Great Wolf Lodge Planning New Innovative Resort
Great Wolf Lodge is a renowned hotel chain known for their innovative resorts and thrilling indoor waterparks. Over the last few decades, the chain has installed resorts all over the United States in locations such as the Greater Chicago region, Cincinnati, Northern Ohio, Wisconsin Dells. and Colorado Springs. It seems that the chain is now looking at Western Florida to be the site of their newest and most innovative location yet.
The site for the latest Great Wolf Lodge resort is on a 20 acre site off of City Gate Boulevard North, in Naples. Florida (adjacent to the Paradise Sports Complex). Naples, a town of approximately 20,000 residents, is located on the western coast of Florida. The new site is part of Collier County’s Growth Management Plan which states:
“Collier County will support programs which are designed to promote and encourage the recruitment of new industry as well as the expansion and retention of existing industries in order to diversify the County’s economic base.”
Planners presented the proposed layout of the $234 million resort to the Collier County Board of Commissioners back in August, 2020. The main hotel tower consists of a seven story hotel holding 550 rooms. The proposed hotel differs from typical Great Wolf Lodge resorts as directly behind the hotel is a Family Entertainment Center (FEC). The FEC would be one of the largest in Florida. Due to the large nature of the FEC, it is likely that the complex will have an arcade and numerous amusement attractions.
Directly behind the FEC would be the icon of the resort, the indoor/outdoor waterpark. The outdoor waterpark is located on the southern side of the property, while the indoor waterpark would be located on the eastern side of the property. The waterpark is proposed to offer at least 6 slides, according to the preliminary designs. The hotel complex as a whole, was being compared to Round Rock’s new Kalahari resort in the presentation to Collier County.
In the initial presentations to county officials, the new resort was expected to generate:
“375 full time equivalent jobs, between $3 – 5 million in annual sales tax,
between $2 – 3 million in annual Tourist Development Tax, and between $800,000 – $1.6 million in ad valorem taxes.”
In a February 2021 meeting, Great Wolf presented the results of the Market and Financial Feasibility Study conducted by Hunden Strategic Partners. It was determined that:
“the net operating income in the pro forma would be able to support developer equity of $57 million and an additional $157.5 million in
private debt. This leaves a funding gap of $19.5 million, including land costs, for the development of the hotel.
“According to the HSP study, locating this project in Collier County is expected to generate more than $5 billion in net new spending, $2.4 billion in net new earnings and more than 1,400 new full-time equivalent jobs over a 30-year project horizon. In addition, project driven increased Tourist Development, sales and County property tax collections are expected to total approximately $150 million over the same 30-year period. Based on the developer’s required internal rate of return the HSP study acknowledges that some level of County investment would be necessary. Great Wolf Lodge is requesting $15 to $20 million from the County to cover land, impact, and permit fees. Across the range of project driven increased tax collections, the requested investments would take 4 to 5 years to pay back.”
As of May 2021, the Market and Financial Feasibility Study was accepted by Corporate Business Operations, County Attorney’s Office, Office of Management and Budget, and the County Manager’s Office. Additionally, staff were authorized to negotiate a development agreement for subsequent Board consideration.
Stay tuned for more information as this project develops.
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