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General Development Plan for Lake Lawn Resort's $390 million
 Expansion Approved; Wisconsin Resort Adding 1,000 Suites,
 130,000 sq ft Water Park

By Sue Yanny, The Janesville Gazette, Wis.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Sep. 14, 2005--DELAVAN--Lake Lawn Resort is on its way to becoming a four-star condominium resort with Delavan Lake as its centerpiece.

The Delavan City Council voted 5-1 on Tuesday to approve a general development plan for the resort's $390 million, four-year expansion.

Alderman David Kilkenny cast the dissenting vote. He made a motion to table the vote for two weeks while the council studied it further. His motion died for lack of a second.

The plan commission voted unanimously last month to recommend that the council approve the plan.

A company called Delavan Resort Holdings that consists of a group of local owners bought the resort a year ago, said Tom Quinn, one of the owners.

It has been working on a plan to renovate the facility since then because it saw that it "was distressed and needed new life," he said.

The renovated resort will include:

--1,222 guest suites, including the remodeling of 222 existing rooms and the addition of 1,000 new rooms.

--About 150,000 square feet of new and renovated meeting space, including a conference center and meeting rooms.

--A 130,000-square-foot indoor water park.

--A 30,000-square-foot full-service spa with 90 attached guest suites offering in-suite spa services.

Owners will move the main entrance from Highway 50 to North Shore Drive so when guests drive onto the property they can see the golf course on one side and the lake on the other, Quinn said.

Two entrances will be accessible from Highway 50 for employees, service vehicles and emergency vehicles, he said.

The resort's main lobby will be six stories, and the rest of the buildings will be five stories, Quinn said.

The owners decided to expand upward instead of outward so that nearly 80 percent of the property will remain green space, he said.

Because the owners place such a high value on the lake, they bought a weed harvester for $100,000 and acquired permits from the state Department of Natural Resources so the resort can do its own weed harvesting, Quinn said.

It will not have to rely on Delavan Township to do the weed harvesting for it, he said.

Kilkenny said he is not opposed to the project. He said he is concerned about the city's future financial liability if the council approved the general development plan.

City Attorney Brian Lanser said the city would have no future financial liability.

Because the resort is in Tax Incremental Finance District No. 3, the council decided in June to provide the resort with water and sewer for the first phase of the project, which is renovation of the existing 222 rooms, said Betty Wassel, city administrator.

The resort's owners must ask the council to provide water and sewer for the next phases of the project, she said.

The city will benefit from the expansion, Wassel said.

For example, the resort's owners have promised that the city will receive $35 million in additional property value from the first phase of the project, she said.

"The only reason I'm opposed to the Lake Lawn Resort project is because it's in a TIF and I'm paying for it," said Merlyn "Red" Dahl, city resident.

Alderman Ron Siedelmann said he has learned from traveling that people from other places are familiar with Lake Lawn Resort.

He said the facility has a great reputation.

Siedelmann said the city has appropriated money for water and sewer for the resort and likely will appropriate more money for it in the future.

"To me, it's an investment in the future," he said.

Siedelmann said he is impressed with the resort owners because their first concerns have always been the city and the resort.

"I support this project wholeheartedly," he said.


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Copyright (c) 2005, The Janesville Gazette, Wis.

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