After nearly 60 years in business, Varina’s only waterpark is up for grabs.
Hadad’s Lake and its surrounding acreage at 7900 Osborne Turnpike have been listed for sale for $975,000.
About 6 acres of the offering are occupied by Hadad’s Lake, a waterpark whose attractions include a natural-bottom swimming pool, fishing pond, volleyball courts, gazebos, water slides, a rope swing, multiple pavilions and more.
The remaining 30 acres listed include a house, driveway and parking area, but are largely wooded and undeveloped. The parcels are being marketed for sale together or separately.
Hadad’s Lake is owned and run by the fourth generation of Hadads, sister and brother Dorian and Ronald Jr.
Their grandfather Edward and father Ronald Sr. bought the land in 1965 from the Eaves’ family, which had similarly operated a swimming hole there. It was initially called Hadad’s Palisades and included a banquet hall and a club area.
“My dad was interested in hosting after-parties for shows that were at the Richmond Coliseum and my granddad was interested in the swimming area,” Dorian said of the park’s origins.
She recalled old teenage memories of driving around the park with her father in a golf cart as he laid out his ever-changing vision for the property.
“He had all these grand plans, going back to erecting that rope-swing back in 2000. I was like, ‘What are you doing?’” Hadad said, laughing. “As a teenager, you don’t have much appreciation for all the work that goes into it and whatnot. But my dad had a dream.”
Dorian and Ronald Jr. have been running the business since Ronald Sr. passed away in 2017.
Hadad’s Lake has hosted an eclectic run of events over the years, ranging from the Best Friends Day music festival that ran annually from 2001 to 2011, to a Viking funeral for Oderus Urungus, the onstage persona of GWAR frontman Dave Brockie, who passed away in 2014.
Hadad acknowledged how the park has evolved over the years and said she’s tried to keep it a family-friendly venue, something her dad also emphasized.
“There really isn’t much like it,” she said. “It’s funny because even though we’ve been there for a lot of years, a lot of people don’t know we exist. That’s mainly because advertising is super expensive and word of mouth is usually the best advertisement.”
Hadad said she doesn’t necessarily want to sell the park and the property, but that she can’t make the numbers work for the vision she has for it. Admission to Hadad’s Lake in recent years has been $15, and being a waterpark, Hadad said she has to pay a premium on insurance that’s similar to that of major theme parks like Kings Dominion.
“We’ve really tried to keep the costs down. Unfortunately, small business is expensive,” Hadad said.
“I enjoy it, but financially, I want things to be better and I want things to be improved. I’ve met the ends of all the resources that are available to me,” she said.
Outside of finding a buyer who would keep the water park going, S.L. Nusbaum’s Thomas Langston, who’s marketing the property for the Hadads with colleague Nathan Shor, said he thinks the property would be a great site for a summer camp or nonprofit group.
Hadad said if one of her roughly dozen local relatives don’t want to take it on, she’s hoping to find a buyer who’ll keep the spirit of the park going.
“I’d like to see people utilize it for what it has – make it a venue for the public or the community,” she said. “The worst thing would be to turn it into a storage unit sector or a housing development.”
Even with the park on the market, Hadad’s Lake is gearing up for the summer 2023 season with a June 6 opening planned. Hadad said she hopes the “for sale” sign on the property might catch the eyes of patrons as well as prospective buyers.
“It’s not an easy decision, for sure. But sometimes you got to make changes,” she said. “Maybe with us being up for sale, the patronage will increase and maybe that’d help put a spin on things.”