The Inertia for Good Editor

Photo: The LAKE

The Inertia

If you ever thought the wave pool revolution would stay confined to simple waterparks with barrels as the only attraction, you were wildly off target. Since Wavegarden opened the first publicly-accessible surf park in the UK less than five years ago, we’ve seen a legitimate boom of parks planned and proposed, a boom of man-made wave technologies introduced, and an evolution of how and where those waves are used.

The latest surf toy is planned for Richmond, Virginia. But The LAKE looks like much, much more than a surf park. Literally. In fact, surfing will only get six of the development’s 105 acres — the main attraction, for sure, but the other 94.3 percent of the development is probably a more telling sign of where this whole wave pool phenomenon is taking us.

Everything from shopping to office spaces, hotel rooms, and even homes will make up The LAKE. The American Wave Machines Perfect Swell pool will just be an ornament in the middle of it all. The plan includes more than 700 new homes, 100,000 square feet of office space, almost 200 hotel rooms, an amphitheater, and according to the attraction’s public web page, it will host more than 200 events a year. When it’s all said and done, the project is expected to become the world’s largest surf park.

“We’ve been working on [this development] for a handful of years, going through the permitting process, and zoning entitlements,” Brett Burkhart with Flatwater Co., the project’s developer, told CoStar. “Our firm was started with this project in mind.” (CoStar is a commercial real estate brand that is apparently promoting the development in some capacity.)

When plans for The LAKE began, Flatwater had reportedly imagined a whitewater rapids feature as their main waterpark attraction before seeing the potential of wave pools.

“It is very much a capital intensive project,” Burkhart said. “The amenities are large, expensive and rather unique. Our portion alone in construction will be over $300 million. [But] I really see this as the evolution of mixed-use development.”

Now that Flatwater’s reportedly obtained all the permits needed, the plan is to break ground this year and complete “phase one” by the end of 2021. “And then hopefully right around the same time the surf park will be coming on line, if not in spring of 2022,” Burkhart says. “We’ve set kind of an aggressive timeline and, weather-pending, we should be able to meet it.”


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