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Kalahari Resort is big news for city, Celebrate Virginia
Kalahari's Africa-themed indoor water parks in Wisconsin and Ohio are the largest in the United States.
SARAH B. TEWS /WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL
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Date published: 11/17/2007
Kalahari Resorts, a private family company based in Wisconsin, chose Fredericksburg over two other Virginia locations as the site of a $200 million water-park resort.
The development, announced yesterday at the Fredericksburg Expo and Convention Center, marks Kalahari's first venture outside the Upper Midwest region.
It also marks a huge turning point for the Silver Cos.' Celebrate Virginia tourism complex, an economic engine Fredericksburg officials are depending on to grow their tax base.
The resort will be an enormous indoor and outdoor water-park complex, connected to a 10-story hotel that would include more than 900 rooms when completely built out.
The water park will include surfing simulators, wave pools, slides and a specialized roofing system that lets in UV rays.
"You will literally get a suntan right inside the indoor water park, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in January," said Kalahari President Todd Nelson.
The Fredericksburg resort would be Kalahari's third water-park hotel.
Room rates at the original Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., range from $200 to $400 a night. However, nonguests can also use the resort's amenities by buying a $39 day pass.
Nelson said his company looked at Williamsburg and another location just north of Richmond as other potential sites.
"We just felt the location here was better, working with the Silver Cos. was better and working with the City Council in Fredericksburg, it just meshed," Nelson said.
Fredericksburg City Council members have approved the basic framework of a large incentives package that helped lure Kalahari.
Council members gave their nod in a closed session Tuesday.
"There was no way we were going to get this business from other localities if we didn't have incentives," Mayor Tom Tomzak said. "I am very comfortable with the incentives package."
City staff members and Kalahari are still negotiating the specific terms of the agreement, but those numbers should be released in the next few weeks, according to Economic Development Director Kevin Gullette.
Government incentives have become an important tool in building Celebrate Virginia.