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Lodi developer plans family entertainment center for Galt’s Old Town

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Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 4:18 pm, Thu Jun 28, 2012.

Lodi-based Diede Construction will take the lead on a project in Old Town Galt expected to bring hundreds of thousands of patrons from across the region to a new entertainment complex.

The group is joining up with Wyoming-based American Family Entertainment Centers and D&S Development on a project in the works for more than a year and officially announced at last week’s Galt City Council meeting. D&S Development’s David Miry and Steve Labastchi oversaw the original Brewster’s remodel.

“Galt has a city manager and a city council that is great to work with,” Diede’s John Anderson said. “They understand to jump start a downtown, you need a project like this. We’ve created a joint partnership with them, and now we’re close to making the project a reality.”

The two-story structure between B and C streets and 4th and 5th streets is the next step in a years-long process to revitalize the city’s downtown and make it a true destination for residents, City Manager Jason Behrmann said.

The complex could break ground as soon as spring.

It would house six movie theater screens, 20 bowling lanes, restaurants including a sports bar, an arcade, laser tag and even an elevated ropes course, under drawings unveiled by developers at last week’s Galt City Council meeting.

The $3 million developer investment would require financial support from the city, although any assistance would be in the form of property acquisitions and infrastructure improvements would come for redevelopment bonds issued last year for this purpose, Behrmann said. There will not be funding from any city sources.

“The most significant aspect of this project is its ability to become the anchor to transform Old Town Galt into a viable shopping, dining and entertainment destination for our community as well as surrounding areas,” Behrmann said. “A community needs a center, a place for people to gather that contributes in a real meaningful way to the quality of life enjoyed by its residents.”

More than a year ago, the city council directed staff to move forward to find a development partner for the project Behrmann terms “the crown jewel” of Old Town.

The city is already working to create additional parking and make streetscape improvements through other revitalization projects that will support the entertainment complex.

American Family Entertainment Centers planned to build a similar venue in the Merced County city of Los Banos, but issues with its Redevelopment Agency halted the project, according to Anderson.

Galt’s project would be similar to a recent movie theater opening in Hayward, where Anderson said the East Bay city’s downtown area has come alive.

“It’s a two-story complex that turned downtown around,” he said.

Diede and D&S Development are already working together on a similar multimillion-dollar, one-story entertainment complex in Rancho Cordova. American Family Entertainment Centers has opened 400 venues across the country.

Anderson believes Galt’s entertainment venue would be a regional draw for residents from Lodi, Wilton, and even Sacramento. Based on market research they’ve performed, developers estimated close to 277,000 patrons will visit in the first year alone. It will also create local jobs.

“This is a vital project for Galt. It will increase property values,” Anderson said.

Elected officials are anticipating the allure such a site could be.

“We need entertainment in this town,” Vice Mayor Marylou Powers said recently. “Our young people need things to do.”

Mayor Barbara Payne said residents are already excited about the preliminary plans, including her 90-year-old friend who said she couldn’t wait for the bowling alley to open.

Over the next few months, Behrmann said the city will continue to acquire property through a complex process related to the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency and firm up official agreements with the developers.

“We’ll continue to move forward in a positive direction,” he said.

He sees the entertainment venue as something that will unite the city.

The freeway has long served as a source of division for the community, particularly as much of the growth over the past two plus decades has occurred east of Highway 99, Behrmann added.

“This project, along with other ongoing revitalization efforts in Old Town Galt, will help bring the community together and restore the heart of the community to its historic core,” he said.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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