Water park eyes berth in quiet PTC neighborhood

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UPDATED for print Jan. 20, 2014 — So far, three Peachtree City Council members are noncommittal 

about a proposed water park resort and retail area supplanting a quiet, nearly invisible conference center less than a mile from City Hall. A fourth, Mike King, indicated his potential support for the swap.

The nation’s largest chain of family-oriented, indoor water park resorts has its sights set on Peachtree City — the very heart of Peachtree City, as reported exclusively by TheCitizen.com Sunday.

Great Wolf Lodge Family Resorts is proposing to expand the facilities on the 38-acre site currently occupied by the Dolce Atlanta-Peachtree Hotel and Resort on Aberdeen Parkway.

The proposal by Great Wolf Lodge of Georgia LLC requests the rezoning of the 38.4-acre property from GC (general commercial) to LUC (limited use commercial) to redevelop the property.

In addition to the water park and hotel, the application states that the property will include a theater, specialty restaurants, arcades, spas, fitness rooms and children’s activity areas, many of which would be open to the general public.

The proposed expansion would bring a service road to within 20 feet of the back yards of an existing residential neighborhood and a multi-story water slide structure to within 40 feet of those same homes.

Asked for her opinion on the upcoming proposal, Mayor Vanessa Fleisch said she needed to keep her comments to a minimum given that the proposal will be coming before the Planning Commission.

“I want to see what’s presented at planning,” Fleisch said, adding that it is good that the property is being looked at for redevelopment.

Councilwoman Kim Learnard said she has limited knowledge on the proposal, though she is looking forward to hearing more about it. Learnard said she has seen a Great Wolf park in Wisconsin and “it looks fantastic.”

Learnard said that, if approved, the park would be fun for a lot of Peachtree City families.

Councilman Erick Imker on Monday said, “Until I hear the proposal I don’t have any opinions. I can’t say without having the information.”

“It’s an opportunity we need to take a hard look at,” said Councilman Mike King Tuesday.

Councilmen Terry Ernst was unavailable for comment.

Below, aerial view of one of the Great Wolf  parks, from the company’s website.

The property is owned by Chicago-based Leeward Strategic Properties, Inc. Constructed in 1984, the current fair market value of the property and buildings is $8.155 million, according to the Fayette County Tax Assessor office.

The same facilities in 2007 sold for $30 million for what then became the Dolce conference center.

The existing Dolce property once housed the national training headquarters of Pitney-Bowes, the postage meter company. It was constructed in 1984. Dolce paid $30 million for the Aberdeen Woods Conference Center in 2007. What Great Wolf intends to pay for the Dolce has not been disclosed at this point. The Dolce has been looking for a buyer for about two years.

“The center was built originally by Pitney-Bowes Corp. to serve as a corporate training facility. From time to time through the years, the center has opened its restaurant to the public on a limited basis,” according to The Citizen in a Nov. 15, 2007 story written by John Thompson. “It was the first facility built on the north side of tree-canopied Aberdeen Parkway, years before any development in neighboring Westpark.”

Great Wolf Lodge currently operates 13 family-oriented, all-suites water park resorts. The only facility in the Southeast is located in Charlotte, N.C. The Charlotte resort offers a variety of suites for 4-8 people and ranges in price from $199-400 per day.

Dolce Atlanta-Peachtree currently operates the facility that includes 236 rooms and 65 meeting rooms in 178,593 sq. ft. of convention center space along with swimming pools, restaurants and tennis courts.

Great Wolf is proposing to operate a family-oriented destination resort operating from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. each day which would include 398 guest rooms and a total of 173,615 sq. ft. of entertainment, retail, restaurant, meeting and support space.

The property is located on Aberdeen Parkway approximately 900 feet from Ga. Highway 74 North.

Adjacent property includes GR (general residential) to the north, GC (general commercial) to the west which includes the Hilton Garden Inn, LUC-3 (limited use commercial) to the south with Riley Parkway and adjacent residences to the east.

City Manager Jim Pennington on Saturday said he believes the Dolce property has been on the market for at least the past two years. No city official has commented publicly on the proposed development or on its chances for approval by the City Council.

Beyond the existing hotel and conference center buildings spread throughout the 38-acre property, Great Wolf is proposing to add a 54,800 sq. ft. indoor water park connected to the current conference center, a three-story hotel on the north side of the site, increased parking, two additional stormwater ponds and a possible patio off one of the existing restaurants.

The water park is exclusively reserved for guests, according to the company’s website. Guests with visitors can purchase a limited number of wristbands, valid for one day, at $40 each. Amenities such as restaurants, spas and the interactive MagiQuest game are open to the public, according to the Great Wolf Lodge website.

Elements open to the public at the Peachtree City site would include the Bear Essential retail store, Buckhorn Exchange retail store, Northern Lights Arcade, Howlywood XD Theatre, Bear Paw Cafe, Hungry as a Wolf Pizza, MagiQuest live-action virtual gaming, Howl at the Moon mini-golf, Ten Paw Alley bowling, Loose Moose buffet restaurant, Wood Fire Lodge Grill, Dunkin Donuts, Scoops Children’s Spa, a ropes course and meeting rooms.

While the property to the west and south include commercial businesses, the property to the east and north includes residential. It is on the north side of the property that Great Wolf is requesting a variance that would reduce the buffer and install a driveway adjacent to a proposed three-story hotel near the single-family homes in the Preston Chase subdivision and the Wisdom Woods Apartments.

At left, entrance sign to the current Dolce property. Photo/Cal Beverly.


Another long-established residential neighborhood — The Coventry, built in 1984 — predates the original Pitney-Bowes training center and lies just across Riley Parkway to the immediate east of the existing Dolce.

A substantial amount of the existing facility would be renovated and incorporated into the redevelopment plan, according to Great Wolf.

The plan narrative states that Great Wolf’s architectural theme is based on “lodge” architecture and the entire resort will follow a natural design approach that incorporates preservation of the property’s natural resources and emphasizes low-impact design solutions. Additional parking areas will be well-screened and buffer areas will be maintained or enhanced around the perimeter of the property, according to the plan narrative.

In terms of the economic benefit to the city and county, Great Wolf said property taxes are estimated to total $108,000 while hotel/motel taxes are expected to generate $1.5 million. County property taxes are expected to total $433,000 while county and state sales taxes are estimated at $1.7 million.

The resort is projected to employ up to 500 people during peak operating times.

The Great Wolf narrative stated that user demographics typically project five persons traveling from a distance of 200 miles by automobile and staying an average of 2-3 days.

The proposal asked for three variances. Those include reducing the stream buffer, reducing the 75-foot setback and buffer on the north side of the property to 40 feet for the water park building and related use and 20 feet for a proposed access drive and waiving requirements for additional stormwater management facilities for the existing impervious areas.

While the rezoning narrative provided by Great Wolf has been received by the city, the initial presentation before the Peachtree City Planning Commission could occur as early as February, said Pennington.

The applicant said the city’s transportation consultant, Pond and Co., has performed a preliminary traffic analysis. While the results of that analysis are unknown, traffic conditions are expected to be similar to the existing use since the proposed development will eliminate the conference center and replace it with a destination where patrons will arrive and stay at the resort for longer periods, Great Wolf said.

Below, artist’s rendering of proposed site. Source: Peachtree City Planning Department.

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Original online story published Jan. 18, 2015 —

Rezoning, variances to be required for conversion of Dolce hotel to indoor water park; Great Wolf Lodge pitches increased tax income for PTC, Fayette

The nation’s largest chain of family-oriented, indoor water park resorts has its sights set on Peachtree City — the very heart of Peachtree City. Great Wolf Lodge Family Resorts is proposing to expand the facilities on the 38-acre site currently occupied by the Dolce Atlanta-Peachtree Hotel and Resort on Aberdeen Parkway.

The proposal by Great Wolf Lodge of Georgia LLC requests the rezoning of the 38.4-acre property from GC (general commercial) to LUC (limited use commercial) to redevelop the property. In addition to the water park and hotel, the application states that the property will include specialty restaurants, arcades, spas, fitness rooms and children’s activity areas.

Great Wolf Lodge currently operates 13 family-oriented, all-suites water park resorts. The only facility in the Southeast is located in Charlotte, N.C. The Charlotte resort offers a variety of suites for 4-8 people and ranges in price from $199-400 per day.

Dolce Atlanta-Peachtree currently operates the facility that includes 236 rooms and 65 meeting rooms in 178,593 sq. ft. of convention center space along with swimming pools, restaurants and tennis courts.

Great Wolf is proposing to operate a family-oriented destination resort operating from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. each day which would include 398 guest rooms and a total of 173,615 sq. ft. of entertainment, retail, restaurant, meeting and support space.

The property is located on Aberdeen Parkway approximately 900 feet from Ga. Highway 74 North.

Adjacent property includes GR (general residential) to the north, GC (general commercial) to the west which includes the Hilton Garden Inn, LUC-3 (limited use commercial) to the south with Riley Parkway and adjacent residences to the east.

City Manager Jim Pennington on Saturday said he believes the Dolce property has been on the market for at least the past two years. No city official has commented publicly on the proposed development or on its chances for approval by the City Council.

Beyond the existing hotel and conference center buildings spread throughout the 38-acre property, Great Wolf is proposing to add a 54,800 sq. ft. indoor water park connected to the current conference center, a three-story hotel on the north side of the site, increased parking, two additional stormwater ponds and a possible patio off one of the existing restaurants.

The water park is exclusively reserved for guests, according to the company’s website. Guests with visitors can purchase a limited number of wristbands, valid for one day, at $40 each. Amenities such as restaurants, spas and the interactive MagiQuest game are open to the public, according to the Great Wolf Lodge website.

Elements open to the public at the Peachtree City site would include the Bear Essential retail store, Buckhorn Exchange retail store, Northern Lights Arcade, Howlywood XD Theatre, Bear Paw Café, Hungry as a Wolf Pizza, MagiQuest live-action virtual gaming, Howl at the Moon mini-golf, Ten Paw Alley bowling, Loose Moose buffet restaurant, Wood Fire Lodge Grill, Dunkin Donuts, Scoops Children’s Spa, a ropes course and meeting rooms.

While the property to the west and south include commercial businesses, the property to the east and north includes residential. It is on the north side of the property that Great Wolf is requesting a variance that would reduce the buffer and install a driveway adjacent to a proposed three-story hotel near the single-family homes in the Preston Chase subdivision and the Wisdom Woods Apartments.

Another long-established residential neighborhood — The Coventry, built in 1984 — predates the original Pitney-Bowes training center and lies just across Riley Parkway to the immediate east of the existing Dolce.

A substantial amount of the existing facility would be renovated and incorporated into the redevelopment plan, according to Great Wolf.

The plan narrative states that Great Wolf’s architectural theme is based on “lodge” architecture and the entire resort will follow a natural design approach that incorporates preservation of the property’s natural resources and emphasizes low-impact design solutions. Additional parking areas will be well-screened and buffer areas will be maintained or enhanced around the perimeter of the property, according to the plan narrative.

In terms of the economic benefit to the city and county, Great Wolf said property taxes are estimated to total $108,000 while hotel/motel taxes are expected to generate $1.5 million. County property taxes are expected to total $433,000 while county and state sales taxes are estimated at $1.7 million.

The resort is projected to employ up to 500 people during peak operating times.

The Great Wolf narrative stated that user demographics typically project five persons traveling from a distance of 200 miles by automobile and staying an average of 2-3 days.

The proposal asked for three variances. Those include reducing the stream buffer, reducing the 75-foot setback and buffer on the north side of the property to 40 feet for the water park building and related use and 20 feet for a proposed access drive and waiving requirements for additional stormwater management facilities for the existing impervious areas.

While the rezoning narrative provided by Great Wolf has been received by the city, the initial presentation before the Peachtree City Planning Commission could occur as early as February, said Pennington.

The applicant said the city’s transportation consultant, Pond and Co., has performed a preliminary traffic analysis. While the results of that analysis are unknown, traffic conditions are expected to be similar to the existing use since the proposed development will eliminate the conference center and replace it with a destination where patrons will arrive and stay at the resort for longer periods, Great Wolf said.

The existing Dolce property once housed the national training headquarters of Pitney-Bowes, the postage meter company. It was constructed in the mid 1980s. Dolce paid $30 million for the Aberdeen Woods Conference Center in 2007. What Great Wolf intends to pay for the Dolce has not been disclosed at this point.

“The center was built originally by Pitney-Bowes Corp. to serve as a corporate training facility. From time to time through the years, the center has opened its restaurant to the public on a limited basis,” according to The Citizen in a Nov. 15, 2007 story written by John Thompson. “It was the first facility built on the north side of tree-canopied Aberdeen Parkway, years before any development in neighboring Westpark.”