A major tourism attraction proposed for Maricopa that could bring a new type of visitor to the city took its first steps toward becoming a reality Monday night.
The PHX Surf planned area development — including its development land-use plan, permitted uses and development standards — unanimously was approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission. The PHX Surf project is proposed as a surf and water park with on-site hospitality, retail, restaurant and outdoor entertainment center.
One major change announced at the meeting is that the developers are considering not building a hotel on the property but relying on the villas adjacent to the main surf lagoon as the primary onsite lodging.
An RV park and tiny-house village also are planned at the venue, giving guests several options for staying on the property.
The 71-acre project is bordered by Hogenes Dairy to the west, the Ak-Chin Community to the north, West Maricopa Village to the northeast and Estrella Gin to the southeast. To the south is general rural zoning.
Byron Easton, city planner, said PHX Surf will bring an entirely different type of visitor to Maricopa.
“This is a very unique product to Maricopa,” Easton said. “This is going to be something that is going to attract a lot of tourism, a lot of visitors to our community and also provide a lot of recreation and job opportunities to our residents.
“This is a competition-level surf park, first and foremost,” he continued. “It’s not necessarily what you’d think of like Big Surf, with a lot of little kids in a giant wave pool. This is actually built for surfers and to bring surfers and surf recreation to our area. The applicant is planning on having international surf competitions here. People will fly into (Phoenix Sky Harbor International) Airport, come down and stay in our city for surf competitions and the associated entertainment options, such as concerts and things like that. That’s the main use of this area.”
Surfing will be the heart of the attraction, with competitions, lessons, recreational surfing and a surf academy. But that is far from all that will be going on at the site.
According to pre-application documents, there will be attractions to appeal to a wide range of interests.
“(The site features) various water attractions, including slides and a ‘lazy river,’ pump track, spa and outdoor concert stage,” the documents state. “Various hospitality options exist, including upscale hotel, surf villas and an RV campground that will allow patrons the unique ability to bring their own recreational vehicle to the site, all of which will allow the project to capitalize on various types of patron demand.”
In addition to Valley and Arizona demand, developers expect to draw visitors from nearby states and even internationally to the park. They expect guests will come to “stay and play” as they take advantage of access to the surf, beaches and aquatic experiences the park offers.
In addition to the recreational and lodging amenities within the PAD, the proposal calls for a three-building retail district totaling 31,000 square feet commercial space. The Surf Center and Surf Academy Village in the center of the development will feature 26,100 square feet of administration, ticketing and instruction areas.
The commissioners expressed enthusiasm for the project, with their questions centered around three areas: water use, traffic and noise.
Global Water Senior Vice President of Water Resources and Legislative Affairs Jake Lenderking said there may be misconceptions about how much water the park will use.
“Global Water has a designation of an assured water supply of 22,914-acre-feet,” he said. “That is something we get from the Arizona Department of Water Resources, where we prove that we have a 100-year supply of that amount of water, year after year. Today we (Maricopa) are using about 8,000 acre-feet of our 23,000 acre-feet of water supply. Our water supply was proven out using sophisticated groundwater modeling of the local groundwater that looked at 100 years of pumping of that groundwater aquifer.
“Based on project demand, we see the net water demand of the project being about 189 acre-feet per year. That is 0.89 percent of the total supply for Maricopa. And again, our assured water supply is 23,000 acre feet.”
Lenderking added that in working with PHX Surf project engineers, the team found ways to incorporate water reuse and recycling processes that will allow PHX Surf to reduce that usage to just 0.65 percent of the city’s assured water supply. Those uses include using backwash water from the lagoons and pools to irrigate the property’s landscaping.
He offered a point of comparison regarding water usage, saying if the same property had homes on it, the water usage would be about 100 acre-feet per year. However, if it were agricultural land, the site would use 300 to 400 acre-feet per year.
“If we look at those uses and we use that as an offset of what the wave pools would require, it’s really not as much water as we might think,” said commissioner Ted Yocum.
Yocum also noted the potential noise issues arising from nighttime surf competitions and concerts running until after 10 p.m.
“I know when you have a facility like this if they are having meets or whatever it can go until later than that, and I just want to make sure we are very aware of and taking care of our neighbors in terms of knowing what the noise is going to be and how we are going to manage it,” Yocum said.
Commissioner Dan Frank’s primary concern was traffic, especially how traffic on Green Road could accommodate traffic to the venue if the proposed Green Road expansion into part of a loop road around the city does not come to fruition.
City Planner Byron Evans addressed that concern saying, “As you may or may not know, we are taking over (State Route) 238 as a city from ADOT so we would have the ability to react to whatever situations that need to be addressed relating to this project or any other project in a much more expedited way than going through ADOT to expand SR 238.”