Film stu­dio, win­ery sought at old Vallejo naval base

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - BUSINESSREPORT - By David R. Baker

A cor­ner of Vallejo’s Mare Is­land once eyed for an elec­tric car fac­tory could house a film stu­dio and a win­ery in­stead, if a Wine Coun­try mogul and his busi­ness part­ners suc­ceed.

The Vallejo City Coun­cil unan­i­mously agreed Tues­day to en­ter ex­clu­sive ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Nimitz Group — backed by Dave Phin­ney, cre­ator of the Pris­oner and Orin Swift wines — to re­de­velop 157 acres of water­front on the for­mer naval base.

Oth­ers have ex­pressed in­ter­est in the space, which lies be­tween High­way 37 and the Mare Is­land Cause­way. Fara­day Fu­ture, an elec­tric car startup com­pany based in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and backed by one of China’s rich­est men, wanted to build a fac­tory there, only to aban­don those plans last year in the midst of a cash crunch. Now Nimitz will have at least 120 days to ne­go­ti­ate a deal for the prop­erty.

Phin­ney re­cently opened a dis­tillery — dubbed Sav­age & Cooke — on the old base’s south­ern end. In this new ven­ture, his part­ners in­clude Se­bas­tian Lane, a real es­tate bro­ker and owner of De­pic­tion Wines, and Gay­lon Lawrence Jr., whose fam­ily owns farms and com­mu­nity banks in sev­eral states and who re­cently bought Heitz Wine Cel­lars in Napa Val­ley.

Their plan in­cludes a 600,000-square foot film stu­dio for SHM Part­ners Film Mare Is­land. The Net­flix se­ries “13 Rea­sons Why” al­ready films some

scenes on the is­land.

In ad­di­tion, the de­vel­op­ment would in­clude space for a win­ery, plus its ware­houses, pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties and a tast­ing room. Joel Gott Wines and Safe Har­bor Wine Part­ners have ex­pressed in­ter­est.

The project would also in­clude of­fice and re­tail space as well as a com­mu­nity park.

“Dave Phin­ney and Nimitz Group have a plan that is ex­cit­ing, for­ward-think­ing and high-end,” Vallejo Mayor Bob Sam­payan said in a state­ment. “This vi­sion is some­thing Vallejo has been clam­or­ing for since North Mare Is­land opened for de­vel­op­ment sev­eral years ago.”

Car­los Avila Gon­za­lez / The Chron­i­cle 2017

Napa Val­ley wine­maker Dave Phin­ney walks through the site of dis­tillery Sav­age & Cooke on Mare Is­land in Oc­to­ber. He wants to re­de­velop 157 acres of water­front on the for­mer naval base for a win­ery and film stu­dio.

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