The city of Bloomington may boost by $40 million a spending plan to draw development near the Mall of America as delays continue with a proposed water park, said assistant Bloomington Port Authority administrator Jason Schmidt.
The money could support separate projects, such as a sports complex or an event or entertainment facility, though none are currently proposed and would first have to pass city approvals, he said.
"This is just creating flexibility for the port authority," he said.
The City Council and Port Authority will hold a special meeting and public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday in City Council chambers to discuss the added funding; the city has until the end of the year to designate the funds under a temporary state provision that gives cities and port authorities more flexibility in how they spend tax-increment financing (TIF) dollars. The TIF financing is considered key for the waterpark, which has seen its estimated cost grow to some $430 million.
Bloomington City Manager Jamie Verbrugge said he expected an update on construction of the water park after Jan. 1.
He said the additional $40 million requested was largely due to an anticipated increase in construction costs.
The city already this year earmarked about $55 million of TIF funds for the waterpark, with the hope that construction could begin this year. Delays have pushed back the timeline into 2023, and Schmidt said the city hopes to have some kind of announcement in coming weeks.
"We are working with [Mall owner] Triple Five on a potential update on the waterpark in the first quarter of 2023," Schmidt said.
The 360,000-square-foot attraction, dubbed Mystery Cove Water Park, would feature waterslides, a 1,400-foot lazy river and a wave pool with an indoor beach front. A 1,600-stall parking ramp would be built on the site.
Hotel and future commercial expansion is also a possibility. An economic impact study commissioned in 2018 estimated the waterpark project would attract more than 900,000 visitors and generate $15 million in tax revenue each year.
The $40 million boost for other projects would draw down the remainder of the $95 million of TIF funds the city has on hand.
Since its opening 30 years ago, the Mall of America has been one of the biggest draws for visitors in Minnesota, attracting about 40 million people each year, mall officials say.