Garden Grove OKs $42 million Bond Payment for Waterpark Hotel Developer

The Garden Grove City Council unanimously approved a $42 million bond payment to the developer of the Great Wolf Lodge Water Park Hotel at a meeting Tuesday night.

The taxpayer subsidy, part of a 2010 agreement between the city and Colorado-based McWhinney, is just one of the economic incentives given to the developer  to construct the water park. The city also transferred the property, a trailer park that was purchased by the city’s former redevelopment agency, to the real estate developer without charge.

The resort is expected to have a soft opening in February 2016 followed by a grand opening in March, according to a city staff report.

City officials are hoping the resort will generate $8.5 million a year in hotel taxes, a figure which is based on a 66 percent occupancy rate.

The bond payment still needs to be approved by the state Department of Finance and no money will be disbursed until the resort receives a certificate of occupancy.

Contact Thy Vo at or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

  • Bob Brock

    Looks like Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait is going to sink his teeth into some sweet taxpayer dollars on this deal. What? No mention that Tait & Associates has McWhinney as a client? I’m sure it was just an oversight.

    • occynic

      Nice try bob, but this blog is a “see no evil” place of safety for Mayor Tait. Different rules for different people.

      • David Zenger

        No, occynic, same rules apply. When Tait uses political muscle to gin up public works projects and then gets to profit off them, please get back to us.

        • occynic

          As long as I know the rules. The definition of Crony Capitalism is only the one voting not the one getting the money. Got it.

          • David Zenger

            Yes. I think you’ve got the gist of it. Well done.

    • RyanCantor


      Tell us more about these “sweet taxpayer dollars”.

      I’ll wait.

      • Bob Brock

        Second paragraph. Words two and three. “taxpayer subsidy”

        • RyanCantor

          Awww, you’re so cute.

          Tell us more about Tait & Associates relationship with McWhinney, specifically what scope and cost is related to the GreatLodge project.

          • @Dan Chmielewski

            McWhinney made a political contribution to one of Tait’s mayoral races. Can’t remember if it was 2010 or 2014. By all means defend the ethics of that.

          • RyanCantor

            Defend the ethics of what? Your memory?

            Your comment has been nominated for 2015’s most worthless use of space. Congratulations, Dan-o. Well done and best of luck on that award.

        • RyanCantor

          Nothing? Chip got your tongue?

          • Bob Brock

            Chip? What does that even mean? Step away from the bong.

          • RyanCantor

            It’s a Pringle joke, buddy. Sorry you didn’t find it funny.

            Again, answer the question.

            Or not. If you’re cool with throwing unsubstantiated rocks, that’s cool, too.

    • David Zenger

      Bob, you seem to be insinuating that Tait is doing/has done something wrong. Let’s review Tait’s deal in GG, okay?

      Tait gets civil engineering work with a municipality. That’s what his company does. Ethical problem? Of course not.

      Tait did work. Tait gets paid for work – I presume according to the Government & Contracts Code and the Green Book. Ethical problem? No.

      Did Tait in any way lobby for a public works project on Harbor Boulevard that he later got to work on, courtesy of no-bid or suspicious procurement? No. That business model is the one pursued in Anaheim where useless or dubious public works projects are created and then doled out to the clients of the man who put Murray and Brandman in office, and who later bought off Kring.

      You’re in the wrong town, amigo.

      • Bob Brock

        Does it help or hurt his hotel client in Garden Grove if he attempts to weaken the viability of high-end hotels in his hometown or Anaheim? It’s somewhat odd that there is little vitriolic outrage about this $42 million taxpayer subsidy compared to the apoplectic seizures we saw on these pages when the Anaheim deal went through.

        • David Zenger

          Bob, Tait’s “client” in Garden Grove is the city. His actions as Mayor of Anaheim are based on a principled position. The Garden Walk tax kick back is rotten public policy. Unfortunately you are projecting the behavior of Kring, Murray and Brandman on to Tait without an iota of evidence – unless, as Cunningham would say, you are a mind reader.

          Now how in the world does opposing the tax subsidy of a “four star” hotel in Anaheim help the City of Garden Grove – where there are NO four star hotels?

          On your other point, if I lived in GG – instead of Anaheim – I would have vociferously opposed any subsidy to the water slide hotel on philosophical grounds and as a business venture, as well – the ROI looks awful and is probably phonied up anyhow. Ryan would have, too.

          • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

            GG peeps have opposed many things over the last few decades, including the structuring of these hotel deals, free land, don’t worry about taxes until you are on your feet, kissy, kissy, lovey dovey and make sure you remember the city official that made it happen later, because I may need a job. It is the gift that keeps on giving … the middle finger to the Garden Gee taxpayers/neighborhoods/homeowners. The Peoples’ voices do not resonate with our elected leaders when it comes to most of these hotel deals, once they are elected, sadly. It’s them over us, every time.

        • RyanCantor

          As far as I can tell, you’re pitching a fit over $20k for curb cuts. Like it’s supposed to seriously offer some sort of rebuke to the city paying $42,000,000 in bonds, or in Anaheim’s case, $158,000,000 in tax rebates.

          That’s really, really, really sad.

          Please pony up some deets.

  • Philmore

    If you needed ANOTHER reason to find a barf bag, did you catch the recent OCReg article about juicing unemployment numbers by gerrymandering census districts, to qualify projects like this (mentioned in article) for financing at $500K each from foreigners seeking green card fast-tracking? Are these “bond payments” part of that financing, or is there even MORE debt on the project? (Sweet deal, a green card AND muni-bond income, if so! – not for the taxpayers) And why even trifle with a long-term lease on city owned land, when JUST GIVING IT AWAY is so much easier???

    • BeeBee.BeeLeaves

      Yep, 232 people from other lands invested 500K each in the EB-5 program for that 116M to make this resort happen. Hope they were vetted by the State Department. Or does that even matter any more? Green cards for all, for only half a million bucks … come one, come all.

  • RyanCantor

    $8.5MM/year for $42MM up front plus the price of land is a pretty terrible rate of return.

    I suppose that ship has sailed though.

    • David Zenger

      Ryan, you are applying business sense to a Redevelopment project. The two just don’t go together.

      Of course the ROI is purely speculative although I’m sure it was ginned up by a well-paid “expert.”