|By Dave DeWitte, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Sep. 30, 2004 - A $29 million hotel and water park that encountered zoning opposition at a site south of the Amana Colonies Golf Course last year is back on the drawing board at a site on the golf course's extreme northern edge.
The Amana Society board of directors has agreed to sell 35 acres of land currently where a maintenance building is located for the development, according to a letter from board Chairman Reynold Moessner to the Society's stockholders. That land was already under lease to Amana Colonies Golf Course.
The sale will keep a development that includes a spa, water park and condominiums planned by the GilRan group at the Amana Colonies Golf Course.
The investment group had purchased 177 acres about a mile away as an alternate location, explained project partner Tom Berthel, chairman of the board of Amana Colonies Golf Course.
The developers bought the 177-acre alternate site when they realized the Amana Colonies Land Use District would not approve the development due to residents' concerns about increased traffic and the visual impact on the historic setting.
"When the Society realized the hotel may go down on the 177 acres we have, they approached us about buying 35 acres on the other end of the golf course," Berthel said.
The new hilltop site is outside the "visual corridor" of the Amana Colonies, Berthel said, and yet should provide excellent vistas.
"We're moving the hotel up to the 35 acres and are really happy we worked it out with the Society that they let us buy the land," he said.
Because it is outside the land-use district, the project will not face the same review process that stalled the project last year. Berthel said the developers plan to ensure the project's design blends with the historic colonies.
Amana Society members will reap benefits from the golf course location, according to Moessner, who urged them in his letter to support the development. In addition to bringing visitors, the resort will buy electricity from the Amana Society Service Co. and add to the tax base of the Clear Creek Amana School District and Amana Fire District.
Berthel said plans for the development will be unveiled soon and work could begin next construction season. The overall development will have a $44 million price tag.
The developers have no plans at this time to sell the 177-acre alternate site, Berthel said, believing they may want to add a complementary golf-based development there.
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