The confusion over the Mall of America and Water Park of America is about to end.
Great Wolf Resorts Inc., one of the nation’s largest operators of water parks, is in the process of buying the water park and connected Radisson Hotel Bloomington and plans to rebrand the complex as a Great Wolf Lodge.
The 433,000-square-foot facility across the highway from the Mall of America will offer expanded retail and entertainment options, such as an area for a ropes course, rock wall and bowling alley, according to plans recently submitted to the city of Bloomington.
If approved by the city, the new hotel and water park is expected to finish renovations by next November.
“We’re excited to see Great Wolf come to Bloomington and make a major investment in this renovation,” Glen Markegard, Bloomington’s planning manager, said. “Their interest is a sign of continued strength in the Bloomington hotel market.”
The hotel and water park have been owned by an affiliate of Wheelock Street Capital, a Connecticut-based real estate investment firm. Wheelock did not return a call for comment Wednesday. California-based Evolution Hospitality, which manages the hotel, declined to comment.
The project is still in the design phase and some of the details are still being finalized, according to plans submitted on behalf of Great Wolf by architecture firm Gensler. The footprint of the eight-floor complex will remain mostly unchanged.
The 403-room hotel will gain only one room during the renovation. Some basement-level parking might be converted to meeting rooms and administration offices. A handful of guest rooms will be moved to make room for the expanded entertainment venues. The water park’s mezzanine will be enclosed to create a Great Wolf branded restaurant and entertainment space.
The individual room renovations are planned to entail changes to finishes and materials. The water park renovation will mostly be limited to repairs and refinishing. The water park’s hot tubs will be removed and a bar will be added.
For the exterior, the most notable change would be a covered entrance made to look like the wooden trusses of a lodge that is typical of Great Wolf’s other locations.
Besides the physical changes to the space, a large shift for the facility would be that Great Wolf doesn’t allow day passes to the water park; only hotel guests are allowed access to its attractions.
Great Wolf Resorts, which started in Wisconsin Dells, has locations across the United States. The Bloomington park would be its first in Minnesota. A representative for Great Wolf could not be reached Wednesday.
The Water Park of America opened in 2006. While its name is similar to the nearby Mall of America, the two operations aren’t affiliated. A spokesman for the mall did not return a request for comment on Wednesday.
The Wheelock affiliate purchased the property in 2010, for a little more than $49 million, though it’s currently valued at around $38 million, according to Hennepin County property records.
The Bloomington planning commission is expected to review the project at its Jan. 26 meeting and then the discussion would go before the City Council.