Here is an article I came across from the OC Register explaining what's going on:
Whatever happened to Wild Rivers?
The Wild Rivers water park won’t be opening south of the Orange County Great Park next summer, as hoped. Funding issues have beset the plan long before the first stream of water is expected to flow down a single slide’s slope.
In a lease agreement between the county and Wild Rivers Irvine LLC signed last July, the water park company agreed to pre-pay the county $3 million in rent by Feb. 23. It didn’t, but the county gave Wild Rivers more time, until Sept. 11. When it didn’t pay by then, the county terminated the lease.
That doesn’t mean the project is sunk, says Wild Rivers president Mike Riedel.
“There’s time left, but it’s not limitless,” he said of working with the county. “I know they still support the project and even if the lease is terminated I hope we could negotiate a new deal once funding is in place,” Riedel said.
Riedel said unfulfilled promises from funding sources that fell through – he wouldn’t name them – set the project back, but he’s recently tapped a more reliable source of funding and says he is positive the water park is going to happen.
Different kind of park
Riedel said the plans he has for the new Wild Rivers include slides paired with educational elements that will be regularly refreshed. He’s talked with the Discovery Science Center about a partnership.
“That’s never been done before,” he said.
He also wants the park to produce its own power, at least as much as it needs or preferably more.
He’s now aiming to open by summer 2015.
“It’s a really good project. It’s wildly popular - no pun intended - and it’s a good fit,” said Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer. But if Riedel gets the financing, he’ll have to come back to the county to get a brand-new lease agreement approved. “We would have to start from scratch.”
Great Park neighbor
The county owns a sliver of 100 acres south of the Great Park that it wants to develop into a mixed-use project. The county has been negotiating with developer Lowe Enterprises to possibly make that happen if it ultimately hires the company as its master developer for the property.
Spitzer said whether the water park moves forward or not may depend on if Riedel can get financing before a deal is made with Lowe Enterprises to oversee development of the entire 100 acres or just 83 acres, minus the 17 that had been carved out for Wild Rivers. He said the deal with Lowe could be ready for a vote of supervisors in the next month or two.
“We can’t keep that 17 acres open forever,” Spitzer said.
Ultimately he wants the county’s 100 acres to appear seamless with its neighbor the Great Park, owned by the city of Irvine, he said.
Spitzer said the county is under no legal obligation to continue to work with the water park but he has been talking with Riedel.
“I want him there. But we can’t get him capital,” Spitzer said. “Mike’s going to have to put this together.”
County won’t wait forever
Riedel said he understands that the county needs to be realistic. He doesn’t know when he’ll have the $3 million to give the county for the lease payment.
“I can’t expect them to wait forever,” he said. “But the ball’s in my court and I’ve got to perform.”
He also said he wouldn’t make any more promises unless he had total control of the situation.
He’s also not actively looking at other sites, but if the deal with the county fell through entirely, “I would obviously go to the Great Park and see what their situation is.”
Last July, the county agreed to lease 17 of its 100 acres south of the Great Park to the water park.
Wild Rivers had been a 27-year-long mainstay for Irvine and Orange County residents, providing some 1,200 summer jobs, while it was on land owned by the Irvine Co. near Interstate 405.
That company’s Los Olivos apartment development resides where people-filled inner-tubes once floated.
Wild Rivers promised to spend no less than $5 million to build the park and in its lease with the county represented that it had enough money to complete construction.
Riedel has also been working with the city of Temecula to build a water park there but that project also encountered funding hurdles and missed deadlines which will require the company to come back to the city with a new agreement, according to a report from the Press-Enterprise newspaper in Riverside.
Orange County Supervisors approved a lease with Wild Rivers Irvine on July 31, 2012. The county agreed to supply parking. Here's what Wild Rivers agreed to:
- Pay $3 million in refundable rent within 180 days of the full execution of the lease (effective when the 100-acre quitclaim deed from the city of Irvine to the county was recorded).
- Pay $250,000 security deposit.
- Accept 25-year term with two 10-year options to mutually renew the lease, making it a potential 45-year lease.
- Pay escalating annual minimum rent from $500,000 the first three years to $1.5 million every year for the last five years of the 25-year lease.
- Pay an annual percentage based on gross receipts to the county.
Source: Orange County Board of Supervisors staff report from July 31, 2012
I really do hope that they are able to secure funding and work out a new deal with the County. South OC is really missing a local water park. The location is perfect, the timing seems right, and I know there is a demand. Crossing my fingers here for a 2015 opening date.