Anyone who’s complained Atlanta is a little too far from the beach should find solace in knowing PALs are bound for ATL—along with other hot places around the region, according to a newly formed development team.
In addition to exotic locales oversees, Miami-based company Crystal Lagoons has been building PALs—Public Access Lagoons, that is—from Florida to Texas, where the concepts have been “a real hit with the U.S. public,” per the company.
The paradise proprietors are now targeting the Atlanta region, one of the fastest-growing in the country, in a major way.
Crystal Lagoons has signed a regional exclusivity agreement with two Atlanta-based firms—intown developer Tenth Street Ventures and ESG real estate group’s EcoVest Capital—to build lagoons around Georgia and North Carolina, by way of a newly formed LLC called EcoWave 10.
Specifically, EcoWave 10 wants to install four to six of the sprawling, turquoise havens within 100 miles of Atlanta. That could include Athens and Chattanooga. Another is planned for Charlotte, in addition to other landlocked cities in the Tar Heel State with favorable climates but no coastline.
The team is scouring the Atlanta region for sites and expects to have its first deals inked soon. As large-scale entertainment concepts go, the lagoons sound, in a way, like the next Topgolf, only with more paddleboards, bikinis, and in some cases, jet skis.
“People in Georgia and North Carolina, faced with hot and humid summers, will now be able to enjoy tropical beach life just steps from their homes,” said Ivan Mazur, Crystal Lagoons’ senior vice president of sales, in an announcement this week. “It’s similar to how parks were born in England 200 years ago, bringing a piece of the forest to the city for people to enjoy nature."
Crystal Lagoons says the magic in the PAL concept is that these slices of the Caribbean can be built anywhere, at any size, and then maintained at low costs. Visitors pay variable entrance fees for access to the imported white sands and water sports. PALs are often built in conjunction with hotels, multifamily residences, shopping and restaurants, and other venues used to host concerts, weddings, and conferences.
It’s all relatively sustainable, too, per Crystal Lagoons. The oases are filled once with any type of water—fresh, brackish, or seawater. They use a closed-loop system that requires half as much water as urban greenspaces, and 100 times fewer chemicals than average public swimming pools, per the company.
Brian McCarthy, head of Tenth Street Ventures, calls the lagoons “one of the most intriguing concepts I’ve seen." The real estate management, investment, and construction firm has updated several properties around Atlanta into more current types of housing, and it’s also planning a 20-story mixed-use tower in Midtown that’s drawn the ire of some preservationists.
“[The lagoon concept] creates a water feature that’s truly sustainable, open to all, and builds a beachfront for further development,” McCarthy said in this week’s announcement. “We can't wait to bring the first Crystal Lagoons destinations to Atlanta, Chattanooga, Athens, and N.C."
Crystal Lagoons plans to expand across Texas, Florida, California, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi, where the company says 260 real estate projects of various types, including more PALs, are in the works.
Head up to the gallery for a look at variations on existing lagoon concepts. And share ideas in the comments on where in metro Atlanta one—or six—of these manmade tropical paradises would make the most sense, or the biggest splash.
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