AURORA — A developer wants to build 321 homes and commercial and office space on the site of the former Sea World and Geauga Lake Campground.

The proposal by the Pulte Group to develop a a 247-acre parcel currently owned by Cedar Fair will be on the city planning commission’s agenda Wednesday.

“This is very positive news,” said Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin. “I am very excited that there is such an interest in a large portion of the vacant land that’s in Aurora.”

Cedar Fair owns about 650 acres in Aurora and Bainbridge Township, which once were the sites of Sea World of Ohio and Geauga Lake Park.

The marine life park was phased out in 2004, the amusement park closed after the 2007 season and the Wildwater Kingdom water park on the former Sea World side of Geauga Lake closed after the 2016 season.

The land Pulte is proposing to develop formerly was occupied by a large parking lot for Sea World, an overflow parking lot and the Geauga Lake Campground.

Although Cedar Fair still owns the land, Pulte officials said a purchase agreement gives Pulte authorization to seek all approvals for the proposed development. According to Portage County property records, the development area consists of six parcels with a total appraised value of $2.54 million.

The proposed 321 homes would be built on 111 acres, while 20.6 acres would be reserved for commercial and office space in the mixed-use development. The remaining 112 acres would be donated to the city for a public park.

The city’s planning-zoning-building department staff is recommending the proposed development plan be accepted for study.

Engineering plans have been prepared by Neff & Associates. Jim O’Connor, representing Pulte, declined to comment.

“Pulte’s proposal aligns with the city’s longtime planning objectives for that land,” said Womer Benjamin. “We’ll be able to preserve a good portion of the land, and that is very beneficial.

“There are some beautiful sites for homes on the old campground section of the land, and future trails are a good possibility back there. There also is a positive commercial element to the proposal.”

The mayor said it has been the city’s wish for a single developer to take over a large portion of the land, and Pulte’s proposal fits in with that plan.

“Pulte so far has worked well with the city. I’m sure they will listen to concerns of planning commission members and the public,” Womer Benjamin said. “Pulte is trying hard to accommodate our mixed-use wishes.”

Councilman Jim Vaca, whose Ward 1 is where the land is situated, said the proposal fits into the city’s mixed-use expectations for the property.

“There is some rugged land there, which is probably unbuildable, but that will probably become the area where the parkland is proposed,” he said. “It will be an architect’s dream if they can pull it off.”

Of the total acreage owned by Cedar Fair, only a small parcel has been sold — for the Liberty Ford dealership on Squires Road — while Cedar Fair also sold the former Geauga Lake Hotel, which is now the Atrium at Anna Maria.

 

Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189, or klahmers@recordpub.com.