A Nickelodeon Hotel & Resort, complete with waterslides and a lazy river, got the green light this week to be built in Garden Grove.
The Garden Grove City Council has unanimously approved the sale of municipal land to a developer for a Nickelodeon-themed hotel, with 500 rooms, a spa, restaurants and a 600-seat theater.
The $277 million project on Harbor Boulevard and Twintree Lane is planned for the city’s tourist district, called the Grove District, which attracts tourists visiting nearby Disneyland.
City officials have touted the project’s benefits as “pretty significant,” which include millions in local taxes and hundreds of hospitality and construction jobs, with a preference for hiring local residents and contractors. unionized construction workers to build the complex.
“I can’t decide which excites me more – having SpongeBob SquarePants or having local jobs,” councilor Kim Nguyen told her colleagues ahead of the vote on Tuesday, September 13.
Councilor Stephanie Klopfenstein, who represents the area where the hotel will be built, called it a “historic project for Garden Grove” that will bring more tourism to the town.
To materialize the deal, Garden Grove has agreed to grant the developer, Newage Garden Grove II LLC in Arcadia, with Kam Sang Company Inc. as managing partner, a break on the sale of the land and refund of hotel tax revenue , which is expected to be $103. million euros in public aid over a period of 30 years.
Garden Grove is selling 3.72 acres of land that the city has acquired over the past two decades. The city paid $9.7 million for the land and its related costs and is selling it for $920,000, according to city documents. (The estimated value of the land is $10.6 million, according to appraisals obtained by the city.)
The deal also includes giving the developer up to 60% of the city’s hotel tax revenue for three decades, up to $93 million.
“To achieve the scale of the destination project, despite the significant challenges posed by the COVID pandemic, an economic development assistance program would be required to move this caliber of project forward,” said the deputy city manager, Lisa Kim, on the board while presenting the details of the agreement.
Meanwhile, a city analysis predicted the project will generate approximately $236 million in various taxes and generate more business for the Garden Grove hotel corridor, injecting more than $1.75 billion into the economy. from the city and an additional $2 billion in the region over a 30-year period, according to city documents
Kim said the project is expected to create 600 to 700 construction jobs, plus 300 to 400 permanent hospitality jobs and another 200 temporary hospitality jobs.
The agreement incorporated a preference for hiring local residents in the construction of the project, with 60% of those jobs going to unionized workers. This was enthusiastically received by a number of trade unionists in the audience, who spoke favorably of the agreement.
“These types of projects provide incredible opportunities for young men and women who won’t go to college, but we can put them on the path to the middle class,” said Ernesto Medrano, representing Los Angeles and Orange County. . Building and Construction Trades Council.
However, one group of workers was left out of the deal: the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 441. Councilor John O’Neill, the group’s president, stepped down from the stage and did not not participate in the discussion or votes related to the project. . But some union members have addressed the subject in public comments, telling council members they were disappointed not to be included.
“The fact that the IBEW is excluded from this agreement is a hard pill to swallow,” said a resident of Garden Grove who is also a representative of the union group.
The city and the developer are expected to close the escrow on the property before the end of the year. According to a schedule included in the agreement, after approvals and permits, groundbreaking is expected by November 1, 2024, and completion of the hotel is scheduled for 2027.
The complex will include a 23-story hotel, with a 9,490 square foot ballroom, a variety of restaurants and other dining spaces totaling 22,296 square feet, a 7,000 square foot arcade, spa and fitness center. fitness center and 528 parking spaces. Other entertainment facilities will include a Nick Studio, Studio Hall and Kid’s Lounge.
“We’re going to bring Nickelodeon into the real world,” said John Hicks, project manager for the Kam Sang Company. “I’m excited to see the characters off screen and bring them to reality.”
The resort will include waterslides, splash zones, a pool and a lazy river where guests “will have an animatronic experience,” Hicks said.
The hotel does not plan to offer day passes, Hicks said. It’s too early to tell how much it will cost to spend the night at the Nickelodeon Hotel Resort, he added.
The Garden Grove complex may be unique in the United States
The cable television channel best known for its programming for children and teenagers is affiliated with only two hotels and resorts in the world: one in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and the other in Riviera Maya in Mexico, according to Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts website. There used to be one in Orlando that featured an outdoor water park, but it’s now a Holiday Inn resort, according to his website.
Representatives for Nickelodeon could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Council members Phat Bui and George Brietigam, both former planning commissioners, noted that the project had been in the works for about a decade.
“It’s been a long road,” Bui said.
He first came to city council in 2016, but the developer had been in talks with Garden Grove since around 2015 or 2016, Hicks said. At the time, the plan called for a larger project comprising three towers with 100 timeshare units on nine acres. But some homeowners, Hicks said, were unwilling to sell their homes, and the project was reduced to land that was already vacant and available.
Earlier this summer, a union representing hospitality workers, UNITE HERE Local 11, voiced its opposition to the project, saying there is a better use of this land by building much-needed homes, as required by the State of California.
Maureen Blackmun, president of the Garden Grove Neighborhood Association, welcomes the project.
“It’s a win for our city,” Blackmun said.