On Wednesday, Nov. 7, he had to convince the Tracy City Council to accept the project.
Taking over the plans to build the park 13 months ago, Rogers bought out the original developer, Jeff Macey, who had proposed that the park be named Tracy’s California Blast.
Rogers has put that development entity behind him in favor of the much bigger Spirit of California, which would also include a hotel and casino, marina, golf course, amusement park and other entertainment venues. It could cover the better part of 1,500 acres just north of town, including 628 acres that the city now owns.
“The only way the project is going to happen is if the city is behind us and the citizens are behind us, and the Spirit of California is working with both of them,” Rogers said. “The talent is there, the money is there.”
But Andrew Malik, director of city development and engineering services director, told council members that a revised agreement from April 2011 had been in default since February of this year.
An amendment to that contract gave Rogers until Sept. 20 to provide initial development applications and enough information on the project’s investors to show that he had the financial ability to get through the initial planning process.
While Rogers met that deadline, Malik said that he did not turn in detailed information that the city wanted, such as investors’ tax returns.
Malik said the city’s consultant, National Development Council, reviewed about $2.4 million worth of investment from nine investors. About $1.5 million worth of investment was verified as readily available cash, Malik said.
“What our consultant came up with was there was credible expression of interest from investors,” Malik said. “There was no legally binding commitment, however, and there’s where we get into some of the default.”
Rogers said Wednesday that investors have committed about $100 million to support the project, but he needs a new contract with the city in order to formalize those pledges.
After an hour-long discussion the council unanimously agreed to allow the agreement with the old development entity, Tracy’s California Blast, to stay in effect, while Rogers and the city’s planning staff hammer out a new agreement naming Spirit of California as the development entity.
It’s a process that could take a couple weeks, by Rogers’ estimation, or a couple months, according to City Attorney Dan Sodergren.
Rogers filled the council chamber with dozens of supporters on Wednesday, and they urged the council to endorse the project as an economic development engine that would make Tracy a destination for worldwide travelers. He hopes to drum up more support during a presentation from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, at West Valley Mall.
First he has to overcome the city’s skepticism.
Councilman Michael Maciel said that his support of the project hinges on the financial information that the exclusive negotiating rights agreement required.
“To me the big question is, how are we going to pay for this? That has yet to be answered,” Maciel said.
“We need a much clearer indication from the applicant how this is going to be viable,” he added. “My duty is to approach this with a healthy skepticism, but an open mind. If you show this can happen I think you’ll see support for it.”
Malik and Sodergren recommended that the council terminate the existing agreement, and Rogers would be able to negotiate for a new agreement. The council was prepared to endorse that option, provided Rogers reimburse the city for the staff time needed to draw up the new contract.
Rogers said that would leave his project in limbo, with a gap between the old agreement with Tracy’s California Blast and new one with Spirit of California. That, he told the council, could discourage his investors from making solid commitments. Rogers urged the council to let the existing contract stay in place because he needs the city’s support to convince investors that the project is set to become reality..
“I can’t have investors jump into a corporation that I’m abandoning for a new one,” he said.
He added later that details like tax returns from investors shouldn’t be required as they wouldn’t show how much money is available.
“I’ll give them exactly what they need without massive amounts of paperwork that validate nothing,” Rogers said. “What I plan to do is simply show them the cash.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.