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What's That Smell?

Spotlight On Community

Out with Bayside, In with Sapphire Bay

I'll be honest with you. I miss coming home on I-30 and seeing the green hill on the north side of the bridge. I understand the land was too valuable to leave empty, but I still liked it.

As they began to pave paradise and put up a parking facility, I tried to focus on the good things coming across the way. Only I wasn't able to do that for long. The Bayside developers soon changed their tune about the proposed destination resort, to be built on the south side of the project. Instead of an entertainment mecca, they let us know it would just be another mixed-use development, of which there are already far too many in DFW (IMHO.)

The other day I was driving across the bridge and smelled something odd. It wasn't fishy, but it reminded me something had been rotten on the peninsula. I knew Rowlett and the developer had recently come to some kind of agreement. The project was taken out of the hands of Bayside and into the hands of a group called Sapphire Bay, after a sale of the land. I'd been excited by the returned hope of a destination resort with the Crystal Lagoon, but I'd also read all the bad spin on the local Facebook groups and listened to other skeptics. Had the Sapphire Bay deal already gone so sour I could smell it?

The Crystal Lagoon is Back

If the destination resort was just a ruse by Bayside, as so many local residents believe, I don't think anyone told Kent Donahue. I will never forget two years ago, hearing him talk with pride and excitement about the Crystal Lagoon, when he was still lead developer for Bayside. I, among others, was sold. Apparently he wasn't willing to turn around and sell the lagoon-less project to the disappointed populace. Instead, someone else had that job and Kent Donahue was out. Apparently, Donahue stayed true to the vision and is once again lead developer for the project with its new name. And he's been busy.

I remember visiting the Bayside project in the days after I first listened to Donahue. Chain link fences were up all over the place, protecting us from the construction that never happened. The fences seemed to taunt me from the peninsula every time I drove across the bridge, reminding me I'd lost my green hill for one more mixed use development. I noticed the old chain link fences came down after the change of hands and I figured the new guys would soon replace them, but I was wrong.

And Then I Smelled Something

Remember that funny smell as I crossed the bridge? At first, I wondered if my car had gotten hot, but all the gauges said I was fine. I looked around and the cars near me seemed to be OK, too. I wondered if perhaps the smell had something to do with Sapphire Bay, so I took the Dalrock exit.

Lo and behold, there was a huge fire burning. Many trees on the peninsula had been uprooted and were being burned. Instead of elaborate chain link fences with slick looking Bayside signs, there are just huge "Private Property / No Trespassing" banners and lots of green environmental plastic evident around the perimeter.

There are also big wooden signs pointing the way to the Sapphire Bay Marina, but once you get there, expensive Bayside signs still dominate the area. Things are obviously in flux, but I couldn't help noticing the Sapphire Bay trappings looked a bit more low budget than the Bayside acoutrements.

As I turned around to return to the highway, I compared the show Bayside had offered, with fancy logos and bright new flags waving, to the more practical signage and frayed flags of the new developers. Could it be that Bayside had spent more money on their trimmings to help con us into believing their ruse? Or was it that because of the potential income from the residential part of the development they could afford a little fancier stuff.

I guess we'll never know. Given a little more time, Sapphire Bay may also have a fancy logo, expensive signs and other upscale trappings, but I was cheered to see that they weren't waiting for those to get busy with the real work.

Surf City USA?

When announced the successful takeover by Sapphire Bay, they noted the return of the Crystal Lagoon with its fountain, but they seemed ever more excited about the coming wave pool. According to one local resident, who moved here from Hawaii, surfers from around the world are breathlessly waiting to surf on Lake Ray Hubbard's wave pool. Since Phase One, which includes the wave pool, is scheduled to be finished in 2023, we should be observing the pool being dug sooner rather than later.

Watching the development of the Dalrock peninsula, with all its ups and downs, has been a little dizzying. Did Bayside ever actually intend to build the entertainment complex? Only they know. I tend to be gracious to developers, because we need the exciting visions they bring us, but on the other hand, I don't wear rose-colored glasses, either. I know when a project will take years to complete, things change, but such a drastic change, unwanted by virtually everyone except the developer, is bound to cause some skepticism. Some people think it is only a matter or time until the Sapphire Bay developers also fail to produce a Crystal Lagoon and I sincerely hope they are completely wrong.

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