Vallejo City Hall seeks agreement with Phinney over NMI development

May 14 2018

By John Glidden, Vallejo Times-Herald

Posted: 05/10/18, 6:19 PM PDT | Updated: 3 days ago


Two men, a wine entrepreneur, and farmer, might have a hand in the future development of North Mare Island by transforming the 157 acres of mostly barren land into a thriving business park within the next four years.

Dave Phinney and Gaylon Lawrence Jr. formed the Nimitz Group and submitted one of eight proposals received by City Hall in response to a Request for Qualifications it released last December.

Phinney is quickly becoming the island’s favorite son after opening Savage & Cooke distillery in central Mare Island. While Lawrence is one of the nation’s largest farmers with over 200,000 acres under his ownership.

“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,” the city said in a press release.

Proposed plans include two major pieces: A 56-acre media campus for Film Mare Island Film Studio, and 15 acres for a wine processing facility, according to the Nimitz Group’s proposal.

The studio would be constructed in two phases with sound stages and auxiliary support facilities built in the first phase. The second phase is proposed to have additional stages, a retail back-lot for local filming and office space.

Joel Gott Wines and Safe Harbor Wine Partners have expressed interest with opening a wine production facility on the island. Naturally, a tasting room is expected to be included in the proposed development.

Additional components of the development include office and retail space, and room for manufacturing or industrial businesses.

A special Vallejo City Council meeting is scheduled Tuesday, as city officials seek authorization from the council to enter into an Exclusive Negotiating Rights Agreement with Nimitz Group.

If approved, the city would only negotiate with the Nimitz Group for a set amount of time. Tuesday’s action would not give final approval for the project to be built.

According to a city press release, staff, along with economic advisors, reviewed the 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.”

Staff is recommending the negotiating agreement with Nimitz because the group has current investments on the island, proposed development includes expansion of the film and beverage industry, there is anticipated creation of 1,500 to 1,600 jobs, and the group has the financial resources to complete the project.

In a prepared statement, Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan lauded the progress for the proposed development of North Mare Island.

“The progress in Vallejo, especially around Mare Island, makes me proud,” he said. “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.”

Additional proposal ideas included using the 157 acres for industrial businesses, mix-use retail, building of a hotel, a housing development, and expansion of another existing business on the island.

“I am extremely pleased with the number of quality proposals and genuine interest in developing North Mare Island,” said City Manager Greg Nyhoff in the same statement. “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,” he added.

The special Vallejo City Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday inside the Vallejo City Hall Council Chambers, 555 Santa Clara St.