September 17, 2007

Destination: Delano

New waterpark/hotel project to make city a place to stop, stay

Local entrepreneurs are working to bring one-of-a-kind project home

By Lynda Jensen
Delano Herald Journal

If the dream of a new waterpark and hotel becomes reality, it will be another reason to stop, stay and spend money in Delano.

At least that is the hope of a handful of local entrepreneurs, who are in the process of courting a franchise for their plans.

The Delano consortium – father Tom Schaffer, sons Rick and Ben Schaffer, friend Curt Christensen, and their cousin from Iowa, Ed Schmidt, are part of Crow River Hospitality, which will front most of the cash for the project. The developer is Innovation Investment Partners of Delano.

“We’re a bunch of little guys, who figured out how to do big things,” Rick Schaffer commented. The Schaffers work together at US Aquatics in town, which is owned by Tom Schaffer.

If all goes as planned, Delano will be home to a one-of-a-kind hotel, banquet hall and 11,000-square foot water park, complete with a lazy river, body and tube slides as well as a lap and therapy area.

The banquet hall will be able to accommodate up to 350 people, which can be divided into three rooms.

The hotel will offer 80 rooms initially, with a total of 112 rooms when all is said and done.

“There will be nothing else like it,” Rick said. The nearest hotel similar in services would be Buffalo, Long Lake or Litchfield. The nearest water park is in Monticello.

For banquet halls, depending on the definition used, there are facilities at the Rockford town hall or the Medina Entertainment Center, but that’s it.

The project will be located on 3.6 acres along Highway 12 between Ridgeview Medical Clinic and Delano Crossings. The land was rezoned and a preliminary site plan for the project approved, in spring 2006.

Last December, Innovation Investment Partners submitted an administrative permit application requesting tax abatement and the possible waiver of the sewer and water access charges.

As of this date, the city has not acted on these requests, according to Administrator Phil Kern.

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