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Kalahari provisions OK'd page 2
Waterpark moves forward with Fredericksburg City Council and Planning Commission.

Date published: 5/26/2010

continued

Before last night’s hearing began, Farley asked the council and the Planning Commission to reconsider the need for a joint public hearing and vote on all of the planning measures in the same night—something that has not happened in Fredericksburg in recent memory.

“You are doing your constituents a disservice,” by not allowing for more comment time, Farley said. “Don’t let the developer force you to fast-track these decisions with all-or-nothing scare tactics.”

Farley specifically said the recent extension of the deadline on Kalahari’s $30 million tax-exempt bond issue from June 15 to Oct. 15 should allow the council and Planning Commission more time to deliberate.

Scott Little, Silver’s director of development for Celebrate Virginia South, has said several times that the city still needs to act quickly on these measures, because until their approval they were contingencies on the project. Those needed to be removed in order for the bond sale to move forward.

Little has said that the deadline extension shouldn’t be seen as an excuse for governmental delay.

One of the only other speakers at last night’s hearing was Jamie Lindsay, who said he is talking to Silver about the possibility of building an indoor sky diving facility in Celebrate Virginia. He said his project would constitute a $7 million investment and create 40 jobs. He said the development would not be attractive to him without Kalahari’s presence. “Without that resort, I have no option but to move north to Fairfax County.”

Little would not comment on the status of Lindsay’s project, but he did confirm that Silver has been talking with him.

Also last night, council members held off on approving several amendments to the performance agreement that governs Kalahari’s $61 million incentives package, which was first approved in spring 2008.

The council will take up these changes at its June 22 meeting, after the Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority is expected to vote on them.

Those proposed changes include moving the deadline for Kalahari to open for business from Dec. 31, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2013, and changing the agreement’s language about the phasing of the project to reflect updates to Kalahari’s plans.

The minimum number of hotel rooms to be constructed in the first phase of the project has been raised from 700 to 800. Also, the requirement for Kalahari to build a 200,000-square-foot indoor water park in the first phase has been raised to a 230,000-square-foot water park, indoor theme park and spa.

As a result, the required second phase has been decreased from $25 million to $5 million. This is required within the first 10 years Kalahari is open. It is expected to include more rooms and an outdoor water park.

Emily Battle: 540/374-5413 ebattle@freelancestar.com


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