Typhoon Texas set to open restaurant in 2020 in proposed PCDC contract revision

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Updated 10:50 a.m., Nov. 15

The Pflugerville Community Development Corp. board of directors Nov. 15 approved a proposed amendment to its contract with Typhoon Texas to release the PCDC from repaying $4.5 million in improvements to the water park.

According to PCDC Executive Director Amy Madison, the revised agreement requires Typhoon Texas to make additional capital improvements before the 2019 season and to develop a year-round restaurant to open in 2020.

“Our action tonight is the first step in reaching an agreement that encourages Typhoon Texas’ future investment in the water park,” Madison said at the Nov. 15 meeting.

In exchange PCDC will pay for traffic and pedestrian access improvements at FM 685 and Town Center Drive to accommodate the efforts to build the restaurant. Construction on the road improvements is expected to begin after Sept. 3, 2019, with completion by April 30, 2020.

In PCDC’s original contract with Typhoon Texas, PCDC was required to build a $4.5 million reserve for a possible repayment to the water park. PCDC has already set aside $1.8 million in the reserve with another $900,000 in this year’s budget. The amendment would free that $2.7 million.

“The amended contract removes financial obligation by the PCDC and frees up $2.7 million for other economic development projects,” PCDC board of directors President Ken D’Alfonso said in a statement. “It is with great confidence that we work with Typhoon Texas on improvements to the park to ensure continued future growth and long-term success.”

The amendment also would release PCDC from providing a $25,000 annual marketing grant through 2021, according to PCDC. The new contract will require Typhoon Texas to renovate a portion of its main building and provide PCDC with a 2018 lease payment of $650,000 and invest $500,000 for capital improvements by May 1, 2019.

“It was a joint agreement that provides for future expansion. They were willing to release us from our obligation if we were willing to fund investment in the park,” Madison told Community Impact Newspaper. “It made more sense to partner with us now for future expansion… We mutually agreed on that.”

Typhoon Texas would also have the ability to use the property as collateral in a loan to fund a new attraction, according to the proposed contract.

Pflugerville City Council will consider the amendment and vote for final approval at its Nov. 27 meeting.

 

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  1. Highland Park Homeowner

    PCDC always seems to whitewash the news about that water park, as they seem to be doing again. Why do we only hear about all the current disastrous financial details regarding that water park AFTER a new deal is made? What I’m reading here today is that our lovely little water park continues to absorb taxpayer money via PCDC. (Does anybody in PCDC or city council dispute that?) The bigger question should be “Why does PCDC continue to spend our tax money on ANY private business that has proven year after year that they can’t stand on their own two feet”? If PCDC really believes that throwing good money after bad on this water park has been a good investment for the city, and is worthy of continued taxpayer subsidies, then what has been the total cost and return to the taxpayers since the park’s inception?

    Is there any local official who has the guts to stand up and say, “We made a huge mistake on that water park, and we’re not going to support it any further”. Go ahead and blame it on previous administrations, if you need to save face, but please cut the taxpayer umbilical cord to that water park NOW!

    And to our PCDC officials: You continue to treat us taxpayers like fools, and you waste our tax money! I have never seen an EDC more hated by the community than PCDC. Please disband ASAP, and let us keep that half cent sales tax that you rob from us every time we go shopping! The economy has never been stronger, you will have no problem finding jobs elsewhere. This city clearly has more economic growth than it can handle, and we don’t need to be paying you for further diluting our workforce. We need white collar jobs, not more blue collar jobs. For example, ALDI has a new sign up in front of their store offering $13.90 for workers + benefits, and they’re temporarily using workers from Killeen because there simply aren’t enough workers in this town to support all the businesses that already exist! PCDC, you are hurting our local businesses and shoppers, and you are NOT appreciated!

    • Call me a CREEKSIDE RESIDENT for disbanding the PCDC immediately. It is an outright and complete fraud upon the Pflugerville taxpayers. Amy Madison, where are all the metrics and measurements to prove PCDC is spending our tax dollars for highest and best Return On Investments? You can’t, and that’s why your website is just a rah-rah feel good serving of gibberish and pablum. And the city manager hasn’t a clue as to how bad it really is over there at PCDC. And it looks like the PCDC is back to old tricks by “poaching” area businesses (College Station). Guess they can’t break this ineffective old habit, but hey, when you can’t point to any other accomplishments other than racking up $1M+ bureaucratic expenses you have to resort to robbing other Texas communities. PCDC, You are totally worthless and not accountable to your real bosses – the Pflugerville taxpayers. Robert Hicks

  2. You gotta look at the big picture. Yes, it is true, that PCDC has wasted millions and millions of taxpayer dollars over the years, and they should have disbanded years ago. The biggest visible mistake they ever made is guaranteeing the loan for that water park, and that’s why taxpayers are still on the hook.

    The original water park concept was seriously flawed, and that’s why it quickly failed. That big area in the back of the building was supposed to have been a laser tag facility, but the bowling alley by Walmart and that pizza/activity place on I-35 claimed that market. They also had a chuck-e-cheese type of party place there for kids birthday parties, but that business never really got off the ground, presumably because of it’s close association with the failed water park that is only open a few months out of the year. They have a nice event center there that most people don’t even know about. I never could figure out what that failed too. Perhaps it was due to poor management, and the fact that it’s also part of a water park that is closed for most of the year. Bad architecture could have played a role there too, as only the back door to the event hall is visible on 685. I think that was a mistake due to pushing the overall waterpark design through the system too fast. They should have flipped that place around, so that all of the water park rides are facing 685, for marketing purposes. However, local residents understandably didn’t want any more traffic problems with a main entrance on 685, so they forced a last minute design change that puts the main entrance to the water park on the freeway feeder road. Nobody can deny that traffic near Stone Hill Town center is absolutely ridiculous, and the last thing we need on that corner is more traffic congestion from the water park facility.

    The new restaurant idea mentioned in this most recent article is cute, but they already have a restaurant there to support the water park business. It was staffed by high school students during the summer, and we heard complaints about corn dogs with cold centers. That kind of thing happens in temporary food businesses with temporary workers. They did have a successful BBQ place in that tin building out back, and that did quite well during the summer when the park was open. The only way to get there through is through the park, which is closed most of the year. I doubt if they want people walking around the water park in the off season to get to the BBQ tin shack. Not very practical.

    The Chamber of Commerce had a big event there at least one year, and it looked successful to me. I’m sure that definitely helped put the waterpark in the public spotlight, and I wonder why they moved it to that field in front of Pflugerville High. The water park seemed like a perfect location for it, a win–win situation for both the water park business and the CoC.

    For at least one year, they even turned that place into some kind of Church! I suspect that had something to do with the deep religious convictions of the previous owner. I doubt however if it is very profitable to host a Sunday Church! Mixing religion with business is VERY tricky.

    The original owner, Hawaiian Falls, thought they could attract families by giving it a Christian theme, with bible verses posted around the park, and Christian music playing on the loudspeakers. Many visitors found that distasteful,and rightfully so, especially inappropriate for a government backed business.

    The Adventure Park/zip lines were also supposed to make that place a year around attraction, and I’m not sure what went wrong there. We obviously get some frigid days in the winter here in Central Texas, but there are also some very nice days in the winter. From what I can see, the core failure of the water park negatively impacted the prospects for the Adventure park, event hall, restaurants, and kid’s arcade/birthday hosting venue. (All opinions welcome)

    The way I see it, PCDC didn’t to their homework before they got involved in this project. Hawaiian Falls already had a failed water park up in the Dallas area long before plans for the Pflugerville park were ever created, but PCDC seemed to ignore that. Also, the owner of Hawaiian Falls never built a park this big before. The whole thing was just an experiment, but PCDC was excited about the prospects of hosting “Hawaiian Falls biggest and best water park ever”! The owner knew that he needed year-round income, thus the investment in the Adventure Park attractions, event hall, and arcade. It all failed miserably, and Pflugerville taxpayers are still holding the bag.

    So why did PCDC go for this wild idea in the first place? I think it was a sign of the times. The recession hit Pflugerville hard, and this water park was being envisioned by city leaders as turning Pflugerville into some kind of Central Texas mini-vacation destination. Even our former mayor proudly bragged about that. They wanted us to be another Schlitterbahn, and the Hawaiian Falls owner talked them into believing that it was really possible. Their heart was in the right place, so don’t blame them for that, even if the result continues to haunt us. They were just desperate and inexperienced – a bad combination.

    I’m not sure about the prospects for a new year-round restaurant on that property. The local restaurants in that area have certainly done quite well for themselves, aside from serious challenge of attracting workers. It may be an idea worth trying.

    Another problem is there are water parks popping up all over the Austin metro area, and there is nothing very special about the Pflugerville park. Strangely enough, the city of Pflugerville owned their own little water park before Hawaiian Falls was every built! It’s not nearly as fancy as Hawaiian Falls, but it only costs a few bucks to get in, and you almost have to be rich to afford to get into Hawaiian Falls. Keep in mind this is middle-class Pflugerville, not Beverly Hills, and I think that demographic helps explain why Hawaiian Falls missed the mark. One early year in the park’s history attendance was so poor they didn’t even have enough money to buy enough tubes for everybody to float down the lazy river – people were hoarding them! That gave the place the nickname “Ghetto Schlitterbahn”. It takes a long time for any business to build a good reputation, but only a short time to destroy it.

    On the bright side, from what I can see, the new Typhoon management from Houston has done a great job fixing many of the old problems. I think the visitor reviews and attendance were much better last year, and I think they are on the right path to making that place a viable business. It is however hard to make money when you are only open during the short summer months that the kids are out of school, and they gotta do something about that.

    The biggest problem with that water park is that the city guaranteed the loan, and that came back and bit the taxpayers HARD. I really believe that PCDC is trying hard to distance themselves from that park and help turn it into a viable business that can stand on its own two feet without taxpayer support. However, the damage has already been done – taxpayers are still on the hook for the loan, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon without a serious change in direction.

    With regards to these continuing PCDC press releases that only view the situation through rose colored glasses – well, what do you expect? These are human beings that are trying to protect their jobs, like any normal human being would do. It’s a disgusting coverup of the truth, but completely understandable. PCDC has very little actual accountability to the Pflugerville community they serve, and that’s just the way it was created to give them flexibility in they way they deal with new businesses. Pflugerville’s association with PCDC is really little different than any parent who unfortunately has a kid who constantly gets in trouble, and needs constant bailouts.

    With all that said, I do wonder whether it is time for the city to seriously consider selling that water park to a private investor, and just taking the loss to get the whole place off the backs of taxpayers ASAP. (Oh wait, they already tried that, right?) Seriously, it may be time again to just confess to the big mistake, and move on. Sell it for whatever you can get for it, cut the continuing losses, and move on. I don’t think that will happen though, as nobody in charge wants to admit they made a huge mistake. It’s all about ego and face-saving, as often happens in politics. PCDC’s current strategy seems to be to save face anyway possible, by continuing to subsidize the park so that the park managers can continue paying the mortgage. (If anybody else views the current situation any differently, please feel free to contribute your own opinion to this open forum.)

    My best guess is that reporting on that troublesome water park will keep our wonderful Community Impact reporters employed for many years to come, and I do appreciate the efforts of reporters like Kirby Killough staying on top of this most interesting continuing saga.

    – Seth

  3. Jennifer Hudson

    PCDC brought in Typhoon Texas to rescue that park after Hawaiian Falls failed. This new restaurant “amendment” makes it sound like PCDC failed again. How much taxpayer money has already been lost on that failed water park?

  4. All – it is my belief that PCDC is doing everything possible to reduce the damage they have already done to taxpayers. Guaranteeing that original loan for the water park has clearly proven to be a huge mistake, even if their overinflated egos won’t let them admit it. Fortunately PCDC realizes their mistake, and their efforts over the past few years to extricate themselves from this self-made water park mess have been mostly honorable. They clearly want the monkey off their back, and have been experimenting with different ways to make that happen for the good of the entire community.

    I also believe that the entire PCDC organization should not be judged on this one unfortunate water park incident, as PCDC HAS done some good for the community by investing in parks and such. Their intentions have always been honorable, even though their execution has repeatedly proven their overall lack of accountability to the community.

    I am not however one to complain without offering a viable alternative solution! What PCDC needs is to change their mission. Look at their web page, and it says their board of directors “manages the affairs of the 4B corporation which promotes economic development in order to eliminate unemployment and underemployment”.

    How outdated is that mission? One of the biggest problems we have in this town right now is too many low paying basic service jobs, and not enough workers. PCDC shouldn’t be spending taxpayer money to make it harder for existing businesses to find the employees they need, but that is exactly what they seem to be doing by bringing more low-skill jobs to Pville However, that is exactly what they are currently chartered to do!

    So, if you don’t approve of what PCDC has been doing with your tax money, work to change their mission, not criticize them for everything they did wrong in the past. Personally I wouldn’t mind if they allocated a significant portion of their budget to helping subsidize ACC tuition for local students, bringing public transportation to the city, making transportation improvements, and other things that could directly benefit the community. This whole “economic development” mission of theirs seems to be badly outdated, and very counterproductive to the current community. The recession ended ten years ago, and the local economy has been experiencing some serious growing pains that could make good use of all that tax money, IF IT WERE JUST SPENT MORE APPROPRIATELY.

  5. Business Manager

    As a business manager I have to balance my books every quarter and be accountable to my investors. If I’m not making a profit for more than a couple quarters, I would likely lose my job. PCDC needs to have similar accountability to the community they serve.

  6. Pflugerville Bean Counter

    I wonder how PCDC manages their budget? I’m sure they estimate the the sales tax money they are going to automatically acquire from us each year, and then just assume that is how much they have to spend on whatever they see fit in support of their broad mission statement. No need to make a profit, just spend faceless tax money! Oh how I wish I had a business like that. Just keep giving me your money, and I’ll spend it on your behalf the way my volunteer board of directors sees fit! Where do I get a dream job like that with guaranteed income, and so little accountability for spending? It reminds me of how much money Austin just spent trying to recruit Amazon’s HQ2, with NOTHING to show for it.

    You can’t blame PCDC’s board of directors, that’s for sure. They don’t get paid a nickel, and their heart must be in the job, or they wouldn’t be doing it. We should all be grateful for their service. Honestly. On the other hand they have little or no direct financial interest in the outcome, so the whole PCDC organization is doomed to fail. “Pay for Performance” is how things get done, and I just don’t see that happening with this quasi-government business. I have no doubt that PCDC provides some benefits to the community, but I think most of the money they have taken from us over the years has been wasted – like this failed water park deal that just keeps milking taxpayers, year after year.

    I would actually forgive PCDC if they just stopped giving away our future tax money to some of these businesses which they try to recruit. Wasting our tax money is one problem, but mortgaging our future like they did with this failed water park deal is entirely unacceptable. The board of directors needs to step in and stop this type of activity, so that PCDC does no more harm to the future of Pflugerville.

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Kirby Killough
Kirby Killough joined Community Impact after working in broadcast news. She is currently the editor for the Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto edition of Community Impact.
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