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Snow Waters, a proposed $50 million development on Conneaut Lake, will feature a 182-slip marina.

SUMMIT TOWNSHIP — Jeffrey Davenport is betting $50 million that Baby Boomers across the region have such happy memories of Conneaut Lake Park they’ll want to retire here.

Specifically, Davenport’s hoping to lure them to his planned condominium development featuring a golf course, marina and restaurants on the current site of the Jo-Winn Trailer Park on Route 618 just north of the park. It will be called “Snow Waters” — a translation of the Native American name word for Conneaut Lake.

Marketing studies show “the Baby Boomers are eager to reacquaint with the past and their good experiences and fun times. They like the condo-home thing,” Davenport said, explaining why his company is confident in investing the development.

Many of those identified as potential buyers are from the Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo areas, and many mention their memories of the local amusement park and their summer vacations to Conneaut Lake.

“These people love having condos,” he said. “They do not want to deal with maintenance issues (of home ownership). They want to enjoy coming home. That’s exactly what we are going to be building,” Davenport said.

Asked why he chose a rural setting for this development, Davenport said, “The lake deserves to have a really serious, well-done development,” and he believes his company and his expertise can create such a development.

Another major consideration for potential buyers is the lifestyle in northwestern Pennsylvania. “The crime rate is low. People are safe here,” he said. In addition, the nearby lake offers them the ability to enjoy their retirement. While the site is not in an urban area, it is close to needed facilities and has no traffic congestion.

“The market shows there are eight million people within a two-hour drive to Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania,” he said, identifying the base from which he hopes to draw clients.

An “interested list” of those wishing to purchase condos is already being developed.

If all goes as Davenport plans, his company will take possession of the trailer court and the Park Golf Course in October — the second step in the process.

The first step was having Summit Township Zoning Ordinance changed to accommodate the development.

Township supervisors approved the changes at a recent meeting.

The development will include a marina with 182 slips for boats to access Conneaut Lake via the area now referred to as the inlet. The marina village and condominiums will be erected in the area where mobile homes now sit.

Davenport has been meeting with state and federal agencies and officials to secure the necessary permits to make the development work.

“It’s very complex,” he said, noting the area includes wetlands. “There are no endangered species,” he said of potential concerns about fish and other wildlife.

A new bridge is proposed over Route 618 over Inlet Creek, which will allow both ski boats and pontoon boats up to 24 feet in length to have access to Conneaut Lake. His company has worked with the state to make preliminary plans for that work as well.

The project will be developed in four phases over a four-year period with initial infrastructure construction for the marina and 60 condo units to start in April 2007.

Phase two will be construction of another 51 condo units. Phase three will be the golf village which will include renovation of the current Park Golf Course club house and addition of a restaurant to accommodate 300 people in a banquet setting.

The current golf course will be rerouted and lengthened by 500 yards to a 6,500-yard course. Both the course and the restaurant will remain open to the public.

The marina village will include a restaurant as well.

A nature interpretation park and trail will be constructed in the area adjacent to the current trailer park.

Davenport, who has experience developing and operating resort properties in Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Texas and California, is excited to return to Crawford County where his family has owned an apple farm for more than 115 years.

He said the project will add at least 100 jobs during construction periods and at least 60 jobs in permanent employment. “They will be good-paying jobs with benefits,” he added.



Jane Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at jsmith@meadvilletribune.com

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