked the idea of the amusement park.

Goulart said that just the noise from the race track would be enough to make him oppose the plan.

“I live about 1½ miles from the freeway, and I can hear the freeway noise,” he said. “If you put in a motorsports park, the noise would be horrendous.”



City awaits details

Andrew Malik, the city’s director of development and engineering, said that the environmental impact report, a requirement under the California Environmental Quality Act, would be the first official planning document to give his department a detailed look at the proposal.

“Before we move forward, there’s a project description that’s part of CEQA that has to take place. We haven’t gotten to that stage yet,” Malik said. “When we start an EIR, the project description has to be pretty solid. It will be pretty clear what they want to do if and when they get started.”

Councilman Steve Abercrombie said the City Council had not discussed the matter since the most recent request for an extension on the negotiating-rights agreement in March, though individual council members have talked with representatives of Tracy’s California Blast.

“Every time I’ve talked with them, they’ve given me the impression that they’ll meet the goals and deadlines of the city,” Abercrombie said. “We’ve been consistent from the beginning: You have to show us the financial backing for this.”

Mayor Brent Ives affirmed that the city had seen some financial information on the project but needed more details.

“That’s the crux of the matter,” Ives said. “That’s one of the conditions of entering into a development agreement.”

When the city approved the extension in March, Rogers also asked for a “welcome letter,” similar to the petition urging the city to support the project.

Ives said the city drafted a letter in response to that request. He noted that the city was not in a position to advocate for the project, but wanted to enable the developer to take the next step.

“It does say to an investor that they (Tracy’s California Blast) are in discussions with the city,” Ives said. “It’s kind of an official statement that we are listening. There’s nothing binding.”

Rogers said that the company has done enough of its own environmental studies that he’s confident Spirit of California will pass the state-mandated environmental review.

“We’re making sure we design it correctly prior to the city’s EIR consultants getting their hands on it,” he said, adding that this is one of the keys to giving investors confidence that the project will clear local government hurdles. “We’ve prepared massive amounts of documentation and financial models to show investors that we have done our homework.”

• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or brownne@tracypress.com.
Comments
(19)
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spiritofcalifornia
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August 24, 2012
For all of your questions: Please visit our website:

www.spiritofcalifornia.com

We will be making more announcements and releasing news articles as they become available.

Please note, some news agencies are incorrectly reporting facts.
indpntConsrvtv
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August 03, 2012
We should NOT ignore investors who want to support our town and create jobs, revenue and tax streams for the community. While I do understand that we have to be skeptical and at the very least cautious, we should at least hear them out. I'm all for traditions and culture; however, we have an opportunity to have the best of both worlds with the AGI land that Tracy has an is known for as well as the entertainment complex that appears beyond the horizon. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. While I do love locally grown vegetables and crops, I've yet to hear of a town or city that has been rescued because of the revenue generated by a farmer's market. Let's showcase the beauty & advantages of Tracy. Look at all the changes happening in Livermore, new outlets are opening in November creating hundreds of jobs that will benefit that community. Who knows, it may FINALLY put pressure on BART to stop at Tracy. Don't get me started on the joke of a mass transportation system that California has. Especially the valley...
tracyresdnt
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August 02, 2012
Privately funded and bringing a pretty good mix of entertainment venues to Tracy? Sounds great. I would love to not leave town and have something to go out and do in Tracy. If you build it, I will come.

Yes
ciscokid52
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August 02, 2012
If the idea is legit, I would like to see it move forward. I've only lived here for a little over 3 years and my parents only for a little over 6 years. But, my uncle has lived here for over 30 years and he's always mentioned how Tracy has grown during his time and we have to grow with the times or we'll get left behind.

I know every time I'm planning something for my family over the weekends, its always about where we're going and it hardly ever includes staying in town because there isn't much to keep us entertained.

It would be nice to get people who even don't live here actually come purposely for something. I'm all for adding new attractions for people to enjoy.
TracyFreak
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July 30, 2012
Not to argue to much but here is an excerpt from a news article...

...

1997-08-10 04:00:00 PDT Lathrop, San Joaquin County -- When Norman Jarrett started talking back in 1986 about his vision of "Gold Rush City" -- including a $300 million theme park celebrating 1850s San Francisco and the Mother Lode -- he received polite attention and smothered chuckles from Northern California developers, who were convinced the ambitious project would never be built.

No one is laughing now. To the surprise of the entire county, a $4 billion plan that promises to convert this hot, dusty town into an international resort is moving toward construction on nearly 7,000 acres of fields and orchards. ?

Jarrett, backed by the co-developer of Contra Costa County's 11,000- home Dougherty Valley subdivision, has managed to pull together all the approvals he needs to begin building. Preliminary construction could start as soon as next year, with the first of four theme parks open by 2001, he said.

The 30-year project calls for a whole lot of everything. If the Gold Rush City theme park isn't enough, there's Califia, an Epcot Center-style park based on California's high-tech future, a wildlife park
TracyFreak
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July 30, 2012
and a water- based theme park. The plan calls for 5,000 hotel rooms, about 9,000 homes and condominiums, three golf courses, shopping centers and business parks.

And if people are still looking for something to do, they can go to "a proposed auto speedway with seating capacity for 120,000 spectators and a state-of-the-art sports arena for tennis, basketball, boxing or ice hockey," plus a rodeo arena By 2010, Gold Rush City expects to attract at least 3.5 million visitors a year and pump between $5 million and $14 million into the annual budget of Lathrop, population 8,700 -- a pot of money that would more than double the town's general fund budget.

"Gold Rush City will put Lathrop on every tourist's itinerary," said former Mayor Apolina Sangalang.

...Not exactly some houses on a golf course..Sorry.
TracyFreak
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July 30, 2012
if we dont pay attention the same thing will happen here. Yes it was in a flood plain...right where they built those hundreds of houses and business. Sounds a lot like what is going on here. I am all for jobs and growth it just needs to be planned, so that we dont end up with a mess...again.
Atari
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July 30, 2012
TracyFreak,

Pay attention to what? People payed attention to the Sierra Club's controversial lawsuits and look what it got them. A conversation about no jobs and the false illusion that the same Lathrop homes they despised were the evil hatchling of a British company who's only crime was proposing fun. For that they were mobbed by the bobblehead mentality of militant protesters.

Many of them want you to be just like them. Unemployed.

So let us pay attention like what? Like meerkats? Like silhouettes? Sorry to say, but people have been collectively falling into that rat-trap, far too long.

Eventually folks moved into the surrounding Mossdale area and then proceeded to demean the builders. They wanted the jobs and the homes, they said. Too late.

Now pay attention here. Aside from the developer who conceived the concept of Gold Rush City, did the Sierra Club sue any other home builder in Lathrop?

If not (and since you bemoaned rooftops) please explain why.

TracyFreak
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July 29, 2012
Oh how soon we forget the same promised complex that was being built in Lathrop...Gold Rush City. That was just a scam to build houses, there was never any intention to build the amusement park, hotel, etc. Sound familiar? This will just become another end run to building houses, not jobs. Dont fall for the scam and start complaining now. Make them put their cards on the table and guarantee that the complex is built as planned and if they stray then a large financial penalty will be paid...make it in the BILLIONS just to keep them from trying the same garbage that others have done before.
Atari
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July 29, 2012
TracyFreak,

Gold Rush City was proposed with private homes with a golf course. There was never any mention of a race-track. If you want to see what they were planning take a drive out to Brentwood and look at the homes on the golf-course.

The reason Gold Rush City did not pan out was because of flooding concerns. One agreement with the developer demanded they spend over 8 million dollars to "put their finger in the dam".

In the end, nobody could agree on a number and good or bad, the idea of a peripheral canal sprung.

But one good thing did come from that. Every year Del Osso Farms expanded and has validated the need for this type of entertainment.

So far, the Sierra Club has not sued Del Osso Farms, to the best of my knowledge.
indpntConsrvtv
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July 27, 2012
I like the fact that the idea is being considered. Today and tomorrow's economy differ from what it used to be and all options should be laid out on the table. I would love to see downtown developed more. My wife and I recently took a trip to Livermore and their downtown shoppes, restaurants and bars provide a much needed destination to their residents, which contributes to the local economy and provides jobs. It seems like it could bring a lot of business to the area along with jobs.JOBS,JOBS,JOBS...With all due respect, who cares about the price of food, if you don't have a job to earn money and purchase food. Unless you plan on living off the teet of the state? We can only have so many distribution centers and beauty salons in Tracy. Look towards the future and think of what Tracy can become, not what you don't want it to be. Also, according to the City Council notes it did state that the land was zoned as industrial? I say, listen to the ideas, see if it's feasible and move forward. Of course, I'm only speaking as a homeowner and 2 year resident of Tracy.
carsnbikes
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July 27, 2012
I am soooo happy to hear that this proposal is still on the table. This is something that could create some real jobs for Tracy and make Tracy a destination, not just a bedroom or a stop-over on the way to the Sierra. Not only would the jobs be created to support the motorsports park, but you would also have a bunch of supporting business opportunities. This is also the kind of thing that we need to help some kids to get off the street and do something constructive with their lives. We don't need any more soccer or baseball fields, we need something that will create jobs and move the community forward. There is nothing like this around unless you go to Sonoma or Sacramento. The SAC raceway was built in 1964 and who knows how long it will be before that one goes the way of the buffalo, just like Fremont raceway. I would love to see this thing come to life. I would be one of the first to roll my car and bike down a new drag strip or racetrack in Tracy.

vegitrks
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July 27, 2012
The proposed project is on ag land, and this property needs to stay as ag land...people wonder why their groceries are skyrocketing? If you take out all of the property you should be growing your food on, to build something "fun", dont complain when you have to bring in your produce and meat from other areas and countries...do we really want Tracy to be an ag community? The answer is yes, do we want an amusement park? The answer is NO!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sneaky
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July 27, 2012
Who is we? Do you have a frog in your pocket?

Go and drive across this country, there is more than enough ag land around, plus plenty of undeveloped land that could be converted to more ag land. Bringing produce and meat from other areas is just fine. That is what trains, boats, trucks are for.

While I am generally anti-growth (just dont like crowds) this proposal is just too good to pass on As long as its paid for privatly and is out in the middle of nowhere, which is exactly where they are proposing putting it, then nobody should be bothered by it.
CarpenterNewton
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July 30, 2012
@vegitrks: Exactly. And obviously they haven't approached the landowners to discuss this. Cart before the horse?

@Sneaky:

"Go and drive across this country, there is more than enough ag land around, plus plenty of undeveloped land that could be converted to more ag land"

You clearly know nothing about farming. The land surrounding Tracy (including the land specified in this deal) is some of the most fertile land in California. You can't just go and farm any open land or "convert" it to ag land, as you say. It's open for a reason. It's not fertile. They should "convert" all of this undeveloped land you speak of to racetracks, amusement parks, etc. and leave this land to the farmers.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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July 31, 2012
The land will grow nothing but olive trees. There is an olive plant west of there. If this was good farming land you would have a grove of olive trees and Lammers Road would have been extended to the other side of the Safeway windmills, where the olive plant is located.

If the land had been flooded by the Delta they would have grown asparagus.

However, there was one farmer who used to lease some of the property from the city.

The rest of the citizens of Tracy were lied to by Proposition A, which said Tracy was prime agriculture and farmland.

This was the typical get rich scheme and they did not tell you what they really meant was cattle and dairy farming.
CarpenterNewton
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August 01, 2012
FYI - Lammers Road is SOUTH Tracy. Your "olive tree" argument doesn't work here.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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August 01, 2012
CarpenterNewton,

My comment was in no way erroneous or disengenuous to farmers. Lammers Rd go es all the way to the mall, which is near this proposed area.

But what is more interesting, is that you mentioned South Lammers. That is exactly what I meant. If olive farmers had grown groves of trees near the mall truckloads of olives would be heading down Lammers Road looking for the pathway to Musco olive processing plant on the other side of the freeway.

Check out the farmers market and see how many growers are from Tracy. None, unless you count the pies on Lammers.
Sneaky
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August 01, 2012
I will admit to not knowing much about farming. The few gardening minded folks I know say Tracy has crappy soil. Whatever the case, I dont much care where they put it, just so it goes somewhere nearby. Every city needs an autosports option of some sort. All over town we have endless soccer fields, baseball fields, etc.. Why are motorsports enthusiasts needs somehow less important than those of soccer and baseball fans?


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