Pharrell Williams-backed surf park on its way
After almost a year of negotiations, Virginia Beach City Council has struck a deal with Venture Realty Group to develop a mixed-use surf park and entertainment venue covering three city blocks near the oceanfront.
Called Atlantic Park, the $325 million project will be built on the 10-acre site of The Dome, the geodesic concert venue and civic center that was demolished in 1994. Venture Realty Group teamed up with music superstar and Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams to promote the development as an innovative way to transform the site into a year-round destination for locals and tourists and drive economic development throughout the city.
“We want to be associated with a project that is transformational not only for the oceanfront but for the entire city,” says Michael A. Culpepper, managing partner with the Virginia Beach-based real estate firm.
The project’s centerpiece will be the Wavegarden Lagoon surf park, which will employ innovative wave-making technology from Spain. Similar facilities have opened in Spain, the United Kingdom and Australia, and one is currently under development in California, but this park would be the first on the East Coast. There also will be office space, retail, apartments and parking garages. However, the project’s main focus will be on family-friendly ticketed attractions and a 3,500-seat entertainment venue.
“Very few surf parks are integrated into this type of mixed-use development,” Culpepper says. “It affords us the opportunity to be creative and innovative. Nothing about this project is cookie-cutter.”
Virginia Beach is contributing approximately $95 million to the project for parking, streetscapes and the entertainment center. City Council has approved spending $9 million from the Tourism Improvement Program fund to acquire additional land for the development. Council also would oversee a community development authority to issue and sell bonds and collect real estate taxes inside the park. The city will establish performance grants of up to $5 million annually for 20 years based on tax revenues from Atlantic Park. No general fund tax revenues will be used.
Venture Realty Group will secure financing for $230 million to cover the residential, retail and office sections and the wave lagoon. Under the development agreement, the firm has approximately nine months to obtain the funds.
Construction is expected to begin in a couple of years, with components of the park set to be in operation in four to five years.