By Cecilia Chan for Gilbert Sun News
A much-ballyhooed 25-acre water park in Gilbert touting technology that can create ocean waves for surfing in the desert is delayed yet again – this time until 2022.
The Strand@Gilbert in February 2019 inked a deal with Gilbert to build the $60M project on town-owned land near Queen Creek and Higley roads, adjacent to the Regional Park.
The developer proposed a summer 2020 opening but later postponed it to the summer 2021.
With Town Council’s recent approval, the project is now looking to open in August 2022. According to a town staff report, the developer cited “economic conditions arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic” for the requested delay. The developer, however, said funding wasn’t the issue.
“The project has been delayed due to COVID-19 as we await guidelines from the CDC that can be placed on water parks or similar venues,” said John McLaughlin, founder and CEO of Strand Resorts.
His project also has competition with plans for two similar attractions in the East Valley.
In Mesa, a 60-acre project featuring water, a beach and a surfing lagoon is getting a head start. A developer is planning to start construction next spring near the Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport on the project, which also includes a hotel and restaurants.
Jerry Lehman, a former nationally ranked surfer, announced he is planning to build two Surf Town attractions – one each in the East and West valleys. He has declined to provide more details.
McLaughlin said his project is being privately funded that there is no concern by The Strand or the town that the project won’t get off the ground.
“We have invested millions of dollars to date on funding of the project,” he said. “There is still strong support for the project from the Town Council, staff and the community.”
According to town project planner Keith Newman, the last plans or designs submitted for staff review to the Planning Department were for a pre-application meeting that took place September 30th, 2019.
With Council’s approval, the developer has an August 21st, 2021 deadline to begin construction and must finish by August 21st, 2022.
Read more at Gilbert Sun News.