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

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Kalahari Resorts still coming to Fredericksburg?

Kalahari Resorts President Todd Nelson (left) talks with Fredericksburg Mayor Tom Tomzak in 2008.

A report sent out Wednesday by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board casts doubt about whether Kalahari Resorts will develop its waterpark resort and conference center in Fredericksburg’s Celebrate Virginia South development.

The report, issued late Wednesday, stated that the $260 million hotel, waterpark and conference center is “no longer expected” to be developed in Fredericksburg. It also stated that Kalahari, which has waterpark resorts in Ohio and Wisconsin, has expressed interest in a smaller project north of New York City.

Officials with the Silver Cos., which is developing Celebrate Virginia South, downplayed the report and said it was a misunderstanding. They said Kalahari owner Todd Nelson is still interested in building the Fredericksburg complex, but added that financing remains challenging and the project probably won’t happen anytime soon.

Silver executives Scott Little and Jud Honaker said the report came out of a meeting held recently involving the board of the Celebrate Virginia South Community Development Authority, which issued $25 million worth of bonds in 2006 to finance the infrastructure of the development. The CDA is required to make periodic public disclosures regarding progress at Celebrate Virginia.

Little, who is overseeing development at Celebrate Virginia South, said he gave a verbal report at that meeting stating that Kalahari wasn’t likely to happen anytime soon, and that other locations have been pitched to Nelson.

Little said the line in Wednesday’s report issued by CDA Administrator MuniCap Inc. about Kalahari not coming is a mischaracterization of what he said at the meeting. He said the report will be reissued.

UPDATE: MuniCap did indeed release an updated report Thursday morning that changes the language to say the complex is not expected to be developed “in the near term.” Click here for that updated report.

Little said Wednesday afternoon that “nobody has pulled the plug” on the project.

Honaker said he spoke with Nelson last week, and that the Kalahari owner was still interested if the financing could be worked out.

Nelson could not be reached for comment Wednesday. On Thursday morning, he said in an email that his company “will resume our efforts” when “the capital markets begin lending on large private developments again.”

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/businessbrowser/2012/02/29/kalahari-resorts-no-longer-expected-to-come-to-celebrate-virginia/

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