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Plans for Mall of America's giant waterpark get even bigger, as does the cost

The project could now cost as much as $250 million.

The Mall of America's ambitious plans to build the largest indoor waterpark in North America have got even more ambitious, and more expensive.

An update to the plans for the giant waterpark, located opposite the Bloomington megamall and to the east of Ikea, has been published on the Bloomington City website ahead of a meeting of the council and Port Authority on Thursday.

It reveals that the owners of the Mall of America, Triple 5, don't think a 225,000 square feet, $150-$200 million waterpark was big enough.

It's not proposing to increase the size of the park to 250,000 square feet, with the estimated cost ballooning to a massive $230-$250 million.

It would dwarf the waterpark it's modeled on, the 215,000 square foot park at the West Edmonton Mall in Canada.

The development also includes space for a hotel, but unlike the nearby Great Wolf Lodge, the waterpark will be open to all, not just those staying at the hotel.

Amid the rise of online shopping, malls have increasingly been looking to transform into more well-rounded entertainment attractions to mitigate the decline of in-store retail.

The MOA has already increased the amount of food and entertainment options it has in Bloomington, while the Triple 5 group says that new malls it's building have about 50 entertainment components.

The MOA is currently about 70 percent retail, and has wanted a waterpark "for years," according to council documents, as it looks for "new traffic generators" to diversify its holding, with hotels and office space also a part of that strategy.

If the project is approved, work could start next year and be ready to open as soon as 2021.

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Who's paying for it?

While the land is owned by Triple 5, the financing for the project would be undertaken by a nonprofit set up specifically for the development, to allow the city access to lower income rates for construction loans and exemption from property taxes.

The city and Triple 5 both believe the revenue generated by the park through ticket sales, room rentals and admission, will be enough to cover the construction debt payments as well as the center's running costs.

If it's not, taxes would be enacted at the Mall of America to cover any shortfalls. 

The City of Bloomington said that local residents' property taxes would not be used for the project.

Triple 5 would sign a 50-year lease to operate the waterpark, which would be owned by the nonprofit for 30 years, after which it passes into the ownership of the city.

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