The 350-acre project would include nearly 1,000 rooms, a 150,000-sq. ft. convention center, entertainment center, spa, restaurants and indoor and outdoor waterparks. According to the proposal, the city would finance and own the $35 million convention center and lease the facility to Kalahari for $1 a year.
Todd Nelson, owner of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Lake Delton, Wis., announced plans last week for a $250 million resort in Round Rock, Texas, the Madison-based Wisconsin State Journal reported.
The 350-acre project would include nearly 1,000 rooms, a 150,000-sq. ft. convention center, entertainment center, spa, restaurants and indoor and outdoor waterparks, the Journal reported.
The project would mirror the company’s other resorts that opened in Lake Delton in 2000, Sandusky, Ohio in 2005, and in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains last year. The latter development is a $230 million resort with 457 rooms, a 100,000-sq. ft. indoor water park, 100,000 sq. ft. of convention space and 6,000 sq. ft. of retail. A $120 million second phase is underway that when completed in 2017 will more than double the number of rooms to 1,000 and increase the size of the indoor waterpark to 200,000 sq. ft., making it the largest in the country under one roof, the Journal reported.
The project in Texas will be Kalahari’s first venture into a region where outdoor waterparks are the norm and indoor waterparks are few outside of a Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas, northwest of Dallas, the Journal reported.
“We are incredibly excited to bring our authentically African resort experience to the Southwest for the first time,” Nelson said in a statement. “The city of Round Rock has been incredibly welcoming, and we look forward to finalizing plans to officially become a part of this great community.”
The Round Rock City Council is scheduled to vote June 23 on a memorandum of understanding that would lead to negotiations on incentives, a development agreement and zoning changes that could take three to nine months to complete. City officials believe the resort could help draw 1 million people to the area and employ more than 700, the Journal reported.
“This is essentially a new industry for Round Rock that will provide substantial property tax revenues and diversify available employment opportunities,” Mayor Alan McGraw said in an interview. “This game-changing project will be a great benefit to our community, continuing our efforts to diversify the local economy.”
According to the preliminary proposal, the city of Round Rock would finance and own the $35 million convention center and lease the facility to Kalahari for $1 a year, the Journal reported.
Round Rock is home to computer giant Dell Inc., which has 14,000 employees in the region. The city since 1993 has grown from 30,000 people to 115,000 and like the Wisconsin Dells area has heavily invested in athletic facilities to attract youth sports tournaments. The Dell Diamond is also nearby and is the 11,631-seat home to the Round Rock Express, a minor league affiliate of the Texas Rangers, the Journal reported.
Kalahari will need about 150 acres for the resort and convention center but will use the remaining 200 acres it has purchased for further development, McGraw said.
“With development opportunity they can control their destiny,” said McGraw, who was on hand for the grand opening of Kalahari’s Poconos property last year. “I was just blown away with the project and how they deliver the services around them.”