Maricopans looking to have a bit of aquatic fun may soon be able to avoid a drive to a Valley waterpark or lake and head instead to a surf park proposed at State Route 238 and North Loma Road.
In pre-application paperwork filed with the city, Mesa-based PHX Surf LLC outlines the scale of the proposed facility, known as PHX Surf Park, which will cover about 70 acres. The city is selling parcels of land to three developers, each of whom will own about 20 acres. The remaining 12 acres will be leased by the city to PHX Surf.
A preliminary rendering and other documents envision two wave/surf pools totaling 7 acres, multiple water slides, a lazy river, swimming pools and a splash pad. A series of shade trellises equipped with misting systems would help keep guests cool during the summer heat.
Other potential amenities include a hotel, retail stores, restaurants, swim-up bar, live-performance area with shaded stage and lawn seating, spa, sand volleyball courts and a bike pump track, a looped sequence of swooping, banked turns that enables cyclists to ride with minimal pedaling.
One of the most interesting amenities mentioned is a tiny-house village with its own clubhouse. The rendering shows 22 units that would allow visitors to stay on site. There is also an RV park.
PHX Surf said in its city pre-application the project will be developed in phases. The list of amenities could change and a timeline for the project was not available. PHX Surf representatives did not respond to requests for comment about the proposal.
Mayor Christian Price said the proposed park could usher in a new era of business development within the city’s “adventure corridor” concept, a strategy to drive tourism and visitation through outdoor activities in the area. Currently the corridor includes APEX Motor
Club, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club, Estrella Sailport, which offers glider rides and pilot instruction, and Airparamo, a powered paraglider facility.
“There are so many things that are exciting in that area, and it’s a real draw,” Price said. “It’s really Maricopa’s first dabble into the tourism industry. We don’t have a Grand Canyon; we don’t have a snow-capped mountain that people come to, so we have to get creative.”
In its application narrative, PHX Surf said the park will be “a premier destination not only in Pinal County, but across the state of Arizona and beyond. The park will create a unique attraction that offers advanced active entertainment, progressive surfing experiences, water play, related retail and dining, concert and open space, and hospitality
— all immersed with ‘ocean views,’ and the sound of crashing waves breaking in the desert sun.”
The pre-application for the project suggests the fun won’t stop when the sun goes down. In its narrative, PHX Surf calls for night surfing under lights as well as restaurants, bars, live music and entertainment.
Councilmember Henry Wade said the benefits of a tourist attraction like the surf park are multi-faceted.
“We will always need something that is going to be a draw, and that (park) would be a very significant draw,” Wade said. “We have the resources to draw those folks in to get additional housing starts and some additional economic development, and ultimately more jobs.”
Both the city and the developers can cancel the land purchase contracts if either party does not want to move forward during a four-month due diligence period, according to City Manager Rick Horst.
“Do I think that will happen?” asked Horst. “No. Each day they are spending more time and money, the less likely it would be that they would back out.”
Price, however, is clearly seeing the park as an important cog in the economic engine driving future growth in Maricopa.
“It’s a catalyst to great things.”