Great Wolf Resorts Inc. has finalized a deal to buy KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort in Gurnee, with plans to renovate the property for about a year before debuting it under the new brand.
KeyLime concluded its nine-year run when its last guests checked out Wednesday. It'll be converted into Great Wolf Lodge Illinois.
"We have extensive expansion and renovation plans for the property as we transform the existing water park into Great Wolf Lodge Illinois," said Jason Lasecki, a spokesman for the Madison, Wisconsin-based company. "The renovations will begin almost immediately."
Lasecki said it's anticipated Gurnee's Great Wolf will open in mid-2018. They'll begin taking reservations three to four months before opening on the former KeyLime Cove site, northwest of Grand Avenue and Dilleys Road near the Tri-State Tollway.
Great Wolf plans to invest at least $65 million in new constriction and renovation at the facility, according to documents that are part of a revenue-sharing agreement with Gurnee. Including the KeyLime Cove purchase, Great Wolf expects to spend at least $100 million on the project.
Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said she's "excited" the Great Wolf deal for KeyLime Cove finally closed earlier this week. She and Lake County tourism officials expect Great Wolf to be a bigger Gurnee-area attraction than KeyLime Cove.
The renovations include converting the resort from KeyLime Cove's tropical theme to Great Wolf's signature Northwoods look. Plans also call for a roughly 20,000-square-foot expansion of the indoor water park, along with an outdoor water park, family-themed suites, more shopping and "some new surprises," Lasecki said.
Great Wolf is not expected to add to the 414 hotel rooms built for KeyLime Cove.
Lasecki said Great Wolf is placing the final touches on design elements and guest experience plans for the Gurnee property.
KeyLime Cove acknowledged the closure in a statement. Guests who have stays booked are supposed to receive notification their reservations are canceled. Deposit refunds are being processed and may take up to 30 days to be issued, according to KeyLime Cove.
Gurnee has $18 million left of $22 million that was designated for KeyLime Cove in a revenue-sharing agreement that was to expire in 2028. In February, the village board extended the deal to 2029 for Great Wolf to account for the one year it won't be open due to the construction.
Great Wolf has North America's largest water park-hotel portfolio with 14 properties. The company has been in a growth mode, with new resorts planned in the Atlanta area, near Yosemite National Park in California and in Bloomington, Minnesota, near the Mall of America.