The Virginia Beach Dome was an iconic structure in the Oceanfront neighborhood for more than 35 years. Built in 1957, the popular concert venue hosted everyone from The Rolling Stones to Ray Charles. It was demolished in 1994, and since then, various suggestions and ideas have come and gone from different developers seeking to utilize the valuable 10-acre site.
The latest proposal, according to the Virginian-Pilot, is an urban complex featuring restaurants, apartments, retail stores, and live music venues. The centerpiece, however, would be something special: a year-round surf park powered by artificial waves.
The Venture Realty Group plans to bring the project to life with the help of musical legend Pharrel Williams, who grew up in Virginia Beach. “We are excited he will bring his amazing network, contacts, and marketing and branding ideas to the table,” developer Donna MacMillan-Whitaker said. “Anyone who has seen our plan loves the concept.”
The surf park itself would be designed by Wavegarden, a Spanish company pioneering the development of surf parks around the world. The Wavegarden Cove, which is planned for the new site, can generate up to 1,000 waves per hour.
“The high wave frequency of the Cove enables a high user capacity, which is essential for surfers wanting to catch lots of waves,” Wavegarden CEO Josema Odriozola said on the comapny’s site. “The versatility of our technology means we can alter wave height, shape and power in an instant to match the experience level of all surfers. Also, wave frequency can be adjusted to cater precisely for the number of surfers in the water.”
Local business owners seem excited to have the dilapidated parking lot replaced with something more vibrant and unique. “We want to be able to see a walking district and more and more events incorporating the entire area,” Dwayne Appleton, owner of Java Surf, told WTKR. “Having the wave pool be a year-long attraction.”
Wavegarden was formed in 2005, and after a decade of research the first facility using the technology opened in 2015. Surf Snowdonia in North Wales hosted 150,000 visitors its first year and a second location, NLand Surf Park, opened in Austin, Texas the next year. Currently, the company has more than 20 ongoing projects in the works.
Soon, you may be able to grab your skeg and take the drop at a nearby surf park, even if you live hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean. At least you won’t have to worry about sharks.