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    Developer buys land for massive Glendale lagoon water park, entertainment venue

    A developer planning to build a swimming lagoon and entertainment destination in Glendale closed on the land for the project Friday, paying $27 million for the parcel near 95th Avenue and Cardinals Way.

    ECL Glendale LLC bought the land, according to Maricopa County public records. ECL Glendale is the developer of the 48-acre project, which was approved by Glendale City Council in September 2020.

    “From day one we felt this would be the type of project that would bring a significant change for the area,” Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps said when the project was announced in September 2020.

    The project is planned to include an 11-acre lagoon by Florida-based Crystal Lagoons USA, which started using its lagoons as a private amenity for residential communities but has grown to add lagoons that are accessible to the general public. The Glendale one will be part of the larger, mixed-use development that is planned to include experiential retail, amusement park rides, a 4D theater, a themed hotel and other hotel uses on the site. In total, 630 new hotel rooms are planned to be added to the area between three new hotels.

    The project will also include an “aero bar,” a bar in the middle of the lagoon on a vertical structure that becomes elevated 135 feet in the air so patrons can get a 360-degree view. It also will include “the world’s largest helium balloon,” according to Phelps. The balloon will be on a tether with a gondola that raises riders 400 feet in the air. A wind study showed the balloon will be able to operate an average of 300 days per year, Phelps said.

    Ready by Super Bowl

    As part of the deal with the city, the project will be developed in a single phase and is expected to be operational by October 2022, ahead of when the city will host the Super Bowl in early 2023.

    The lagoon project will be granted a permit and plan fee waiver up to $1 million and will be developed with a 25-year “partial” GPLET, or government property lease excise tax agreement, on the restaurant, theater, amusements, retail and lagoon concessions. The developer will pay an annual fee of $120 for rent on the project.

    According to an analysis done by Applied Economics, the GPLET incentive is worth $29.7 million over the 25-year period, and the project will generate $700.8 million over the same amount of time. In total, the development will include 978,000 square feet of development and cost about $260.24 million to construct.

    Glendale’s lagoon is the second such project planned in the Valley. In Mesa, developer Cole Cannon is planning a surfing lagoon called Cannon Beach. Construction on that project has started and is expected to be complete in summer 2022.

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