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Chester County Press

Swim club developers propose to renovate and manage two additional venues at Saint Anthony in the Hills

03/17/2021 10:33AM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

Several months ago, the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors gave Splash Surf Club owners John McKenzie and Nick Reynolds the keys to the forlorn and empty swimming facility at Saint Anthony in the Hills, with the license to bring the old pool back to life.

Piece by piece and one excavation at a time, McKenzie and Reynolds are turning an underused eyesore into what many expect to become one of the major destinations in the township. The venue will convert the location into a vacation at home, reminiscent of a week in a tropical resort, complete with hot tubs, cabanas, lounges and a restaurant.

After they gave the board an update of the progress being made at their new Splash Surf Club at the board’s March 15 online meeting – which is expected to open on Memorial Day weekend of this year – McKenzie and Reynolds then unwrapped two more potential projects they are proposing for Saint Anthony in the Hills: to invest their own capital to renovate and then manage the building known as the Stables, as well as upgrade the large miniature golf course, known for its grand and stately hole-by-hole architecture.

Twin proposals for Saint Anthony in the Hills

Renovation of the building, which is tentatively being called “The Stables in the Hills,” would convert the T-shaped facility into a fully-operational catering, conference center and banquet hall that would become available to the public for various events. In addition, the company would hire an executive chef to manage the facility and as many as 60 additional staff.

If approved by the board, the timeline for the estimated $1.3 million project would begin in April with the clearing of the existing grounds. In May, renovation plans and architectural renderings would be unveiled, as well as a social media campaign, followed by renovation of the existing structure in June.

The project would then kick off construction on a proposed ballroom in September with a completion date slated for next February, followed by a grand opening next March.

At an estimated cost of $185,000, McKenzie and Reynolds would provide much-needed landscape and structural upgrades to the 18-hole miniature golf course – tentatively called “Castle Mini Golf in the Hills” – in order to convert the facility into a new entertainment center, with full-service concessions that would include the hiring of 15 to 20 employees.

As part of the perks of the proposed new course, New Garden Township residents would be allowed to use the facility for free from Monday through Thursday, and receive a 50 percent discount on all other days.

If approved by the board, clean-up of the course would begin in April, architectural renderings would be made available to the township in May, and construction would begin in June and be completed by this September.

“We have invested a lot of time and capital into [the Splash Surf Club], and because we are there each and every day, we see other buildings on the property, particularly those that we drive by in order to get to Splash,” Reynolds said. “We feel it’s very important to make the rest of the park as compatible to the same high standards we’re creating for Splash. We want to recreate the ‘wow’ factor that we’re developing at the pool.”

Splash Surf Club progressing toward late May opening

McKenzie and Reynolds also brought the board up to date on the progress of the Splash Surf Club. As of the middle of March, the project now includes the construction on new in-ground hot tubs; the demolition of the area that will become the new restaurant, as well as the current pool complex; the construction of new pools, a new pool deck and new diving boards; the purchase of its Chester County liquor license for its restaurant and lounges; the hiring of executive chef Dean DuPuis and kitchen staff for its restaurant; the completion of the first phase of landscaping features and painting; and the purchase of several items of furniture and equipment, which should be arriving in April.

Addressing the issue of how the facility plans to control noise that may carry to neighboring developments such as Somerset Lake, McKenzie said that he and Reynolds have hired a sound company to best place and point music speakers to increase sound abatement.

McKenzie said that he and Reynolds have witnessed a great momentum leading up to the facility’s opening.

“We have had a great response from the people in New Garden Township, who are taking advantage of the ten percent off discount that is available to them,” he said. “We do decibel readings on our own to identify where the noise travels.”

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].