Why New Glendale Entertainment District Resort With Lagoon is a ‘Game Changer’’

Article originally posted on AZ Big Media on October 9, 2020

A new resort and water park planned for the Glendale entertainment district can help anchor economic development and keep West Valley residents spending time and money closer to home, city officials and developers said.

Officials said Crystal Lagoons Island Resort, scheduled to open in two years, is expected to draw Arizonans and tourists to an area that includes professional football and hockey stadiums, an outdoor outlet mall and the restaurants and shops of the Westgate Entertainment District.

Glendale officials said the development is part of a continuing move to keep residents shopping, eating and playing in the West Valley.

West Valley cities have long competed for business with counterparts in Tempe and Scottsdale, which have high-end resorts, upscale malls, entertainment districts and a slew of restaurants and other businesses.

The resort will replace an IKEA that had been planned near Loop 101 and Bethany Home Road, City Manager Kevin Phelps said. The Danish furniture maker has packed parking lots at its only Arizona store in Tempe, and West Valley residents were disappointed when it pulled out of the deal.

City officials positioned the resort deal as a better one for the Glendale entertainment district.

Brian Friedman, the city’s economic development director, called Crystal Lagoons a “game changer” for Glendale, which has been trying to become “the premier sports entertainment district” in Arizona for nearly 25 years.

“This project, particularly, is the bow on top of everything,” he said. It “unequivocally sets us apart in the nation and in our area.”

Friedman said the resort contributes to the West Valley’s mission of slowly ticking off one by one “all of the experiential things that the West Valley had to travel to the East Valley to have.”

The resort will open just as Super Bowl LVII comes to Glendale in February 2023, the third to be played at the home of the NFL Cardinals.

It’s part of a trend toward “experiential retail,’’ Glendale officials said, adding they wanted to protect the land for commercial development after IKEA canceled plans for a store there in 2018.

Friedman said the city has spent years “protecting that freeway frontage and making sure it absolutely did not go to single-family housing.”

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