The idea of a destination-style resort at Clinton Lake — an old proposal that resurfaced late last year — is becoming more serious.
Officials with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism are seeking proposals, due next month, to develop a 175-room hotel with a conference center and various restaurant and recreational facilities somewhere inside Clinton Lake State Park.
Robin Jennison, the state’s wildlife and parks secretary, confirmed to the Journal-World last September that he was seriously studying the idea of a significant resort development for Clinton Lake, which is just west of the Lawrence city limits.
According to new state documents, Jennison is negotiating a 50-year lease with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the lake and owns the property around it.
The resort would be run by a private development company, but through a contract with the State of Kansas. Private money would be used to fund the construction of the resort.
HVS Consulting and Valuation Services, a national hotel industry consulting firm, has prepared a feasibility study that suggests a number of amenities that would be needed to make Clinton Lake a regional destination. They include:
• a 175-room hotel
• a conference center, including a 6,500-square-foot ballroom and about 9,000 square feet of additional meeting room space
• three restaurants, including a full-service restaurant, a lakeside bar and grill with courtyard, and a poolside bar and grill
• a spa
• an outdoor pool
• an indoor/outdoor pool
• a water sports center, which would include equipment for kayaking, sailing, wakeboards, jet skiing and water skiing
• an outdoor sports center, which would include hiking guides, bike rentals, and sports court. Guests also would be expected to have access to the city-owned Eagle Bend Golf Course, which is below the Clinton Lake Dam.
Of course, all of this still is in the concept stage, and there is one big detail that is still very much unknown: The specific site for the development. The request for proposals asks developers to specify where they would like the resort to be located within the state park.
The development group also would have to make the necessary arrangements with the city of Lawrence to extend water and sewer service to the site. Currently, the state park is not connected to the city’s water and sewer service.
I haven’t had a chance to talk with Secretary Jennison today, but will try to do so. When I chatted with him in September, however, it was clear he was very excited about the prospects and had taken a personal interest in trying to get the idea moving ahead.
“I can tell you that is an idea that is very important to me,” Jennison said. ““With K-10 (the South Lawrence Trafficway) on track to be completed, that really adds to the potential of Clinton. Clinton is one of our great lakes. It may have one of the nicest marinas in the state, it has a stable water source, and it is close to a vibrant community. It has a lot going for it that would be attractive for a resort.”
There has been at least one other previous serious discussion of a resort at Clinton. That was back in 2001, but negotiations with the Corps of Engineers to allow a resort at the lake were difficult.
We’ll see how things progress this time. The hotel market already has been an active one in Lawrence. This project could be a game-changer for that industry.
Proposals are due into the state by July 17.