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Garden Grove to Get $300M Water Park Hotel

June 28, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

Great Wolf Resorts announced today (June 28) that they will operate a six-acre water park hotel in Garden Grove, Calif., that’s a stone’s throw away from Disneyland, the Orange County Register reported.

Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove’s International West Resort will be a full-service, family destination resort with 600 suites, 30,000 square feet of meeting space, 100,000 square feet indoor water park and additional indoor entertainment areas and amenities, officials said.

The park operator – which touts itself as “North America’s largest family of indoor water park resorts” – pushes the water park resort closer to becoming a reality, despite a lawsuit from residents at an RV park, which will have to be eliminated to make room for it.

City staff visited a number of the company’s properties and were impressed by the operator, said Economic Development Director Chet Yoshizaki.

“They have a good track record and own and operate a number of water park hotels across the country,” he said. “Not only do they operate a great water park but a number of amenities as part of the hotel that is conducive for kids and families.”

Yoshizaki said city officials and the park developer Colorado-based McWhinney agreed that Great Wolf, based in Madison, Wis., would be the most suitable to operate the park.

The 10.3-acre site for the $300 million project is near the intersection of Harbor and Garden Grove boulevards, about a mile from Disneyland. Groundbreaking on the project is expected in 2012.

Last month, the city paid $1.4 million to buy what city officials called the last piece of land needed to make way for the water park resort.

The purchase meant the Humdinger Bar – a long-time fixture on Harbor Boulevard – will have to move.

The development was met with opposition after city council members unanimously voted in favor of the park in May 2009, setting in motion the development of a 600-room hotel with a three-acre attached water park. The development means the city will have to vacate the Travel Country RV Park. The residents there sued the city in August for fair relocation.

In April, council members approved paying McWhinney $42 million upfront after the hotel opens by issuing a bond.

The redevelopment agency had originally agreed to pay the amount over a period of 15 years. However, the developer requested the amount in its totality when the hotel opens.

City officials estimate that the city will get $8.5 million a year in bed tax, property and sales taxes once the hotel opens. Yoshizaki said the debt will be paid off with those profits and that residents will not see anything on their property tax bills as a result of this bond.

That number is based on a 66 percent occupancy rate, which is a conservative estimate for the Orange County resort area, said City Manager Matt Fertal.

He explained how the company’s hotels are unique in that they have different themes. In addition, kids who don’t utilize the water park still take advantage of multiple programs geared toward children such as games and recreational activities.

“It’s not just a water park,” he said. “It’s an all-around good environment for kids.”

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