Surf park project in Chesterfield moves forward
Phase one of what is being touted as the “world’s largest surf park” is a go in Chesterfield County, and developers and the county have emerged with environmental permits despite a gap in the state’s regulatory framework.
The Lake, a 105-acre, mixed-use development between state Route 288 and Genito Road, is set to move forward with a 13-acre pond for water skiers who will be towed by overhead cables. Future phases will include the project’s centerpiece: a 6-acre “artificial standing wave” surfing pool designed by American Wave Machines, located among 750 apartments, a 170-room hotel and 150,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space, including an amphitheater, according to plans submitted to the county.
“As Virginia continues to gain notoriety worldwide for its unique, authentic, outdoor living and quality of life, we think our project builds upon this narrative and will add another reason why people will want to live here,” says Brett Burkhart, principal with the developer, Flatwater Cos. LLC of Richmond. He declined to cite costs or a timeline, but AWM said in a January news release that “surfing is anticipated in fall 2021.”
Developers have revised their submission four times since the county rezoned the land in 2017, in part because manmade ponds don’t fall under the same state and local regulatory framework that covers pools and water parks. By “trial and error,” county officials researched how other states handled such facilities, says Scott B. Smedley, the county’s director of environmental engineering.
The main point of contention was aerating the pond, which county officials said was necessary to prevent stagnation and potentially harmful microorganisms.
Plans for The Lake always included a natural wetlands re-circulation system to treat the stormwater and groundwater that will be used to fill the 18- million-gallon pond, Smedley says. With the addition of aeration, county officials no longer have environmental concerns, he adds.
The developers also submitted 23 subcategorized proffers addressing roads and transportation, utilities, housing, vegetation and protocols for water treatment and testing, including providing current water quality information on-site and via online media.
“The proffers simply show the level of effort, above and beyond other parks, we have taken to make this a world-class venue,” Burkhart says.
Another major surf park project — Virginia Beach’s Atlantic Park, a joint effort between the city of Virginia Beach, Venture Realty Group and Grammy Award-winning musical artist Pharrell Williams — won’t have the same environmental hurdles as The Lake, says Venture Managing Partner Mike Culpepper.