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Kalahari Resorts to break ground Oct. 1 in Pocono Mountains

| Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The resort some are heralding as an economic game-changer for the Pocono economy will break ground on Oct. 1.

Gov. Tom Corbett and Kalahari Resorts owner, founder and CEO Todd Nelson will be in attendance for the ceremony. The first phase of the project is slated to open its doors in 2015.

Kalahari's first phase will occupy 150 acres and include 457 guest rooms and suites in addition to a 100,000-square-foot indoor water park and seasonal outdoor water park and a 65,000-square-foot convention center.

The initial phase of the project will include a 30,000-square-foot family entertainment center, 6,000 square feet of retail space and three full-service restaurants.

Kalahari Resorts feature African-themed decor including art, furniture and handicrafts from African artisans, according to the company website.

The groundbreaking was initially set for April, then pushed to July. An earlier plan to open in late 2014 was pushed back to 2015, although officials did not specify on Friday when in 2015 the resort will likely open its doors.

The resort will be on the Pocono Manor property. The Monroe County location will be the company's first on the East Coast.

“We are very excited to begin the construction process of Kalahari Resorts Pocono Mountains and are looking forward to continuing the development of the project in the coming months,” Nelson said by email Friday.

Tobyhanna Township supervisors approved a conditional land development plan and tax increment financing district for the project earlier this year. The TIF district will divert property taxes on the project's first phase to repaying a $26 million, 20-year bond for nearby infrastructure improvements.

Township Manager Phyllis Haase said all that remains is finalizing documents for the project.

“They're moving quickly,” she said. “Everyone realizes how important this project is to the state in general with the increased employment, the tourism.”

Haase said the convention center will especially be a key addition to the Poconos and a boon to area businesses with the increase of travelers.

The indoor and outdoor water parks will be open to all, not just resort guests, which benefits other local hotels.

Nelson said he is pleased with how the process has evolved.

“We look forward to bringing our truly unique, authentically African experience to the East Coast in 2015,” he said.

Nelson said the company chose the Poconos because of its status as a tourist destination for families and young adults.

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