A local convenience store magnate will unveil plans today to bring a $160 million water park, hotel and convention center project to Chesterfield County.
Steve Uphoff, founder of the Uppy’s convenience store chain and Uptown Alley bowling alleys, is partnering with a Chinese investment group to build the project on land he owns on Brad McNeer Parkway in Midlothian. The group also plans to build water parks in Phoenix and China, and five Uptown Alleys each in the United States and China.
The partnership will be signed this morning at an event held by the Chesterfield County Economic Development Department. More details and renderings will be released at the event. Uphoff estimated that the complete slate of projects both here, in Phoenix and overseas would cost between $3 billion and $4 billion.
“We’re very confident about the success of the project,” Uphoff said on Monday.
The indoor water park in Midlothian will be built on 26 acres next to Uptown Alley on Brad McNear Parkway. Uphoff said he’s owned the land through Uphoff Ventures since 2008 it already has the correct zoning. It will include an outdoor park with zip lines, mini-golf and climbing walls.
The planned hotel will have 400 rooms. The size of the convention center will be determined after completion of a market study to assess the area’s need, said Brent Graves, a principal with locally-based Taylor & Parrish Construction, the general contractor on the Midlothian project.
Construction could begin as early as next year, Uphoff said. He said he hopes to open the complex in 2016.
“It has been a long process getting to this point,” Uphoff said. “We analyzed the market and did a feasibility study.”
Uphoff said he’s been working on the partnership for 11 years. The investors, the Jinma Group from Quanzhou, China, are currently developing a 400-acre site in China for a water park and an Uptown Alley.
“We found out there is a great need for quality diversified entertainment in China,” Uphoff said.
He said Uptown Alley will remain a proprietary brand and each location will be operated by his company and his Chinese partners. Uphoff Ventures is family-owned and located in Chesterfield County. The company works in partnership with Trifecta Management Group which will operate the new entertainment venue, a press release said.
Uphoff opened the first local Uptown Alley, a massive $21 million bowling and entertainment complex in Chesterfield in 2012. His original Uptown Alley is in Phoenix.
Will Davis, Chesterfield County director of economic development, said his office first learned the full scope of the project on Tuesday and he is looking forward to learning more today.
“This is really unique,” Davis said of the plan.
Other recent attempts to bring water parks to the area haven’t fared well.
In 2013, Chesterfield County officials nixed another man’s plan for a 24-acre water sports development on Newby’s Bridge Road.
And a planned year-round surfing facility in Hanover County has never taken off.