Construction delayed again for The Strand @ Gilbert water park

The Strand @ Gilbert
The Strand @ Gilbert, as shown in a rendering, will not start construction this month as anticipated. (Courtesy Town of Gilbert)

The Strand @ Gilbert, as shown in a rendering, will not start construction this month as anticipated. (Courtesy Town of Gilbert)

The Strand @ Gilbert, a $35 million water park set to be built on 25 acres of Gilbert Regional Park, will not meet its Feb. 21 deadline to begin construction, company officials said.

Instead, construction will be delayed at least six months, said Jeff Crane, president of Strand Resorts, on Jan. 27.

The Strand is a public-private partnership with the town of Gilbert, originally approved by Town Council on Feb. 21, 2019. In August 2020, council approved a contract revision that would delay the deadline to start construction from that month to Feb. 21, 2021. The deadline for opening was then set at Aug. 21, 2022.

Gilbert Parks and Recreation Director Robert Carmona said in an email Jan. 29 that town staff anticipates bringing proposed updated schedules and timelines to council this spring and will update the community once it has more information on the next steps.

“We are looking forward to having The Strand be a great addition to the fun at Gilbert Regional Park,” Carmona said.

Crane, also responding by email to an inquiry from Community Impact Newspaper, said the company is “getting very close to our funding requirement. COVID[-19] has slowed our funding efforts a bit, but we are very close to reaching that milestone.

“Our groundbreaking is at least six months out at this point, potentially a bit further.”

The company also cited having to “hit pause” because of the pandemic when it sought council approval for an extension in August.

Under the original agreement terms approved in 2019, the town will bear no costs in construction, maintenance or operations.

The company and town agreed to a 50-year lease with options for three 10-year extensions. Gilbert would be paid a lease and a percentage of gross sales from a revenue-sharing program.

Gilbert would receive a minimum annual payment of $253,191.24, excluding the revenue share, for which it anticipates receiving between $450,000 and $750,000 annually, according to projections from the town.

That projection is based on getting 3% of the gross revenues of between $15 million and $25 million annually.

Park operators were to secure their own water source as part of the agreement.

Town staff and council members expressed enthusiasm about the revenue-sharing agreement at the time of the original approval. They also called the park unique among American water parks because of its amenities.

Those amenities include:

  • a surf lagoon that can have surfable waves of up to 10 to 12 feet created, making it suitable for inland surfing competitions;

  • a cable wake park that would use a cable system to pull riders so they are able to do wakeboarding and jumps;

  • an aqua park water obstacle course suitable for all ages;

  • a sand beach with swimming areas;

  • a restaurant;

  • a pro shop;

  • cabanas; and

  • a floating stage.

By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.