ELLENSBURG—What would be the largest indoor water park in the Pacific Northwest has been delayed by the economic downturn but remains on track for a start of construction this year, according to developer Gene Martin of Ellensburg.

Lakeland Landing water park would be built on 46 acres off Umptanum Road, across the street from Wing Central's Roadhouse Grill and the Best Western.

It's envisioned as not just a water park, but as the largest indoor water park (45,000 square feet) in the Pacific Northwest, complete with two hotels, restaurants, wine tasting rooms, and boutique-style retailers.

"All the infrastructure is in and approved," Martin said.

"We're just finalizing financing on the water park," he said. "The date we're anticipating opening is spring 2011."

The fact that the project has roads, street lights and the utilities already installed has made it the focal point of many questions from the public on when it will be completed.

City is satisfied

From the standpoint of the city of Ellensburg, Martin has fulfilled every obligation to date.

"Everything we've required is there," said Mike Smith, director of the city's Department of Community Development.

Martin acknowledged that it is tough to obtain financing in this economy.

"It is an extremely tight loan market," Martin said.

This project is considered a destination water park, Martin said, attracting users from the community and visitors from the West Side.

"The water park will be tied to the hotel by glass walkway so you can suit up in your room," Martin said. The water park "will also be open to the general public."

Martin has separate contractors for each component of the project - hotels, restaurants, retail center and water park.

"That way we can have several buildings going up at once and get everything done," Martin said.

A company called White Water would construct the water park, Martin said, and a group out of Spokane would operate the facility.

"That's basically done," Martin said.

Over the next few months, Martin will be working on getting the needed approvals from the city and the state to construct the facilities.

The original estimate for the project was $60 million, but Martin said it's slightly higher now. When everything is constructed, Martin said the entire complex would employ 750 to 800 workers.

Martin said the park needs to be ready to open in the spring to capitalize on summer travelers.


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