Bloomington Selects Nonprofit Entity for Water Park in South Loop
Over the last couple of months, the City has been in the process of further analyzing a water park project that would be connected to Mall of America (MOA) in the South Loop District. The water park project would be one of the largest indoor water parks in North America with a building footprint of about 250,000 sq. ft. and a total area, including all interior multi-story floor areas, around 335.000 sq. ft. The project would cost approximately $250 million to construct.
MOA will lease the water park land, which is located north of the existing mall and east of IKEA, to the City of Bloomington. The City will sublease the land to a nonprofit entity (NPE) who will be the leasehold owner of the water park and borrower of the debt to allow construction of the water park. The NPE will own the water park while the bonds are being repaid.
The City issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to seven NPEs with previous experience in public/private partnership developments to find a partner for the water park project. Five NPEs submitted responses. A team of City staff and consultants interviewed three of the NPEs and recommended working with Provident Resource Group (Provident) to the City Council at their concurrent meeting with the Port Authority on July 1, 2019. Provident’s nonprofit mission is, in part, to lessen the burdens of government and provide economic development, which are both official terms the IRS uses to grant Provident its 501c3 nonprofit status. Using a nonprofit like Provident for this project truly does lessen the burdens of the City in a number of ways, and the project promotes economic development.
“The project will continue to be analyzed by City and Port Authority staff working closely with the NPE and consultants who specialize in the development and management of water parks across the country,” Port Authority Administrator Schane Rudlang said.
After discussion at the concurrent City Council and Port Authority meeting, the Council and board members agreed with the staff recommendation to move forward with negotiating and drafting an agreement between the City and Provident to deliver the water park project.
“This will be a beneficial project for Bloomington as well as the entire region,” Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead said.
Once an agreement is developed between the City and Provident to be the nonprofit owner and operator of the water park, it will be brought back to the City Council and Port Authority for consideration at a future meeting.