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City of Mesa, Arizona Offers $20 million in Incentives to Developer
 of Proposed Massive Waterpark and Resort

By Jason Massad, The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Sep. 11, 2007 - The Waveyard water park and resort is a $250 million development that would draw tourists from across Arizona and around the U.S.

The resort is one of the largest developments proposed in Mesa since a potential deal in the late 1990s failed to lure the Arizona Cardinals football stadium.

Mesa offered $20 million in incentives to Scottsdale-based Waveyard LLC, triggering a vote on Nov. 6.

The campaign in support of Waveyard officially kicks off Wednesday, with mailers and advertisements, said Robert Brinton, executive director of the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Waveyard's proponents say the resort is a one-of-a-kind destination that collects a number of adventure sports in an urban environment.

A wave pool, a scuba lagoon, an indoor water park, an artificial white-water channel and a wakeboarding park would weave among hotels, residential villas and retail boutiques at the resort. The boutique hotel was a surprise to some, but Brinton said it was always a possibility to be able to handle the 750 rooms needed for the site.

For Mesa, the development could pull in millions a year in sales tax revenue. But questions remain about how city parkland would be replaced if it was lost in the deal with Waveyard.

SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SURROUNDING WAVEYARD

Who does this affect and how?

Waveyard is a proposed $250 million resort that would incorporate retail boutiques, a hotel, residential villas and office and commercial space into a water-themed adventure park. Scottsdalebased developer Waveyard LLC released the first detailed site plan today, showing in concept how the complex would be arranged. Waveyard executives said an artificial white-water river would be the largest of its kind in the world. More than 1 million people annually -- both Arizonans and out-of-state visitors -- are expected to visit the park. It could open as early as 2010. However, Mesa voters will decide in November whether to approve the development agreement.

Where is the money coming from?

After a lengthy battle, Mesa landed the Waveyard development after competing with Surprise. As part of the deal, the city offered a $20 million sales tax rebate to Waveyard that the park's developers would be entitled to after the development is up and running. That tax incentive triggered a vote, and the election is scheduled for Nov. 6.

How is it different from other parks?

Developers like to say that the park's recreation would bring back-country sports to an urban area. The whitewater channel would be one of a handful of its kind in the United States. A large wave pool would accommodate surfers and body boarders. An outdoor scuba lagoon would allow divers to get their certification. An expansive indoor water park is planned for those who stay at the resort hotel.

What about environmental issues and traffic?

Some Mesa residents have questioned how much water the park would use for recreation. The developers counter criticism by saying the annual consumption from the park would be less than an 18-hole golf course. The traffic created by the park is more of an unknown. One of the major reasons the development chose Mesa is because of its proximity to loops 101 and 202. The park doesn't plan on making major improvements to nearby streets, such as Eighth Street and Dobson Road.

Dave Richins, West Mesa Community Development Corp.: "My first reaction when I saw what they want to build in my neighborhood is, 'Promise?'" Richins said one of the high points of the project was the placement of offices nearby. "The more eyes looking over Riverview Park, the safer the park becomes," he said. Nate Caine, Mesa resident: One of Caine's biggest concerns is the planned linear park along Eighth Street to replace lost park land. Although it is meant to maintain the acreage of the original park at Riverview, the linear park would basically function as landscaping for Waveyard, while losing amenities such as volleyball courts and dog parks. "No one in their mind says let's build a linear park," he said.

Rex Griswold, Mesa City councilman: He said a detailed site plan is essential to help voters make a decision in the Nov. 6 election. " It's hard to explain something like this that hasn't been built before. It's important to get the information out to voters. If they have all the facts, I think they will be in favor of this project." EVTRIB.COM: An interactive map and a closer look at the Waveyard project in Mesa

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To see more of The Tribune, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.eastvalleytribune.com.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz.

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