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Bill Freehling is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and Fredericksburg.com. This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Bill Freehling.

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Kalahari Resorts: ‘We consider this a victory’

Kalahari in OhioKalahari Resorts put out a news release today on the $25 million in low-cost financing that it recently received access to. The press release is below. I’ll have a story in tomorrow’s FLS Business section going into more detail on how the $25 bond financing would work.

Click here and here for the two stories that FLS reporter and City Beat blogger Emily Battle had on this topic this weekend. Click here for the application Kalahari and the city submitted for the financing and here for the letter they received from the state telling them they had been approved.

Here is the news release from Kalahari Resorts:

$25 Million Recovery Zone Facility Bonds Jump Start Financing for Much-Anticipated Kalahari Resort in Fredericksburg, VA

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (January 19, 2010)- Kalahari Resorts is one step closer to unveiling its third waterpark resort and bringing a wave of tax dollars and jobs to the Fredericksburg, Va. area, thanks to $25 million in bonds from the state of Virginia.

The $260 million project, planned for the Celebrate Virginia tourism district which spans 2,400 acres along the Interstate-95 corridor between Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Va., was announced in November 2007 and has been on hold due to the financing challenges in the current economic landscape. Kalahari Resort-Virginia plans include an 832-room hotel, 200,000-square-foot indoor waterpark (America’s largest), 100,000-square-foot indoor theme park, 100,000-square foot convention center, four restaurants, spa and fitness center and 10,000 square feet of retail space.

According to Todd Nelson, president and owner of Kalahari Resorts which currently has properties in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. and Sandusky, Ohio, the company has invested $4 million in development costs and is 100 percent committed to opening Kalahari Resort-Virginia. “Although there is still work to be done to secure the remainder of our financing, these bonds demonstrate a strong commitment to this project from both the city of Fredericksburg and the state of Virginia and we consider this a victory,” says Nelson.

The tax-exempt Recovery Zone Facility Bonds allocated to Kalahari Resorts were made available by the state of Virginia for private projects in areas under economic stress and, although Kalahari Resorts will be responsible for the debt, the bonds were applied for by the city of Fredericksburg’s Economic Development Authority. Kalahari Resort’s allocation was the largest allocation to a single project by the state.

Kalahari Resort-Virginia will be the largest tourism project to come to Virginia since 1975 and is expected to bring in more than 500,000 guests per year which will contribute $174.1 million to the Fredericksburg regional economy, according to a March 2009 Economic Impact Assessment by Strategic Advisory Group. The resort is also expected to support 2,706 jobs of which 1,200 are full and part-time positions at Kalahari Resort.

“The economic stimulus for the Fredericksburg area and the state of Virginia will begin the minute we break ground,” Nelson says. “We expect the project to take 1.5 million construction hours to build and 85 to 90 percent of our construction dollars will go to Virginia contractors.”

The bond application states that Kalahari Resorts must begin construction by June 30, 2010. The project is expected to take approximately 21 months to complete which would put the grand opening in March 2012. 

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Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/businessbrowser/2010/01/19/kalahari-resorts-we-consider-this-a-victory/

  • mydar

    I assume this “victory” press release is required to move the apparently hesitant sources of financing for the remaining $225 million dollars needed by Mr. Nelson?

  • tpkeller

    That was the year that Kings Dominion opened, is that what the article is referring to?

  • lgross

    “.. expected to bring in more than 500,000
    guests per year which will contribute $174.1
    million to the Fredericksburg regional economy,
    according to a March 2009 Economic Impact
    Assessment by Strategic Advisory Group. The
    resort is also expected to support 2,706 jobs of
    which 1,200 are full and part-time positions at
    Kalahari Resort.”

    174 million dollars directly impacts your tax
    rate…

    no these jobs are not “executive” positions but
    there are a lot of teens and college students and
    folks just looking for part time work that will be
    helped by this project.

    I just don’t understand why there is opposition to
    this.

    at the end of the day – in this economy.. if this
    thing every goes online – it’s going to benefit
    Fredericksburg much like Central Park did.

  • cassandrasdaddy

    oh sweet jeebus!
    i agree with larry i stayed at kalihari and really had a good time and i asked the employees and they like the company. i might go to work for em myself when they get the convention center open

  • gramps

    I agree with larryg too…at the end of the day – in this economy.. if this
    thing every goes online – it’s going to benefit
    Fredericksburg much like Central Park did.

    However, there remains a 400# gorilla in the room…the word IF in larryg’s conclusion.

  • mydar

    I agree with Larry G. Every report, study, survey or glowing PR article written by the Free Lance Star I’ve read about the Kalahari project (I’ve read them) says it will great — no negative issues at all. In fact, there is not one negative element mentioned, at all, anywhere. No issues with traffic, no environmental issues; no impact on City support — not a blemish. It is as if it is all too good to be true. (And I always remember what my Grandfather said, ‘If something seems too good to be true, sign on!”) One may ask a reasonable question, however: if the Kalahari project is so golden, why has Mr. Nelson (along with Silver & Co) failed to find a cent of financing despite searching basically all over the world for over two years, even with a generous incentive package secured from the City?

  • lgross

    well.. I don’t think it’s “golden”… it’s got it’s
    downsides but the financing deal… this problem
    is widespread right now… it’s very difficult to get
    financing … It stopped the HOT Lanes… and out
    in Spotsy… Silver had originally proffered to build
    a bridge over I-95 to the hospital but they could
    not get financing for it and ended up with the
    county doing it (apparently municipal bonds are
    not as hard to get).

    So.. Kalahari could fail… no question….

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