2/6/15 – Flowing Underground

Dateline: February 6, 2015

Under the Surface, Building Momentum at Zillah Lakes

ZL Masterplan 012015

A concept drawing of a new master plan the new ownership is working on for Zillah Lakes. Click to see larger image.

Like a reading from the I Ching, we’ve picked an image of Flowing Underground to represent this months newsletter — ironic because of the underground river that flows to the Yakima River through Zillah Lakes 8 to 10 feet below the surface. This has great benefits (our lakes, our always green meadows, our irrigation sources) and sometimes problems (a major water-in-the-crawl-space problem for one resident this year [now solved], as well as occasional flooding of the golf course)

But in this case, the image refers to the amazing changes that are brewing and bubbling under the surface for Zillah Lakes in 2015.   This year, instead of “hunkering down” and waiting out the winter,  elements of momentum-creating change that we have worked on for years have started to click together. The prospect has all of us here at Zillah Lakes looking forward the year to come.  By the end of 2015, a number of new facilities, services and opportunities will be in place at Zillah Lakes!  You’ll hardly recognize the place. So here are…

Rimrock Front7 Big Reasons to Invest at Zillah Lakes This Year

  1. The Real Estate Market is back!  New Federal loan guarantees make home purchase accessible to many buyers for the first time in years!
  2. Professioally-managed vacation getaway program allows homeowners a place in the best location in Eastern Washington Wine Country, and an option for renting your home the days you aren’t using it.
  3. CN Wine CountryConde Nast and many other tourist publications are finally putting Yakima Wine Country on the map as a destination vacation location. 
  4. Only four Single Family Lots and four duplex/triplex lots available now, reservations being taken of SF Lots in Phase IB
  5. 3D Renderings of prepossessed Wine Country Inn and Bistro on Town Center PlazaThe Revolution in Zillah Lakes’ Town Center (see below) will supercharge the Zillah Lakes Community as a vibrant and lively mixed-use community!
  6. ZZGraphics- Photo examples boulevardA new Boulevard (Vintage Valley Boulevard) and extension of utilities will bring exciting new shops and stops and make Exit 50 the newest most dedicated Wine-Themed Freeway Exit ever! The boulevarding is now taking shape as a general strategy for all the roads around Exit 50 off of I-82, including Highway 22 as well as a bold concept plan to make Exit 50 a destination exit.
  7. New Ownership at Zillah Lakes has financial capacity and commitment to the long term future of the project

Revolution in the Town Center!

At the outset of Zillah Lakes, the town center was envisioned as a hub of community activity with several community-oriented businesses, a sheriff’s office, and live-work residential units opening onto the parking oval. It was a fantastic concept in 2006, and led to Zillah Lakes getting the Sheriff to relocated here. But economic events intervened and the town center has pretty much lain fallow as a great concept without implementation. Sheriff's OfficeNow, after years as a lesson in humility and delayed gratification, this year’s sudden emergence of the Town Center as vibrant and active element of our community may come as a surprise to some, though the Zillah Lakes Sales Team has been working to implement the original vision for the last several years.  The changes that are emerging now, and that will continue through the rest of an eventful year, are the result of those years of work, now coming to fruition. The delay has been frustrating, but a benefit for the community: each business in the town center now has to perform on its own as an essential business proposition, which will make the economic stability of the Town Center much more a central feature. The following are key events in this year’s schedule that will completely re-define our Town Center and to some extent the entire concept of our Zillah Lakes Wine Country Community.

Zillah Lakes Event Center: Nearing Completion

Under construction right now on our town center across from the Sheriff’s office is a new, 4500 sq. ft. Event Center at Zillah Lakes.  The project is a dream of Jose Aguilar and has moved from dream to near-reality.  Aguilar plans for events, weddings and conferences for up to 300 people. The Center may also be used for community events and meetings. The Center will feature up-to-date tech specs, a gorgeous stained-cement floor, a humungous HD Television for presentations, videos, etc, and a gorgeous outdoor lakeside wedding venue. We are so excited to see it take shape! Right now Aguilar anticipates opening the facility in May but is waiting to announce a specific grand-opening date. Our newsletters are occasional, but ‘follow’ us on our Tumblr blog to get the always-current news about the Event Center and other happenings at Zillah Lakes…

Wine Country Inn Boutique Hotel (Bistro to Follow?)

ZZGraphics- Wine Country Inn 3D

A 3D rendering of the Wine Country Inn, as currently configured. The plan was created by Ron Pelsen of Traditional Home Designs, who also designed the Event Center.  Plans will go through Design Review in February.

As important as the Event Center is, an even more seminal happening is the Wine Country Inn at Zillah Lakes: a 7 room boutique hotel in our Town Center that will feature lakeside short stay residency and vacations, with unique room configurations to allow them to be filled throughout the year.  Mastermind of the project is Doug Lakman, long a fixture at Zillah Lakes as Golf Course manager, sales contact, and general jack of all trades. The Inn will be managed by the Zillah Lakes Wine Getaway provider, Vortex Managers and rooms will feature outdoor patios and decks with electric fireplaces, mini-kitchens in most rooms, and adjustable room configurations for longer stays. Artist Conception of The Bistro at Zillah LakesMr. Lakman is already the proud possessor of dozens of pre-commitments for days of stays from local wineries and businesses.  His business plan was a finalist for this year’s New Vision Entrepreneur of 2015 Award. Also great news is that Doug continues to work on opening a 2000 sq ft Bistro — a separate facility placed right next to the Inn on East end of the Town Center peninsula.  Designs are already drawn, and potential operators are being screened at this time.  The Bistro would have immediate built-in business as caterer to the Event Center and customers of the Wine Country Inn.

A Town Center Mini-Park

ZZGraphics- Mini-Park Concept

Artist’s Conception of Ultimate configuration of Mini-Park, swimming hole, and beach at Zillah Lakes. Phase I Construction complete by May 31.

In one of the more exciting recent developments, it appears that this year will see the substantial completion of the first Phase of our long-dreamt Mini-Park.  Located just south of the parking plaza at the Town Center, Phase I amenities will include:

  • A wide solar lighted footbridge bridge crossing a tumbling stream from the upper lake (renamed to Crescent Beach Lake) to the main lake


    A “Swimming Hole” and a white sand beach for residents at Zillah Lakes is on the horizon…

  • Lake and stream-side landscaped terraces for dining, fishing, coffee as well as  portage to Crescent Beach Lake.
  • Crescent Beach: A crescent shaped, gradually sloped white-sand beach for sunbathing, wading & swimming
  • A ‘swimming hole’ and (perhaps) tire swing and diving area in a cleaned up & re-excavated Lake
  • A shuffleboard court and rudimentary dressing area
  • A “grassy knoll” picnic area with a view of lakes, town center, amphitheater happenings, etc.
  • Amphitheater/sports court for recreation and onsite outdoor performances
  • Multiple walking paths that connect to the main 3 mille nature/walking trail

Amenities are not planned to be open to the public, but to be for the use of all Zillah Lakes residents as well as hotel, event center and vacation guests.  However, the City of Zillah has expressed some interest in concerts at the Amphitheater that might be open to the public.

Plans for a later phase of development include a elevated green for hole 6 of the golf course and a fairway path for the same hole, two hard surface tennis courts, a lakeside hot-tub/jacuzzi, a complete restroom/dressing room facility; luxury condos in a wide crescent around Crescent Beach Lake. as well any other amenities that seem appropriate to the site.

In addition to these projects, the following are also on the horizon for 2015.  A complete dredging of the upper lake to remove tree and weed growth as well as cleanup algae and pond water to swimmable quality.  A landscaped outdoor lakeside wedding venue associated with the Event Center. Strong interest has re-emerged to open an 2000 sq ft Urgent Care Clinic across the street to the North from the new Event Center!  If this comes to pass, it will make the perfect parking-share situation for the Event Center and should help keep life in our town center popping all day long and into the night!

Dirty and Proud Event Cancelled

Updated 2/27/15 – Zillah Lakes has been informed today that the ARC Dirty and Proud Obstacle Run has been cancelled for 2015 due to Organizational difficulties.  The event had been scheduled for May 2 of this year and we were looking forward to all them mudders.

Wine Country Crossroads

The intersection of Highway 22 and Interstate 82 at Exit 50 (click on map below to enlarge: Zillah Lakes is the yellow star on the map) is possibly one of the most important in Washington Wine Country.  Located equidistant from Seattle, Portland and Spokane, with straight shots from all three destinations, the intersection is also the pull off spot for one of the most intense wine-touring areas of the state.  In addition it’s the springboard to the rich wine areas of Red Mountain, Columbia and Walla Walla further to the east and south (Over 150 additional wineries!).

Tourist Center
These are not just tourist traps: in terms of the quality of grapes and wines, and the frequency of small brilliant winemakers, these may be the most concentrated authentic wine-country tasting rooms in the world. But wait, heading south on Highway 22 opens up a completely different experience: Fruit Stands, Hop fields, The Yakima River Recreation and Game corridor, Toppenish, the City of Murals where the West Lives on, tribal lands, the Cultural Center, Hotel and Casino, multiple museums (Hop, Railway, Murals), and a vibrant taste of real Mexico in the multiple latino-run eateries, taquerias, tortillarias, and cultural celebrations.

In the dreams of a local group of businesses, governments, and public agencies, this rich diversity all comes together at a new Wine Country Crossroads complex at Exit 50.  A brain storming group assembled before the holidays has done its initial work, laying out two major projects to work on, with a third in the wings.

  1. A public private partnership to landscape and create boulevards north and south of I-82 as well as an art installation on the overpass featuring Wine County and the Crossroads Theme.untitled
  2. A Gas Station with open air public fruit/produce market modeled on similar facilities at Thorp and Selah.
  3. A Tourist center featuring local wine and spirits as well as a “wine country concierge” service to help people experience the best.

Add on features and facilities to this tourist destination might include: wine, beer and cider incubator storefronts, agricultural/winery focused demonstration projects, Rest area and picnic area. specialty food thorpproduction such as cheese, bread, preserves; “fast food” that is authentic, healthy, tasty (such as great taco trucks, fruit and/or produce quick snacks, prepared soups or stews from farm-to-table sources, etc. Whatever the result, much of the freeway service as facilities will likely exist on land owned by Zillah Prairie, the ownership group for Zillah Lakes.

At this point an advisory committee made up of recruited members and several of the brainstorming group from diverse interests including wineries, hospitality industry, wine groups, banking, government, local resident community and tourist offices are ready to convene as an advisory and implementation group in March to carry the project forward.  We believe we will see evidence of their work as early as late 2015 or 2016.

This Newsletter Prepared by Pat Strosahl With contributions from: Doug Lakman, Jose Aguilar, Linda Fox (ARC Dirty & Proud) Wes Hemphill,