Local News

Silver Lake Waterpark to turn into townhomes

Posted March 19, 2010 2:42 p.m. EDT
Updated March 20, 2010 7:52 a.m. EDT

— 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.

"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."