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Fort Rapids waterpark in Columbus closed by police

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According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Fort Rapids hotel & indoor waterpark has been shut down by police. http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2016/02/22/Fort-Rapids-Waterpark-closed-by-police.html

 

 

Police cited a history of problems at the property near I-70 and Hamilton Road, including multiple fire code violations, bug infestations and improper food handling.

 

This property is the former Columbus Hilton, which has gone through financial difficulties & several owners since the indoor waterpark was constructed in the early 2000s.

 

More from a local TV station's report last week; at least 32 people sick: http://myfox28columbus.com/news/local/abc-6-investigates-troubled-waters-at-popular-central-ohio-water-park

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Seems like they are having similar difficulties to what Coco Key in Cincinnati is/was having.  It was shut down for fire code violations a while back.

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It's shut down due to multiple reasons, bed bugs, fire codes, chlorine vapors, general dirtiness, food service violations, improper water filtration, etc. 

I've seen dirty diapers laying around on the floor in the water park. It's just very very dirty. The resort has received a grade of "F" from the BBB. 

I read a report that the waterpark was open on NYE, where the guests were in the water and said it was colder in the water than it was outside. From what I've gathered the folks running it didn't really know what they were doing. 

Quite sad....it doesn't help that the resort isn't in the best part of town either.

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I remember visiting a few times in late spring 2011 for work meetings. We took a tour and the rooms they showed us weren't the best. I remember a small hole in the wall in one of the rooms - maybe from a doorknob? There were very few people in the water park. Most of the stuff looked okay but things were a bit off if that makes sense.

When traveling for work, people would ask me about going there for their Columbus vacation. I would just tell them to look at reviews and if they are looking for Great Wolf Lodge or Kalhari type experience, they will not be happy with Fort Rapids. There are better and cheaper hotels in better areas of Columbus.

A friend works at a local high school that was going to have their prom there so now they are out of a venue and have to find a new place. Which is really unfortunate.

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As the news reports have stated the resort is shut down for the next 8 weeks to resolve the reported issues.  I imagine serious fumigation will be going on to battle the bed bugs and roaches that have been prevalent for many years.  I wonder if guests will be willing to come back, at this point it might be wise to reimagine the resort.  Change names, theme, new attraction or 2, something to go along with a cleaner, safer, better environment.

 

We visited the resort about 4 years ago and stayed in the new build villas on site.  The rooms were pretty nice, the water park had lots of potential and some unique attractions, and the resort had potential.  Management was horrible to deal with over random charges they put on our account and we felt overall the resort was at a tipping point.  Either improvements would be made or it would be allowed to spiral downward.  Very unfortunate the state it is in now.

 

Surprised Great Wolf or Kalahari has not built in Columbus, something the town is truly missing during the winter.

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I'd imagine neither company is eager to have multiple locations within two hours of one another - both Kalahari and Great Wolf have locations in Sandusky, and of course Great Wolf is also in Mason. If you make them less common, they'll be more attractive to potential guests.

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True. The more rare a location the odds that it stays full which means more money. More money means they can take care of the place.

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I believe that Kalahari looked at building in the NW portion of the city a few years back, but the Columbus Zoo was very, very close to building their own hotel and indoor waterpark at that that time, which likely scared them off.

 

The zoo rolled back those plans after the failed permanent tax levy, though it is still something they want to do in the somewhat near future.

 

On Fort Rapids, it was actually very, very well done when it first opened. Unfortunately, the original developers bankrupted themselves building it and the Phase 2 of their concept (condos, retail, and entertainment) were abandoned. A parade of bad ownership and the loss of the Holiday Inn affiliation set it on the path that brought us here. The potential is there for this place to work out.. while it's not in the best part of town, the freeway and odd offramp configuration isolate the resort fairly well. The fact that the resort survived this long despite inept management and horrible upkeep is evidence that there is demand for something like this. Gaining a recognizable hotel affiliation again would do wonders, and a cleaned up waterpark and improved restaurant concept would solidify things.

 

For clarity... I work as an assignment editor in a Columbus television newsroom. Most of my Tuesday was spent reading through inspection reports from the Division of Fire, State Fire Marshall, Department of Agriculture, and Health Department, and I can tell you that what I read was appalling. Beyond the expected filthy kitchen, inadequate air circulation, and multiple fire code violations, I found some evidence that could suggest some employees being held in a "work to live" environment and potential signs of human trafficking.

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^ I "liked" that post for the detailed information and brief history lesson, not for the last sentence. Human trafficking is most definitely not something to like.

 

That said, I'm afraid I have to show my ignorance again. What do you mean by a "work to live" environment?

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A parade of bad ownership and the loss of the Holiday Inn affiliation set it on the path that brought us here.

 

Just curious: When was this? I stayed there twice about seven or eight years ago and didn't think it was awful, and now I'm curious as to when in that timeline my visits were.

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^ I "liked" that post for the detailed information and brief history lesson, not for the last sentence. Human trafficking is most definitely not something to like.

 

That said, I'm afraid I have to show my ignorance again. What do you mean by a "work to live" environment?

 

"Work to live" is, and please forgive me if this seems culturally insensitive, a business practice that is most often seen in the Asian restaurant and massage industry. Workers are brought into this country (some legally, some not), and employed at a business that also provides their housing. Typically you'll see a large number of people crammed into a small apartment, or with some massage parlors, the employees are forced to live at the business itself.  Deducting the employees housing money from their already low wages means most are unable to get themselves out of the situation.

 

In the case of Fort Rapids, they were cited multiple times by the Columbus Division of Fire for having several of their meeting rooms converted into communal "employee sleeping areas." (Note that these inspection reports are all public record)

 

 

 

A parade of bad ownership and the loss of the Holiday Inn affiliation set it on the path that brought us here.

 

Just curious: When was this? I stayed there twice about seven or eight years ago and didn't think it was awful, and now I'm curious as to when in that timeline my visits were.

 

 

The resort opened in 2006, and didn't suffer any noticeable declines until around 2009/2010. I was lucky enough to be there for their pre-opening VIP party since I was working in local media. My family and I were treated to one of the new rooms for the night, as well as free meals, water park passes, and an open bar. The place was very, very nice.  It's only been in the last 3 or 4 years that things got so out of hand. The conversion of their western-themed Steakhouse (which was once quite nice, BTW) into the "Koo Seafood Buffet" was a last-ditch effort to try and use the restaurant to draw people to the property. The inspection reports for the restaurant in particular are grueling.

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I worked across the parking lot/street back in 07/08. After the show we would go over there for a drink or two. Always seemed clean and not terrible.

My question is once a building gets so bad can it be fixed to house food again. Will people go with that record?

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This seems to fit the timeline of my only visit, which was enjoyable and right before the transition from steakhouse to seafood restaurant.  The findings of these reports makes the situation even worse.

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I worked across the parking lot/street back in 07/08. After the show we would go over there for a drink or two. Always seemed clean and not terrible.

My question is once a building gets so bad can it be fixed to house food again. Will people go with that record?

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What's working in their favor is that much of the facility was newly constructed in 2006... aside from the tower, which was built in the '70s as the first Columbus Hilton, the lobby, restaurant, bar, villa wing, and water park are all very young, building-wise. With the facility completely shut down, they should be able to fumigate the facility fairly thoroughly. In a brief discussion with one of the owners who has been on site since the shut down, he certainly seems like the ownership group wants to get things back into shape. They already had crews there yesterday taking a look at the air handlers in the water park area and trying to get that situation cleared up.

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The PR nightmare this place will be dealing with when they reopen is going to be tough.  Time for major discounts, promotions, and maybe a new theme or attraction.  The reviews on TripAdvisor are enough to scare anyone away.  Barely a 2 star rating.  The local drug hotel in my hometown has a better rating

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No news reports that I recall since February. Their Facebook page says "Permanently Closed".

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The last reports I heard/read was that they narrowed it down that the park had too much chlorine and was causing people to be sick. Also the restaurant finally gave up its license back in March or April

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Drove by on Wednesday of this week and it was dead, not a car around or anything. The big sign on top of the building that stated "Fort Rapids Waterpark" has been removed.

I highly doubt it opens anytime soon.

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When?

And the current status of the place is?

 

Don't hold your breath. There was work at the site daily through much of the spring, but the site has been a ghost town since late May or early June.

 

I'm assuming the current ownership group has deemed the needed repairs to expensive to complete, and that we'll see the site back on the county's auction block.

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Plus that exit if I recall my time in Columbus isn't that great. Sure the hotel is sort of separated from the main drag but I worked at the tv station across the street from there (big black glass buildings) and we would be harassed getting gas or eating at the Taco Bell

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Update, after speaking to a rep for Reagan Hotels who owns the property:

 

The electrical and fire alarm systems have been repaired, as has been the roof of the Villa wing. They are hoping to sell the resort and have no plans currently to reopen it under their ownership.

 

The property does have an existing operational permit from the State Fire Marshall that is good through the end of this year, but it does not have a valid hotel occupancy permit from the City of Columbus. Additionally, the former operator of the restaurant relinquished their food safety permit, so the restaurant space would need to be re-permitted separately from the hotel to reopen.

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Hmmm.

Location, location, location.

I wonder what the highest and best use for that property is.

Somehow I doubt it is water park/hotel/restaurant complex.

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Sadly the area directly around the property isn't the most business friendly. 

Not even a few minutes/4ish miles down the road, sits an empty lot that once had the hub of the South East Columbus business. See the picture below (screen cap from Google Maps). This hub featured retail, food, Sams Club, grocery store and a movie theater. The area of town started to decline and all of the business started to pull out. The movie theater stood for about 4 or 5 years if I remember correctly. In the picture below you see a long building, that would be Ohio's Department of Commerce...I find quite hilarious that it's there where this massive footprint of a once bustling area of town. 

consumer%20square_zpscjn57ft7.png

 

Travel a few miles up the road and what do you see? Other businesses shuttered, other businesses covered in graffiti and lower income housing. Travel just a little further and what do we see the building that houses (or once did) Fort Rapids....currently shuttered. In an area where businesses are struggling to stay open, an area that lacks character and lacks the ability to stay afloat. Now Fort Rapids does have successful neighbors, but the area it's in doesn't support it's reputation. It too has low income housing around it and unfortunately a lot of the clientele of Fort Rapids didn't respect the property.

 

I hope that if a new operator takes over (yes I said if, because I don't see anyone wanting to deal with the headaches) they've got a lot of work to do to update not only the property but the building, staffing and reputation (security and all). 

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^

I had a poorly thought out response to this issue as I tried to express my concern over social and societal issues, but with everything that has happened lately I'm took exhausted to make a coherent statement.  Fort Rapids and the entire area around it is just a sad situation.  There was promise for the Resort, but they area could never support it nor did the area embrace it.  

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Wow, I drive to that area all the time to shop at Bath and Body Works since it's the closest one to where I live. I never knew Fort Rapids was that close, even though I'd always see it from the highway. 

 

Years ago when I was around 10, I visited the hotel back when it was a Holiday Inn (I think). It had a really nice indoor pool with skylights and you could see the entire hotel lit up at night.  I never got to visit it when it was Fort Rapids.

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I believe you are correct, it was a Holiday Inn for a while. I visited Fort Rapids once and was not impressed. :/ 

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