WIMAUMA — The first time Greg Singleton stood on the edge of a crystal lagoon, the view of clear, turquoise waters amazed him beyond expectations.
"You know in my role I see a lot of stuff and I am supposed to be critical," said Singleton, president of Metro Development Group. "But when I saw the one in Cabo, I was like 'Wow, this is clearly a game changer.'"
And now, one of these game changers — a six-acre body of water with more than 10 million gallons of water — will become part of the burgeoning development taking place in Wimauma.
The invention of these sizable, man-made pools, which will soon be a highlight of Metro's new SouthShore Bay community in Wimauma, was born out of failure.
"Fernando Fishman, a real estate developer, bought a piece of land in the '80s which was adjacent to the cold Pacific Ocean (it never reached temperatures above 55 degrees)," said Crystal Lagoons, U.S. Corps executive vice president Kevin Morgan. "He had this epiphany that if he was going to buy a piece of land, he'd need a body of water and the sea wouldn't cut it. Six weeks after the initial fill of the lagoon, it became contaminated. He was devastated."
Unable to fulfill his promise of accompanying his developments with a body of water, Fernando was forced to travel the world, meeting with water specialists in the U.S., Europe and Australia.
"He took matters into his own hand and set up a lab in one of the basements of one of his projects," Morgan said. "It took him seven years to figure out a solution, create and launch the crystal lagoon technology as we know it today."
That technology, which includes a constant circulation of water and a patented cleaning and filtration system (over 1,500 patents in 60 countries), saw its first success in 2007 in Chile.
That 2,800 square-foot swimming pool holds the Guinness World Record for largest lagoon.
It wasn't until six years later that crystal lagoon technology entered the U.S.
"The benefit is you can do everything you can do in the ocean, but there's no sharks or jelly fish," Morgan said. "The lagoons are sustainable, especially in Florida because all of the rain accumulated is constantly replenishing itself."
Construction on the first U.S. lagoon happened in Wesley Chapel in the Epperson development. Wimauma will be home to the second lagoon community in the Tampa Bay Area.
"Metro Development is the first to do lagoons in the U.S." Singleton said. "SouthShore Bay, located at the intersection of 674 and 301 is well under construction now (it's about a 12 month process). It will have a gated section within for ages over 55. That's been a cool trend integrating active adult communities within a larger community. It's peaceful and they can visit their kids and grandkids right near-by."
With a family beach, tide pool areas and a Miami-style cabana area, all ages will benefit from the six-acre lagoon.
"As you come in to SouthShore Bay there's a round about, then a bridge further down, approaching the lagoon. We raised this area between 10 and 16 feet high so basically you're going up, which gives you a long view down," Singleton said.
Metro Development is also breaking the mold by activating the space surrounding the lagoon.
"A lot of lagoons we saw weren't as mindful of what was going on around it," Singleton said.
To that end, there will be an entertainment plaza, a swim-up bar and a Zen garden for residents of the 2,200 planned lots (there's currently 1,200 under contract).
As construction continues and Singleton watches the lagoon being filled, he remains just as impressed as the first time.
"When I first saw pictures of lagoons (before visiting one) I thought they can be airbrushed. I wasn't expecting it to be as impressive as the photos," Singleton said. "I went down there and took pictures with my iPhone and when I came back and talked with partners in New York to introduce the concept I had a slideshow presentation. I interspersed photos provided by Crystal Lagoon with ones from the iPhone and they couldn't tell the difference. It was spectacular."
For more information, visit metrodevelopmentgroup.com or crystal-lagoons.com.
Contact Arielle Waldman at awaldm[email protected]