BAINBRIDGE TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Excavators keep busy behind an aging, vandalized fence along Aurora Road in Bainbridge Township.
It's all part of the development underway at the site of the old Geauga Lake and SeaWorld/Wildwater Kingdom property.
Geauga Lake closed for good back in 2007, with Wildwater Kingdom closing in 2016. Since then, the property has mostly been an eyesore for the community and a popular spot for vandalism and trespassing.
Industrial Commercial Properties, a Solon-based real estate developer, bought a significant portion of the property in 2020 and unveiled plans for the 377 acres to be known as the Geauga Lake District.
Austin Semarjian serves as Vice President of leasing and acquisitions at ICP.
"I want to make sure people know the Geauga Lake nostalgia, we're going to try to build toward that," he said. "It's not going to be roller coasters but you're going to see bits and pieces of history throughout this development."
ICP allowed News 5 to tour the property and capture drone video of the site, where we observed excavators working to clear the land, and remnants of the park's entrance still in place.
"Right now, you’re going to see a lot of excavation and demo work of former sidewalks and footers for the roller coasters," Semarjian added.
Most of the parks' recognizable property is located in Bainbridge Township, while much of the undeveloped wooded area as well as the SeaWorld entrance and parking is located in Aurora.
In 2020, the two communities reached an agreement where Aurora would provide water and sewer services to the entire development as part of a Joint Economic Development District.
That will allow for the development of various types of housing and business throughout the community, Semarjian said.
Property records show Columbus-based Vision Development bought nearly 20 acres from ICP in December. Semarjian said that company will begin construction on an apartment complex once land clearing is complete.
In a release provided to News 5, Vision Development said plans call for 331 apartments in 14 buildings, marking the first complex devoted to apartments in Bainbridge Township.
The apartments are set to range from studios at 325 square feet to three-bedroom apartments close to 2,000 square feet.
Bainbridge Township leaders told News 5 that proposed renderings by Vision Development and the site plan still need to be finalized.
Beyond apartments, Semarjian said the area will eventually offer homes around the spring-fed lake, as well as a walking trail.
Retail Stores Expected to Come
Another carved out piece of the park is owned by home improvement retail giant Menards. Local leaders confirmed to News 5 that the company has plans to put a retail store on its property.
However, when asked about their potential growth in the area, a spokesperson with Menards told News 5, “we have nothing to report at this time.”
Minutes from a February 2022 Bainbridge Township Board of Trustees meeting also mention that land is currently being cleared on the land currently owned by Industrial Commercial Properties for Meijer.
Semarjian would not comment specifically on Meijer, only saying plans are in place with a big box retailer, while Meijer also did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the matter.
Pulte Homes Construction Continues on SeaWorld side
The most noticeable progress on the property so far are the Pulte homes being built on what was once the parking lot for SeaWorld/Wildwater Kingdom and neighboring wooded area.
According to a release from Pulte, the neighborhood will include 308 townhomes and single-family homes. That breaks down to 119 townhomes, 64 two-story single-family homes, and 125 ranch-style homes spread across 246 acres.
Additionally, half of the land will remain undeveloped, with a focus on walking trails, parks and woodlands.
Street signs in the neighborhood highlight part of the homage to the parks, with street names including River Run Road and Dipper Lane.
To view a current Pulte site plan availability map, click here.
Revisiting Geauga Lake
Watch aerial footage of SeaWorld and Wildwater Kingdom from 1980 below:
While little is left at the site of the old parks, there is a way to revisit the old amusement parks. The Aurora Historical Society currently is showcasing Geauga Lake Park memorabilia as part of an ongoing exhibit. The organization recently hosted a membership event, looking back at the early days of the park.
"It’s been a part of the community throughout that entire 100-plus years," John Kudley, President of the Aurora Historical Society, said. "It’s sad to see what’s become of the property but it’s also exciting to see the redevelopment of what’s happening. So you have mixed feelings."