GILROY — Bonfante Gardens, the bucolic but cash-strapped theme park built by a former supermarket mogul, is expected to open again in the spring after the City Council approved a rescue plan.
The city agreed to allow development of 85 homes on 50 acres of nearby land owned by Michael Bonfante, who sold his Nob Hill grocery store chain in 1998 to build the tree-dominated amusement park.
The zoning change effectively increases the land’s value, which will help Bonfante secure another $7.5 million in funding to keep the park in business. It is not known whether any new houses will be built.
After more than 20 years of planning, the $100 million, 75-acre park opened last June to critical acclaim for its unusual focus on nature. It also featured rides such as the Artichoke Dip and Garlic Twirl.
It closed for the season in September, 13 weeks early, due to a financial shortfall despite having attracted more than 280,000 visitors.
Gilroy officials earlier rejected a plan that would have guaranteed bank loans.
The park, located about 30 miles south of downtown San Jose, is expected to reopen March 29, said spokesman Dan Orloff.
On the Net:
Bonfante Gardens: http://www.bonfantegardens.com