Archive for Thursday, July 23, 2009

Resort to bring revenue, 2,000 jobs to the area

July 23, 2009

Currently an entity in and of itself, Schlitterbahn Waterpark will, during the next two years, become a focal point of an entire Schlitterbahn Vacation Village.

Marketing director Chris Ozimek said the building of the waterpark was phase 1 of the $750 million project.

“And then it’s kind of a continuous flow of construction, introducing various elements as we move forward,” Ozimek said, noting that there were no additional defined phases of the project, but that different aspects would be constructed until the entertainment center’s final completion, expected in late 2011.

The Vacation Village will be a resort of shops, unique lodging, restaurants and entertainment, all connected by a transportainment river system that will be called the Guada-Comal River. This river will make walking from destination to destination obsolete, as ferries and small boats will be available to take guests wherever they want to go in the Vacation Village.

Ozimek said the name of the river was inspired by the Comal and Guadalupe rivers in New Braunfels, Texas, the site of the original Schlitterbahn Waterpark, built 30 years ago. The entire village, however, is inspired by another area of Texas.

“The idea is that we’re loosely recreating the San Antonio River Walk,” Ozimek said. “It’s a unique shopping experience.”

One of the first parts of the village to be constructed, Ozimek said, will be a 221,000-square foot Scheels sports store. Ozimek said ground is expected to be broken on the store later this summer. Construction is also continuing on the Guada-Comal River, and more expansions will be made to the waterpark itself. “Treehauses,” which will be log cabin-type lodgings built in trees, are expected to be in place by next year.

“(We’ll) introduce things to the public little by little throughout the process,” Ozimek said. “It won’t be a set phase that says, ‘hey, we’re opening a big treehaus.’”

Future installments will include an amusement riverpark, with a carousel and smaller amusement park rides, and an indoor skydiving simulating adventure called SkyVenture.

Ozimek said so far, $178 million has been spent in constructing the waterpark, with the majority of that money going into the local Kansas City area in the form of property taxes, local payroll, the purchase of the land and other purchases made to get the park rolling.

“And there’s a lot more to come,” he said of how the park will benefit the economic climate in the area, adding that, once the Vacation Village is complete, there will be a need to fill close to 2,000 jobs.

The Vacation Village, when complete, should draw more people to the area than has ever been seen before, Ozimek said.

“Not only do we think people in this area will be interested, but we think people across the country will be very interested in coming to Kansas City just for Schlitterbahn,” Ozimek said.

He said the point wasn’t to take business away from nearby attractions like The Legends at Village West, but to add to the entire package.

“This is an experience that, when complete, guests will be able to come here and spend an entire vacation here,” Ozimek said. “And we’re in a wonderful area with lots of other entertainment … We’ll fill up hotel rooms, we’ll fill up restaurants. In general, we’ll increase tourism to the overall area.”

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