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Virginia wave pool waits out COVID-19 before breaking ground

An American Wave Machines PerfectSwell wave pool slated for Richmond Virginia was inches away from breaking ground when COVID-19 hit.

The development called the Lake is proposed to be twice the size fo BSR Surf Resort in Waco and has won approval from the Chesterfield Virginia Board of Supervisors and was all set to go.

“We will wait for more clarity on the current health emergency before we break ground,” developer Brett Burkhart told the Chesterfield Observer. “Sitting here today the future looks uncertain, but if I think what this region looks like in 20 years, I feel confident in the long run. We will continue to monitor all external factors and start as soon as we can.”

Burkhart also told the paper that while the project could be adversely affected by the pandemic, he is still “bullish” on Chesterfield as an ideal location for the surf park. He added the area has great demographics and a growing population but a lack of family entertainment and dining. Burkhart estimates that 80% of their traffic will be local from the Richmond area.

The overall commercial project is called The Lake. Within that, the Richmond Surf development will include 13-acres of water park recreation in all. The wave pool component is expected to take up six of those acres alone. By comparison, BSR is two-acres.

Another Virginia wave pool, SwellSpot is building a surf park in Hanover Virginia which is north metro Richmond. These two Richmond projects will be about 40 miles apart while down in Virginia Beach, Pharrell Williams’ The Wave Virginia is in the final approval process.

American Wave Machines has built two surf parks so far in the US including Waco’s chlorinated kid sister at the American Dream Mall in New Jersey. BSR says rides at their wave pool last between 8-10 seconds. By comparison, current full-size Wavegarden Cove models in Bristol and Melbourne offer 12-16 second rides.

The Lake project will create an entire mix-use development around the Richmond Surf wave pool. The 105-acre plan includes more than 700 apartments, office space, a hotel, retail space and entertainment venues.
Burkhart is one of just a few wave pool developers willing to go on record about COVID-19’s effect on their project. When the world hit the pause button in March the world’s wave pools shut temporarily one-by-one.

But with lockdown measures lifting in piecemeal fashion globally, we may see surf parks opening sooner than later. Australia is slowly letting up on measures and the state of Texas, which issues stay-at-home orders on a county-by-county basis, expects to lift bans in the coming weeks. The UK, home to Bristol’s Wave, is still suffering horribly and is under full lockdown.


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