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Construction begins on Pocono Mountains resort

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 01 2013 05:07:07 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 02 2013 04:50:32 PM CDT

A seasonal shift is a sight to see in the Poconos but the change at one site will soon be impossible to miss.

TOBYHANNA TWP., Pa. -

A seasonal shift is a sight to see in the Poconos but the change at one site will soon be impossible to miss.

A ground-breaking, which included Governor Tom Corbett, celebrated the construction kickoff.

By spring of 2015, a 150 acre, $250 million, indoor water park, hotel and conference center will transform Tobyhanna Township's, Pocono Manor resort into what many hope is a major East Coast attraction.

"People don't want to fly to Vegas for their conventions all the time. We need an East Coast resort that would have the amenities people look for," Pocono Manor owner Morris Bailey said.

It will be the first of the three-phase $350 million Kalahari Resorts project that officials say will create 1,000 new jobs. A key cog will be a 65,000 square foot convention center.

A center CEO of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau Carl Wilgus thinks will create a cavalcade of new tourism to the area.

"We think the natural environment gives us a leg up with certain groups and organizations," Wilgus said.

The convention center is set for the Poconos but the Lehigh Valley is looking to have one too.

So the question is: Will this site affect the Lehigh Valley?

The Bethlehem Steel site is being considered for a convention center.

Lehigh Valley tourism officials say the center is crucial for the area and the Christmas City site would cater to a different clientele than the Poconos.

Kalahari head Todd Nelson thinks the market is big enough for both.

"This is a $50 million person market. There are more associations, more trade shows, more groups than you can imagine. They are going to do fabulous and we are going to do fabulous," Nelson said.

One way or another changes are coming to the Poconos and as with many things beauty is in the eye of the beholder.