A big splash in Glendale can be a lesson for Goodyear and other West Valley cities.
A few years ago, Ikea planned to open a big store near State Farm Stadium. That fizzled, leaving Glendale leaders red-faced.
But isn’t Kevin Phelps glad Ikea tapped out now?
“Absolutely,” said Phelps, Glendale’s city manager. “Sometimes, it’s really good you don’t get what you want—because there’s something better out there for you.”
Recently, Nike backed out of a deal for a huge manufacturing facility in Goodyear. While the West Valley waits to see if “something better” takes Nike’s place, Phelps and Glendale elected officials are crowing about what took Ikea’s planned location.
Last week, Glendale City Council approved a development agreement for a massive project at Cardinals Way and the Loop 101: Crystal Lagoons Island Resort.
The anchor of the project is a 10-acre lagoon and water park, to be surrounded by an amusement park, offices, restaurants, shops and a hotel.
“We lose a project—and then we get the thing that’s a perfect fit for our growing sports and entertainment district,” Phelps said.
The size and scope of the project makes it a regional draw that could help its neighboring cities.
“I think it is wonderful,” Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord said. “It is terrific that Glendale will have this attraction in their city, and all of the West Valley cities will benefit from the increased tourism that it will bring to the entire region.”
Crystal Lagoons projects 1,800 permanent employees, with hundreds more construction workers to be hired after groundbreaking later this year, Phelps said. He said the project will be completed by October 2022—in time for the following Super Bowl.
That should mean plenty of work for those who live in neighboring Peoria, as well as a long-lasting economic boost.
“Projects of this magnitude always bring tremendous tourism value to the region,” Glendale Mayor Cathy Carlat said. “I’m excited to see this project coming to Glendale and look forward to its development.”
While some critics will point to a theme park in Williams and a Casa Grande mega project that never happened after much publicity, Phelps said he has no doubt this project will make the end zone.
“We have a lot of confidence this project’s going to happen,” Phelps said.
To paraphrase an old commercial pitch: But wait, there’s more.
“The interesting part is probably the two best and most spectacular parts (about the project) we were unable to talk about,” Phelps said.
“We’re looking in October to make a couple major announcements. The north end, the anchor hotel, and the south end, the family entertainment center—when we announce what those are and the companies behind them, it will truly give this project amenities you will not find anywhere else in the United States.”
After more than a year and “north of 100 meetings with the developer,” Phelps said he is convinced the money will line up to back this project.
“They believe they have all the necessary financing in place to do the construction,” Phelps said.
Even with up to $1 million credit for permit fees, inspection fees and other building incentives, the developer will need a deep investment team.
According to Phelps, the water park project will cost “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
On the flip side, Phelps said sales tax generated by the park, hotel, shops and restaurants will generate $24 million per year for Glendale.
But, in his view, you can’t put a price tag on Crystal Lagoons Island Resort, which he insists will change the view of Glendale.
“Twenty years ago, our brand was as a sleepy, tired community. We’re building a product that nobody else in the Valley—or the Southwest region—is going to replicate,” Phelps said.
“This is really going to solidify Glendale as the center of the West Valley.”