New plans to move MOA waterpark project forward to get special meeting

After years of stalled plans, changes to plans for a large waterpark at Mall of America could get the project back on track.

The Bloomington City Council and Port Authority are scheduled to discuss the project during a special meeting on Thursday.

While the mall’s owner, Triple 5, has long sought to add a waterpark to the shopping attraction, city officials started work on the project back in 2018. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and financial hurdles have held it back.

Now, officials will consider some changes to the proposed project to see if it can again move forward.

Under the latest proposal, the waterpark would be 143,000 square feet, about one-third of the size it was in the last plan. It also features a clear, retractable roof, 30 slides and rides, various pools and spas and other amenities that officials say could accommodate up to 3,000 people at a time.

There’s also extra incentive for officials to make this plan work to take advantage of 2021 tax increment financing flexibility that requires funds to be spent by the end of 2025.

Hospitality is the largest industry in Bloomington, bringing in more than 20% of the city’s revenues, another reason the city supports the project.

“Continuing to keep the Mall of America destination fresh, and developing attractions and experiences that bring new audiences, is essential to the financial health of the mall. They are a significant contributor to Bloomington’s tax base,” the agenda for Thursday’s meeting states.

No formal action is expected on Thursday, as the meeting is simply to share updated information and discuss the latest plans and various financial proposals for the project. However, if all goes well, the project could once again start moving forward.