Early glimpse of $200M Sullivan water park
THOMPSON – Nearly $200 million. That’s the newly unveiled cost of the Kartrite Hotel & Indoor Waterpark, which attracted a who’s who of Sullivan County movers and shakers on Tuesday to hear about the park’s construction progress.
More than 230 came to the Resorts World Catskills property in the Town of Thompson to see the partially completed water park’s exterior and hear about the attractions that the park’s backers expect will lure 500,000 visitors annually, beginning in March.
The Sullivan County Partnership, a nonprofit promoting the county’s economic development, and the Sullivan Catskills tourism bureau organized the event. And it was a celebration of just how far the water park has come.
In 2010, developer Louis Cappelli lost much of the former Concord Resort property where the new casino and the future water park sit. After Cappelli defaulted on a loan from EPR Properties and lost a lawsuit, the giant Kanas City-based real estate trust seized roughly 1,700 acres.
Five years ago, Ken Ellis and Arthur Berry III, the operators of the Camelback Resort in the Poconos, another EPR-owned property, toured the Kiamesha Lake site and mulled creating the water park, with EPR as the principal investor.
Ellis told the crowd that EPR leaders said, “If you’d like us to be involved in (backing) Camelback, you have to be willing to be involved in Sullivan County” to open a waterpark. But that proposal assumed New York would allow gaming and the state would license the Thompson site.
“A lot of things had to come together,” Ellis said. “In 2013, Art and I were like, ‘What are the chances?’ and now here we are, and we’re like, ‘Wow, what a chance.’”
On Tuesday, Ellis proudly touted the features at the planned park, which is named for Camelback Resort’s fictional adventure character, Sir Kartrite Van Der Berris. They include:
• a 430,000-square-foot complex, with a column-free water park area and a barrel-shaped transparent Texlon roof that will bathe visitors year-round in natural sunlight.
• an eight-story 324-suite luxury hotel, with at least 420-square-foot rooms, nearly twice the size of typical hotel rooms, plus nine room types, including one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites and bunk bed options.
• an 18,000-square-foot conference area for 500 people.
• a retail space, a coffee shop and a candy store.
• laser tag, an indoor ropes course, a climbing wall, plus an extensive arcade in a 25,000-square-foot family entertainment area.
• a 200-seat restaurant with an outdoor patio, a lower level with a 250-seat family buffet restaurant, a sports bar, and a lobby bar and tavern.
• two full acres of the 25-acre site devoted to 15 water park attractions such as an adventure river, a surf ride, a teenage activity pool, a children’s area and seven major water slides, surrounded by nearly $1 million in lush tropical plants.
In a post-event interview, Andrew Limbocker, vice president of EPR’s recreation investment group, said EPR believes strongly in the property, despite the casino’s slow start. After four months, it’s on pace to earn approximately $150 million annually or about half its first-year projections.
“We’re not concerned,” said Limbocker, who listed other successful investments for EPR, which had nearly $7 billion in assets as of May, and added that the company knows when to take a long view. “You don’t make an investment like this based on just a few months of return.”