Lagoon water park, entertainment venue headed to West Valley

A beach party in Arizona might not be such a wacky idea in a couple of years, because Glendale will soon be home to an 11-acre beach lagoon, planned to include scuba diving, windsurfing and water jet packs as part of a 48-acre entertainment destination.

“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 of the project, planned on a vacant parcel of land at 95th Avenue and Cardinals Way near State Farm Stadium. The developer of the project is ECL Glendale LLC.

Glendale City Council gave its unanimous consent to the project after a vote Tuesday evening.

The company behind the project, Crystal Lagoons, began building the lagoons as a private amenity for master-planned residential communities, but the idea became popular and the company shifted to develop projects worldwide that are accessible to the general public as part of a commercial development, Phelps said. Crystal Lagoons is headquartered in Miami, Florida, with offices around the world, including Dubai, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Chile and Texas.

Phelps said the mixed-use project, branded as a Crystal Lagoons Island Resort, will have a similar feeling to Downtown Disney, with experiential retail, amusement park rides, a 4D theater, a themed hotel and other hotel uses on the site.

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.

The 4D theater will incorporate sensory elements like smell, temperature or moisture into the viewers’ experience. The theater will be in conjunction with SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment, which has access to Disney proprietary character and products.

The lagoon will use city water, Phelps said, and will use less than the current agricultural use on the land.

Between the three hotels, including a themed hotel planned by a developer that has not yet been disclosed, 630 new hotel rooms will be added in the area. Except the hotels, most of the development will be two stories, with ground-floor retail uses and second-floor office.

The themed hotel will be developed by the same developer as the amusement park rides.

The 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.

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

“I am so proud of the continued successes in the Sports & Entertainment District,” Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said in a statement. “An amenity of this magnitude adds to Westgate’s mega event appeal and will generate significant revenue to support residents, businesses, and the state as a whole. A project of this type is a testament to the trust and faith that businesses continue to have in Glendale.”

The project “kind of fell into our lap,” Phelps said about how the city landed the massive development. Bill Killian, the president of Killian Construction, which built the Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa, had worked with the developer of the lagoon. When he heard the company was looking at adding a location in Arizona, Killian suggested Glendale, Phelps said.

The location was previously planned to be an Ikea store, but the retailer slowed its expansion plans and the store never came to fruition. When the developer saw the site, they found it to be the perfect location for their next project, Phelps said.

“As you will see in our announcements over the next few months, we have teamed with some of the world’s top attraction, entertainment and hospitality brands to create the next wave in entertainment destinations,” Crystal Lagoons Vice President, Eric Cherasia said in a statement.