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Silver Lake Waterpark to turn into townhomes

Posted March 19, 2010
Updated March 20, 2010

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— For more than 50 years, Silver Lake Waterpark was a Raleigh summer tradition, with a five-story waterslide so large it stood out in satellite photos.

Soon, however, the wave pool, diving platform and giant, plastic swans off Tryon Road will be replaced by a townhouse development.

Owner John Gensinger said he closed the waterpark this past fall and sold it for about $3 million because the school system's ever-shrinking summer was hurting his business.

"Years ago, we used to operate from Memorial Day in late May all the way to Labor Day," he said. "We used to have 12 to 13 weeks. It was cut down to about nine weeks, and that’s a pretty big impact on a business that’s only open 12 to 13 weeks out of the year."

Developer M/I Homes promised to keep Silver Lake and its white-sand beach.

Silver Lake Waterpark to become townhomes

"He passed the baton to us, and this site will be reborn into a new chapter of its life," said Jeremy Dowd Medlin, vice president of land development for M/I Homes.

“Every year offers came in, but M/I Homes had the best plans," Gensinger said.

An elevated pool will overlook the lake, and a boat house, fishing dock and two paddle boats will stay. The landmark plastic swans will go, but two live swans will stay. Some homes' basements will directly overlook the lake, which will be encircled by walking trails.

There will also still be a spot for Gensinger. M/I Homes built a home for him overlooking a new 35-foot lighted fountain on the beach.

Swimming in the lake, however, won't be allowed anymore. Safety and water-quality concerns were too high, Medlin said.

"This is like a little jewel," he said. "This is a very unique opportunity, and a lot of thought and a lot of consideration went into what we were going to do with the lake and what we were going to preserve."

The first phase of construction is set to begin in June, and Medlin said he hopes to have 20 to 30 families moved in by the end of the year. The 1,500- to 2,000-square-foot townhouses will begin at $190,000.

Silver Lake manager Kelcey Pittman said she mourns the end of the waterpark where she had worked since she was 14.

"It's hard to see it go," she said. "Everyone has said it was part of their childhood. It was a Raleigh landmark, really."

"Whether they worked here or whether they were customers, they feel this took away part of their childhood," Gensinger said. "But they have the memories."

18 Comments

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  • MileageDontTakeYourKidsCrap Mar 19, 2010

    at least its not going to be another wal mart

  • ckblackm Mar 19, 2010

    Oh goodie.. more townhomes... just what we need.

  • itsmyownopinion Mar 19, 2010

    I don't know how many more similar developments they can put in that area before those of us who already have rental townhouses and condos in that area go bankrupt.

  • larky74406 Mar 19, 2010

    That place was nasty, no way I'd let my kids swim in that water.

  • tgcmisc Mar 19, 2010

    I am NOT a life long Raleigh resident, however, I did attend and graduate from NCSU and have been moving closer every job change...I moved here in 1991. My late neighbor was the son of Mr. Silver, the Wake County Clerk of Court (I believe) who built the park. His son sold it many years ago.

    Unfortunately, he passed away last year....so there is no connection.

    The original Silver's ( I met his dad and him) were great people. They took pride in the park. They considered it a part of Wake County's history.

    It is unfortunate that it is going to close...sort of like closing down a CharGrill.

    Silver Lake, whatever it is called or will become, will still be a reminder of Ben and his dad.

  • ilike9 Mar 19, 2010

    WOW...I spent many a day at silver lake and have a TON of memories from there! It's been about 15 years since I have been there, but the summer before senior year we were there all the time. So long Silver Lake!!! Thanks for the memories! :)

  • iamyeary Mar 19, 2010

    castallings....your comment made me ROFL. Never heard of this place, but it sounds like you know whaz up there...LOL.

  • peaceout Mar 19, 2010

    so sad...being old school Cary I went to school with the Silver's and love the place. What a rare opportunity lost to clueless people who think we need more townhouses ANYWHERE in Wake Co.

  • chimmychanga Mar 19, 2010

    i'm glad silver lake shut down. it had become a health hazard. most of the lifeguard didn't have certifications and were lazy high school students. the bathrooms were absolutely disgusting. it was overrun with hispanic parents and kids they couldn't control. yeah the slide was tons of fun. yeah the water toys were tons of fun...but most were broken in some form or fashion. the bumper boats hardly ever worked. everything there was WAY overpriced and the owner was just a fat lazy man who only cared about money.

  • mulecitybabe Mar 19, 2010

    Thanks, yanks. Now that you've pretty much ruined NC, can you find somewhere else to go? Maybe it's not too late to clean up after you people and make things like they were.

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