Hemisphere Teams With IMG To Create The World’s First Sports Resort And Community
Lakeview Bluffs, nestled on over 1,000 acres along Lake Erie, offers some of the most breathtaking views and outstanding recreational opportunities in Ohio. In its most ambitious redevelopment to date, Hemisphere is transforming this former industrial manufacturing site into the nation’s first Sports-Oriented Resort Community and launching a new real estate development business.
Overcoming Obstacles to Redevelopment
Formerly the location of the sprawling Diamond Shamrock Painesville Works, the land has been the site of various activities over the years, including a 500-acre settling pond, a chromium production facility and a landfill. Beginning in 1912, Diamond Shamrock initiated production activities at the site. At its peak, the site employed approximately 3,200 people, producing products such as soda ash, baking soda, coke and other chemicals. In 1976, Diamond Shamrock abruptly shuttered the facility and terminated all employees. The three impacted communities have struggled since then to recover.
The site is so large, it spans three separate municipalities, which historically battled over development issues in the region. In 1980, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiated action to remedy chromium contamination at the site, resulting in the construction of a 120-acre clay cap over the impacted area. The Ohio EPA began enforcement activities for the rest of the site in 1989. Parties to the action had been embroiled in litigation ever since. Hemisphere’s development plan was the catalyst to settling both this costly and complex multi-party CERCLA case, as well as a long-standing regulatory enforcement action, in an extraordinarily expedited fashion. Through Hemisphere’s redevelopment, dramatic progress toward comprehensively resolving historical environmental issues has been achieved.
In a public-private partnership with all relevant municipalities, the Ohio EPA, Lake Metroparks and numerous other public stakeholders, Hemisphere created a plan to re-invent this area. A key component of Hemisphere's strategy is to transform negative public perception focusing on the site's industrial past toward a more favorable focus on the land's unparalleled natural attributes and a groundbreaking real estate development concept.
A Revolutionary Vision
A mere 28 miles east of its headquarters in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, Hemisphere will convert this vast, beautiful, yet underutilized property, into the nation’s first Sports-Oriented Resort Community. Hemisphere has entered into an exclusive license and consulting agreement with IMG pursuant to which Hemisphere will develop the IMG Resort Academies at Lakeview Bluffs. Lakeview Bluffs, featuring the IMG Resort Academies, will provide up to 2,200 residential units and will appeal to consumers by delivering:
- A fun, active, family-oriented environment
- Training for the recreational sports enthusiast, as well as for the committed athlete
- An intriguing corporate meeting venue
The project also will provide:
- World-class instruction in offered endeavors, including a culinary academy, a unique vineyard and winery, an art institute and other non-athletic recreational activities
- Exceptional service
- Outstanding sports, recreation and spa facilities
- A sophisticated, yet casual setting
- A continued stream of “special” events planned and staged by IMG (16 per year) drawing visitors to the Resort community
Unparalleled Development Strategy
The project is one of the largest and most innovative redevelopments in the United States. The development has been master planned by Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (WATG) headquartered in Newport Beach, California, the world’s leading design consultant for the hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries. WATG’s representative projects include The Venetian Hotel (Las Vegas, NV), Atlantis Resort & Casino (Nassau, Bahamas) and design work worldwide for the Ritz Carlton, the Four Seasons Resort and other international hotel brands.
The Resort will offer a broad range of active recreation and leisure activities, taking advantage of the site’s phenomenal natural attributes, including over a mile of lakefront and over two miles of scenic river corridor. All waterfront master planning was conducted by JJR, a nationally recognized waterfront design firm. The development will serve not only as a regional visitor destination, but also as an ideal location for a weekend retreat, second home or permanent residence.
IMG Resort Academies at Lakeview Bluffs
The Resort’s principal feature is the IMG Resort Academies, which will deliver world-class training in all major sports, including golf, tennis, soccer, baseball and basketball. This facility also will integrate comprehensive health and wellness programming designed by leading medical experts. Our complex will emulate the IMG Academies located in Bradenton, Florida, the world’s most successful multi-sport training institute for elite athletes. Hemisphere will implement a comprehensive lakefront redevelopment plan as part of the project.
To capitalize on the site’s natural attributes and high-energy atmosphere, other major development components will include:
- An IMG Signature Golf Course, featuring holes perched on bluffs 40 feet above Lake Erie and the Grand River’s scenic corridor.
- A World-Class Spa, offering health and wellness treatments and instruction.
- A Boutique Resort Hotel, the Resort’s architectural centerpiece, and retail village, cascading down the bluff to a lakefront park and beach club.
- A Trout Club designed by nationally recognized fly fishing experts, including stream features created for instructional scenarios, located near a scenic stretch of the Grand River, long coveted by local fishermen as one of the best locations to catch steelhead trout in the United States.
- A Vineyard and Winery, designed in concert with The Ohio State University’s School of Agriculture, and including Vineyard Estates, allowing both visitors and residents to toil in the fields and cultivate the fruits of their own labor.
All of these development features will be connected through over 15 miles of interpretive trails and pathways, encouraging walking, jogging and biking through the community.
To date, Hemisphere and its redevelopment partners have made tremendous progress, achieving the following development milestones:
- Constructed to rough grade significant portions of the IMG Signature Golf Course. Secured zoning entitlements for the development plan from Painesville Township (covering approximately 550 acres of the site, including most of the major development components).
- Pursued zoning entitlements from the City of Painesville (representing the balance of the site).
- Worked with all relevant regulators to finalize remedial plans and to definitively resolve historical environmental issues at the site.
- Completed market studies on the major components of the development.
- Installed significant improvements for the approximately 1.2 miles of contiguous shoreline and along the scenic Grand River corridor.
- Shoreline improvements included the installation of approximately 60,000 tons of armour stone along Lake Erie, making the project the largest recent erosion control improvement project along the Great Lakes.
- Grand River improvements included the creation of a 1-mile riverfront trail and revegetating the scenic river corridor, in consultation with biologists and environmental experts, with over 11,000 stakes from native species to revitalize and enhance wildlife habitat along the Grand River.
- Constructed a major bridge spanning the Grand River and connecting both sides of the site.
- Commenced architectural design of major project elements, including the golf clubhouse and the IMG Resort Academies facilities.
Based on the creativity employed to revitalize this major brownfield site, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design performed a case study of the Lakeview Bluffs project, calling the project “one of the most visionary and innovative redevelopment projects in the United States.” The full text of this study is available in PDF format.
A National Model for Brownfield Redevelopment
Lakeview Bluffs represents an unprecedented opportunity to resolve years of contentious litigation and reclaim one of Ohio's most promising brownfield sites. Ultimately, the project will be one of the largest and most comprehensive brownfield redevelopments in the United States, serving as a national model for creative redevelopment planning and design.