Wild Rivers water park in Irvine, CA will be replaced with 1,700 apartments

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Wild Rivers Waterpark is coming to the end of its 25-year run. The Irvine amusement park, which opened over the weekend for its 2011 season, will have to close for good Oct. 2 because its lease has not been extended. The Irvine Co., which owns the land, intends to build 1,700 apartment homes on the property.

Read more from The Orange County Register.

When I first read the headline my immediate thought was that they should think about relocating to the Great Park...and it looks like that is a possibility

As to homes being filled while the amphitheatre is still in operation...I'm glad I won't be buying there. I remember as a kid living in Laguna Hills and is the wind was blowing the right way we could hear the concerts taking place.

I think there is room for a water park in southern Orange County so I am hopeful they can find a new location. I never got to enjoy Wild Rivers. It was opened after I left Southern California.

you can start the countdown for VW Amphitheater now also.

It's been obvious that WR wasn't going to get that lease renewed. The only reason that they lasted this long was that no one was financing new construction for housing (either single family or multi family). What really sucks is that these 1,700 new apartments are in addition to the Villages complex across the 405. I'm not sure where that many new OC Residents are coming from, and where the jobs are to support that kind of in-flow. I know that it will really hurt the traffic in that area. UGH

This is tought to figure out. That parks sits in the middle of their exact market, couples, families, etc. Its right of I-5, and compliments the Spectrum complex. They are still undecided on what to do with the old El Toro Marine Air Base Complex right down the road. Having the waterpark is a great asset to part time jobs in the area.

Jeff's avatar

Who cares? The only thing this is about is what the land owners feel they can do to get the most money out of it, not provide jobs. The city's Web site says the median rent is $1,760. Assuming full occupancy and ignoring expenses or up front capital for a moment, that's almost $36 million a year. Do you think the water park is paying that in rent?

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

LostKause's avatar

Wow. I need to get into real estate.

Soggy's avatar

The Irvine Company already has more money than God... and the recession didn't hurt them one bit. They already own/manage/profit from enough apartment complexes to house a small nation. I realize that making more profit is always what they are looking for, but it just seems like a waste of a perfectly good family attraction. Oh well, more business for Knott's Soak City, I suppose.

And that line in the article about the noise from the VW Amphatheatre is BS. As soon as residents move in, they will cite noise complaints about the concerts, putting another nail in the that venue's coffin, eben though that place was there first.

RIP, Fraiser.

Pass da' sizzrup, bro!

birdhombre's avatar

^ At which point they can tear down the amphitheater and build more condos. ;)

Jeff said:
Who cares? The only thing this is about is what the land owners feel they can do to get the most money out of it, not provide jobs. The city's Web site says the median rent is $1,760. Assuming full occupancy and ignoring expenses or up front capital for a moment, that's almost $36 million a year. Do you think the water park is paying that in rent?

Not sure who you were referring to Jeff, me or Agent Johnson, but please don't think that I was suggesting that owners of the waterpark had some obligation in providing jobs vs. landowner's ability to maximize profits on their investments. No one appreciates free enterprise like I do. A seasonal waterpark doesn't bring in that many part time jobs, as opposed to the economic impact of a huge apartment complex (property taxes, tax on rental income, construction, etc), and it certainly is the landowner's right to do with as they please.

I was simply pointing out that there is already a huge development going in across the 405, and that given the current economy in Orange County (and distressed businesses are my living), I just didn't know where the "new" residents for this and the other development were coming from, and/or where these new residents were going to work. (I know that apartments are a somewhat zero-sum game, but still, you need stable tenants or the ability to steal tenants from other properties to maintain full occupancy (but that's really not the ideal, you'd rather have a continuous inflow of people, thus a rising tide lifts all boats)

Orange County is still hurting economically. Obviously the developers feel that now is the time to invest capital into converting that space to apartments, rather than letting it sit (and draw lease rent) for 2012, etc.; so they must feel positive about their ability to command sufficient rental income to cover their cost of capital and profit margin. A waterpark would never throw off enough cash for a landlord compared to the apartment complex, but there's also some risk in the OC market with the number of condo developments that never sold and were converted to rentals. Obviously the Irvine company must think that the time is right to invest again.

Sad to see the waterpark go, but it had a good run. I still say that the amphitheater is next to go, they have a limited season anyway (probably less than most outdoor sheds), and that land is worth infinitely more used otherwise, and the conflict of apartment residents and concertgoers will hasten its demise.

Jeff's avatar

The comment was not directed toward your post.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

The high land values in Southern California and short operating season of a waterpark do not mix well. Despite what many outsiders think Orange County is a lousy location for a waterpark because it is TOO COLD.

Last summer for example. Oh I meant to say what summer? August and September have the warmest weather, but it's very inconsistent. May and June are too cold and July is a mixed bag.

I don't think Knott's Soak City ever met Cedar Fair's performance expectations. If they knew what they know now I'm not sure they would build the waterpark today.

Jeff's avatar

I thought you were moving to Texas? :) I also thought it was plenty warm when you get away from the coast. The months you describe sound any Midwest city, where there are water parks. But relative to the land value, yeah, I see your point. Cedar Fair can't even sell Geauga Lake.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Growing up going to the summer camp next door to the place during the (duh) summers and riding the slides daily, this saddens me. Last summer I went there for the first time in years with a bunch of friends right before we all went off to college. Looks like we'll have to do a farewell trip.

I (before college, which fortunately I finish for the year in less than a week) have lived in Tustin most my life. If Irvine is mainstream pop, Tustin is classic rock: older, smaller, truer, but ultimately not as profitable (I don't think cities can do legacy tours). While the "Irvine sucks, they're surbansprawling the land" mentality I had in middle school as I watched countless acres of orange groves disappear has been tempered a bit, and I understand it's one of the safest and highest achieving cities in the country (yeah, it's got a lot of Asians. That's a whole other discussion), I still feel it's boring and sterile as heck. I live near the border, so I should know. To somehow tie this back to coasterbuzz, yeah, to think this is exactly what could have happened to Magic Mountain. Shutter

/end rant

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