JAMESTOWN — A Modesto developer envisions lavish botanical gardens, along with lodging, a youth baseball complex and other attractions, on the former site of the Jamestown Mine.
The project, expected to employ about 1,700 people and cost up to $250 million, will go before the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning.
The board will consider having the county administrator's office negotiate details of the project with developer Vincent Estell and his partners. This would be followed by an environmental impact study, a possible board vote in early 2012 and a June 2014 grand opening, according to a timeline in the written proposal.
The project, Gold Rush Gardens, would be built on 765 acres, most of them part of a large gold mine that operated from 1987 to 1994. The developers would complete the reclamation of the mining pits, waste-rock piles and other leftovers from the operation.
The plans include:
Sixty-five acres of formal gardens similar to the famed Butchart Gardens, created at a former quarry in British Columbia, Canada. This area also could have wedding facilities, waterways and grape and olive plantings.
A 30-field baseball-softball complex with dining and lodging, aimed at attracting major tournaments.
More than 1,200 hotel and motel rooms
An "upscale" recreational vehicle park with 260 spaces, next to a 60-site campground
Conference and banquet facilities
More than 320,000 square feet of retail space, including a supermarket
Eighty units of assisted-living housing and 40 units for people with Alzheimer's disease
A logging, mining and antique car museum
An eight-screen movie theater
A bowling alley with up to 36 lanes
A recreation center with water slides and miniature golf
The developers said they are targeting many of the 4.2 million tourists who visit the county each year, along with about 190,000 baseball players and their families. They said they have financing lined up.
The proposal came in response to an invitation from the county, which owns part of the site and seeks a long-term use that would employ a large number of people.
"Gold Rush Gardens Inc. has submitted a good proposal and it is exciting to consider the possibilities it represents," County Administrator Craig Pedro said in a memo to the board this week. "Having said this, staff has requested that their team be prepared to address what is a lingering question in the community and amongst the (proposal) review team members — is the project really feasible?"
The developers acknowledged the weak economy in their proposal.
"The positive is that the tourist industry is one of the least impacted industries in the current economic condition," they wrote, "and the Gold Country region still experiences a strong tourism base as surrounding areas stay closer to home to save money."
The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the county administration center,
2 S. Green St., Sonora.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2385.