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Archive for Friday, September 16, 2005

300-acre water resort planned in Wyandotte County

September 16, 2005

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— A 300-acre, $300 million water resort is the latest, biggest proposed attraction in Wyandotte County, just across Interstate 435 from the thriving Village West development.

The project's price tag eclipses even that of Village West's centerpiece attraction, the five-year-old Kansas Speedway, which cost $252 million when it was built.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Unified Government officials said the water park will bring in about $3 million in new property taxes each year and stressed that no properties will be seized through eminent domain or condemnation.

The water park will be dubbed Schlitterbahn Vacation Village, with some parts of the operation running year-round. It will include a riverwalk - complete with a retractable roof - a water park and a water resort area.

The developers hope to have the park opened in three years.

Jeff Harris, director of development for Schlitterbahn WaterParks, based in New Braunfels, Texas, said the park will be three times bigger than the largest of Schlitterbahn's three other water parks.

Harris said original plans had the company building its mega-park somewhere else, but Kansas City officials changed the company's mind.

"We were planning on building this facility in another city, but Kansas came in and stole it," he said. "Middle America is something we had overlooked."

Schlitterbahn owns two water parks in Texas, where single-day adult admission is between $32 and $35, and $27 to $28 for children. Admission prices at Vacation Village will be in the same range, Harris said.

The word Schlitterbahn in German means "slippery road," he said.

Unified Government Mayor Joe Reardon said the park will result in 3,000 new jobs with an annual payroll of about $90 million annually, and have a $400 million impact in the county while it's being built.

Jill Shackelford, superintendent of the Kansas City, Kan., school district, said she was happy to hear there would be no property tax incentives for the project - which means more money for her school district.

"This will be a neat facility for our kids," she said. "We lack a lot of entertainment in the summer. This also provides the potential for students to have summer jobs."

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