By Katrina Van Duzee/Garden Grove Journal
Garden Grove is one step closer to issuing $47 million in bonds, pushing forward construction of the pending water park resort complex on Harbor Boulevard.
The councilmembers voted 5-0 at Tuesday’s meeting to initiate the process of gathering information and putting together an authorized resolution to be passed at a future meeting. Councilmember Bruce Broadwater had Deputy City Treasurer Kingsley Okereke clarify for the public this resolution did not mean the city was agreeing to allocate these bonds to the developer just yet.
Last April the council voted to consider paying the developer, Colorado-based McWhinney, $42 million up front as soon as the hotel opened and provided a certificate of occupancy. This was an amendment from the original agreement stating the city’s redevelopment agency would pay the amount over 15 years.
The remaining $5 million will be provided with the commencement of construction of the parking structure.
The 600-room resort complex will occupy a 10.3-acre lot and will cost $300 million to construct. Groundbreaking on the project is set for 2012.
Although the developer requested the money up front to help finance the project in economic tough times, senior project manager Greg Blodgett, said this is advantageous to the city as well. Now instead of splitting the estimated $8.5 million in tax revenue 50-50, under the new agreement the city will keep 100 percent of the bed, sales and property tax.
Local residents spoke out about their skepticism this project would actually benefit the community. Traffic congestion, restricting access to only hotel guests and issuing a hefty sum of money for a single interest were concerns voiced by long-time resident, Peggy Bergin.
“By making the water park for guests exclusively it seems they (McWhinney) are restricting their own business success,” resident Charles Mitchell said.
Councilmember Steve Jones and Mayor Bill Dalton countered the exclusivity concern by stating reserving the park for hotel guest’s was a way for the resort to avoid overcrowding and made perfect sense.
“We’re all residents of Garden Grove and wouldn’t think of swimming in a pool at the Hyatt. If I’m not staying there, I would have no right to,” Dalton said.
It is estimated it will take the city 20 years to pay off the bonds, according to City Manager Matthew Fertal.