Florida to get PerfectSwell as SoCal desert gets more legit

Two American Wave Machine projects received approval this week, one in New Smyrna, Florida and the other in Thermal, California. The company that makes PerfectSwell wave technology, the famed system used at BSR in Texas and at the American Dream Mall in New Jersey, now claims six upcoming projects including Japan, Brazil, Virginia and Australia.

New Smyrna

New Smyrna Beach Commissioners added and approved a wave pool amendment to an existing MDA for a 180-acre multi-use commercial development project. The Ocean Gate Commerce Center is located on the heavily traveled I-95 corridor in New Smyrna Beach in an area that attracts a steady stream of annual visitors.

Home to many of the state’s pro surfers including the Geiselman brothers, Volusia County also earns the title of the shark attack capital of the world. The area’s draw includes hotels, restaurants, sports and entertainment venues and is also billed as the “gateway to the beach” for tourists visiting Orlando and its many attractions like Disneyworld.

Florida has been on a kick lately with the Surfworks Resort project announced in Fort Pierce while the world’s first wave pool by Greg Webber could happen in Coral Springs. Florida is also home to Typhoon Lagoon, one of the world’s first regularly surfed wave pool.

american wave machines technology
The big draw in both New Smyrna and Thermal will be the pneumatic-powered PerfectSwell by American Wave Machines

Thermal Beach

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Thermal Beach Club luxury development project on 240 acres of Kohl Ranch (same family that owns Kohl Department Stores) land 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Palm Springs and 10 miles (15.3 km) north of the Salton Sea. Thermal Beach will model itself after the Thermal Club, a luxury resort where members can race cars on a private track.

According to press materials, the 20-acre lagoon at Thermal Beach Club will be divided into zones with different ‘ocean’ currents for activities such as surfing, swimming, bodyboarding and child-friendly areas. The 326 luxury residences will be set around the lagoon along with six-acres of white sand beach, a spa and fitness center, sports courts, retail, pool and swim-up bar, dining facilities and more. The news release said that the main lagoon will use up to 50% less water than a typical private golf club in the desert communities.

Last month local news outlet the Desert Sun reported on community resistance to the development. The story cited the discrepancy between the haves and the have-nots in Thermal. The area’s average family income is $29,500 (California’s median income is $71,000) and many Thermal homes lack water and sewage services. Developers said they will be putting forth a community benefit payment of $2,300 per home, totaling up to $749,800.

Like many other desert wave pool locations, Thermal Beach Club will focus heavily on lifestyle and multi-user accessibility.

“The money may go towards community needs, such as improving access to clean drinking water or the building of a new park; plus we will invest around $4 million to extend infrastructure in the surrounding area, including paved roads and gas lines,” said Patrick Belous, co-founder of the Thermal Beach Club.

Residences at Thermal Beach Club will range in size from 2,800-4,600 square feet and will cost between $1-$3 million, which includes the purchase of the lot, custom-built home and membership to the club. There will also be a private residence club option with memberships starting at $175,000.

“We’re thrilled to work with American Wave Machines and offer perfect conditions in an ocean-like environment with continuous days of desert sunshine and a safe beach experience,” said Brian Grantham, Whitestar Development. “We’re proud that Thermal Beach Club will bring jobs, tax revenue, and the ability to create a robust infrastructure for the area.”  

No opening date for either development was available at press time.