Economic Development in Vallejo exploded in 2018, should continue in new year

January 03 2019

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen | | Vallejo Times Herald

PUBLISHED: December 28, 2018 at 5:27 pm | UPDATED: January 2, 2019 at 1:08 pm


2018 was a banner year for Economic Development in Vallejo, and indications are this will continue into the new year.

“There is strong momentum with the Vallejo economic opportunities,” City Manager Greg Nyhoff said. “For me, in my first year, I have hired some strong leaders to fill several vacant positions including Human Resources Director, Planning and Development Services Director, Assistant City Manager and our new Fire Chief will join us in mid-January. They join a strong group of leaders who were with the City when I started. All of my Director positions are now filled.”

Significant progress has been made on City Council goals for this year, but more can be done, he added.

“Economic Development was the No. 1 priority of City Council and much progress has been accomplished. Over the next six months there will be significant progress regarding Mare Island and other projects. Economic Development will continue to be a high priority in 2019 with additional positive outcomes.

Vallejo Chamber of Commerce heavyweight and longtime business owner Carol Larson seems to see a similar future for the city.

“Vallejo has some amazing momentum right now, which I have no doubt will continue through 2019,” she said. “The spirit of Vallejo is stronger than ever; new businesses and residents are gravitating here from all over, and of all the growing economies in the Bay Area, I feel Vallejo is the most exciting one to watch right now. We should all be proud to be a part of it.”

“In early 2018, the Vallejo City Council made promoting robust economic development a top priority, and the ensuing months of 2018 reflected the focus, dedication and resources of the city in making that growth happen,” said Will Morat of the City Manager’s office. “The city is entering 2019 with a ‘closer’ mentality to ensure that the projects already in the pipeline are realized.”

Describing the city’s economic development future exciting, Morat said he predicts “continued investment and growth as Vallejo becomes a marquee destination for the 21st Century economy.”

Economic Development 2018-2019 at a glance

City Investments:

·        Developed a proposal for Amazon HQ2 in late 2017 that provided the framework, strategy and goals for the North Mare Island Request for Qualifications issued in December 2017.

·        March 2018 – Received nine development proposals from firms wanting to invest in North Mare Island, ranging from resorts to retail to film production.

·        July 2018 – Entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with The Nimitz Group for the City-owned 157-acres on North Mare Island for a preliminary development proposal that includes 600,000 square feet of film production/sound stages, 300,000 square feet of wine and beverage production, and additional office, R&D and retail space.

·        Listed as the #1 Mega-project in the SF Bay Area by the SF Business Times

·        Nimitz Group has entered into a diligence phase to acquire Lennar Mare Island properties on Mare Island and assume the role of master developer of the island

·        Preliminary and conceptual plans expected in 2019

·        Summer 2018 – City staff successfully petitioned the state and federal government to designate a sixth Opportunity Zone site in Vallejo (zone includes Mare Island & South Vallejo Waterfront, which was added to the five additional sites in Vallejo on the mainland side)

·        Opens up tremendous investment tools and financing options for new development, making Vallejo one of the prime destinations for new business development in the state.

·        City business fiber network, through a public-private partnership with Inyo Networks, lights up its first customers at rates 50-80 percent lower than competitor’s pricing. This network is targeted toward businesses, educational institutions, and medical facilities that require large amounts of dedicated bandwidth. To date there are nearly 30 customers on net.

·        Focused on an omni-channel, robust marketing strategy that has successfully raised Vallejo’s profile regionally and nationally to attract and retain key businesses and investment.

·        Partnership with SF Made and the Bay Area Urban Manufacturing group, including hosting a tour of Mare Island businesses by the SF Made Executive Board in December 2018.

·        Working with Solano Transportation Authority and the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) to secure RM3 funding for transit improvements

·        WETA, with more than 1.3 million riders out of Vallejo, is doubling its Vallejo capacity at peak hours and added its brand new expanded capacity boat on the Vallejo-SF route.

·        Added $8 million in City funding in a partnership with Vallejo Flood & Wastewater to place new water, sewer and fiber optic lines under the Mare Island Strait that will increase capacity for future growth and development on the island.

·        Partnered with the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce Business Permitting Ad Hoc Committee to improve the City permitting process and stakeholder experience at City Hall

Business Growth

·        Film Production – Film Mare Island wrapped up shooting for the Transformers prequel “Bumblebee,” as well as the 3rd season of “13 Reasons Why”

·        Season 4 of 13 Reasons Why is confirmed and filming begins in February 2019

·        Advanced Manufacturing

·        Factory_OS began production of modular apartment units, built on Mare Island with a 120 strong union labor force 20 percent cheaper and 40 percent faster than conventional construction – first contracts included for workforce housing with Google in San Jose and homeless housing for the City of Oakland

·        Kreysler & Associates located to Mare Island after securing 3-year project with Lucas Arts to manufacture the exterior of the new Narrative Art Museum that will be located in Los Angeles, creating an initial 40 advance manufacturing jobs in Vallejo with plans for rapid growth over the coming years.

·        The distillery Savage & Cooke completed construction at Building 46 on Mare Island and joins Mare Island Brewery, Vino Godfather, and Napa Smith Brewery as the core of Vallejo’s beverage manufacturing industry

·        Alstom secured a $50+ million partnership extension with San Francisco for continued technical, engineering and project support of the SFMTA rail fleet.


New Retail Construction

·        Panera Bread constructed and opened a new store at the Northgate Shopping Center in November 2018

·        In-N-Out Burger constructed a new restaurant at Redwood Plaza, slated to open January 2019

·        The City facilitated an agreement with a developer and Costco, the City’s top sales revenue generator, to construct a new, much bigger facility adjacent to Redwood Plaza

·        Downtown

·        La Clinica is moving into a new facility on Georgia Street that will double its size, add 30-50 employees, and increase its range of services

·        Cal Maritime University secured a downtown anchor space on Georgia Street for an event center, student center, and retail space

·        Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

·        Opening a new Batman ride in 2019

·        Maintains its position as the highest -grossing park in the Six Flags family across the nation

·        Cannabis

·        Started recreational sales, and in Fiscal Year 2017-18 achieved nearly $30 million in gross revenues

·        Legal land use process initiated to allow approved use permit

·        Blue Rock Springs Golf Course

·        Touchstone, LLC., assumed day-to-day operations at the City-owned golf course(s) in January 2018 and finished the year in the black – the first time since 2010 that the course has netted a profit.

·        Greg Norman Company has proposed a new 18-hole golf course with a state-of-the-art community center/clubhouse as part of the Blue Rock Springs Project that will be unveiled in 2019


Housing Growth

·        Lennar unveiled its Smart House prototypes and sold out its newest subdivision of 50+ homes on Mare Island

·        Blue Mountain Construction began work on a new Senior Living Center, “The Lodge” in Glen Cove that will add 140 units of assisted-care living.

·        KB Homes continues construction and sales on its “Skyline” development project that will bring 70+ units to Southeast Vallejo.

·        Callahan Development unveiled its tentative map for 175 new homes on the Northern Waterfront

·        Lewis Group unveiled a tentative map for ~80 new homes at the Fairview Project adjacent to the planned Costco site

·        Greg Norman Company has partnered with the Lewis Group to construct new luxury single-family homes at Blue Rock as part of the Blue Rock Springs Project – tentative map expected in 2019


Education Growth

·        Cal Maritime

·        Approved its new Master Plan that will double enrollment, expand degree programs, and establish new facilities for Cal Maritime over the next 10 years.

·        The Master Plan calls for 2,200 Full-time students, an additional 225,000 square feet of facilities, and identifying space and growth needs beyond the current campus footprint

·        Expanded its footprint by acquiring property to add 141 student housing units on Sonoma Boulevard and establishing a 15,000 sq./ft. facility on Georgia Street adjacent to the SolTrans Center and 2 blocks from the Ferry Terminal.

·        Solano Community College

·        SCC’s Automotive Technician program leads the industry with a dynamic curriculum in its new, state-of-the-art learning facility in Vallejo, making it a leader in training with hybrid, electric and clean diesel vehicles. The program also partners with leading car manufacturers to provide students the ability to work on the newest vehicles coming to market.

·        Expanded its Biotech programs to meet regional talent demands

·        Added 4-year degree options through a partnership with Sonoma State University

·        Touro University

·        Community investment, including mobile clinics

·        Received maximum accreditation

·        Graduated 500 in the fall commencement and is continuing to expand degree programs including its Nursing school

·        Coming in 2019…There are four key projects/areas to watch in 2019:

·        The Nimitz Group’s potential acquisition of Lennar properties on Mare Island, including how they fulfill their role as master developer of the entire (north & south) island, what concepts their world-renowned master planner brings, and the impacts of Opportunity Zones and Funds on bringing in private investment previously unseen in Vallejo

·        The higher-profile roles being taken on by Vallejo’s higher education institutions, including Cal Maritime’s growing student population and their expanded footprint in the downtown, and Solano Community College’s role in workforce development

·        Renovations of the City-owned golf course at Blue Rock, the designs brought forward by Greg Norman Company for a state-of-the-art clubhouse and course redesign (while still a public course), and how new housing will be integrated while improving the aesthetics, environment and neighborhoods of the existing neighborhoods.

·        Investment in the City’s Marina through a public-private partnership that can simultaneously attract capital funding for improvements while eliminating City operational and debt subsidies.