Monday, January 17, 2022

Williamsburg Pottery plans major expansion with futuristic theme park

(Courtesy KingsLand USA.)
(Courtesy KingsLand USA.)

A biodome, indoor theme park and virtual reality center will be coming to the Williamsburg Pottery if the company’s Vice President Peter Kao achieves his dream.

The Williamsburg Pottery has been a staple of the community since 1938, but a website created in June has revealed that its management may be considering a new attraction for the 750-acre property on which it sits.

KingsLand USA is a proposed multi-purpose attraction that — if approved and constructed — would operate alongside the Williamsburg Pottery. The website lists concept designs for several potential attractions that could be constructed on the property, including an indoor theme park, water park, virtual reality center, international culture performance center, bio-dome, timeshares and hotels, as well as a senior assisted living community.

According to a brochure Williamsburg Pottery provided for prospective investors, “an in-depth analysis by the highly respected Leisure Business Advisors LLC (LBA) has concluded that a destination resort would be the highest and best use of this property.”

The brochure was obtained from the James City County Administrator’s office through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“We want to transition into a new era,” said Kao, who is spearheading the KingsLand USA project.  “We want to develop this land to bring more tourists, more money, and more prosperity for locals. The impact will be huge.”

Kao said that he has met with local governments and is seeking approval for the project.

(Courtesy KingsLand USA.)

James City County Administrator Bryan Hill said that he has been asked to review proposals from Williamsburg Pottery for other ideas for the property, including a colonial-themed hologram museum.  However, he said he is unfamiliar with the proposed KingsLand USA that is now on the website.

“This proposal has not made it to the Board [of Supervisors]. It has not gone through proper channels,” said Hill. “If they wanted to build it as it appears on the [web]site, they would have to go through and propose a zoning change.”

Hill was quoted on the KingsLand website as saying the project will serve as “an opportunity to combine the latest technology with an innovative tourism concept.” He says that quote refers to the proposal he saw for a colonial-themed hologram museum and was taken out of context.

“It is a grand idea in terms of what I was asked to respond to, but what is online right now is not that,” added Hill.

“The Virginia Film and Cultural Theme Park will be a high-tech entertainment and education complex in Williamsburg, Virginia, that uses state-of-the-art, virtual reality technology to tell the story of the United States of America,” stated the proposal that Hill received in 2015. “The virtual reality attraction will be the cornerstone of the Virginia Film and Cultural Theme Park, a 700+ acre complex that when fully built out will include a cultural park, a 5-star hotel, restaurants, retail shopping, office space, and residential housing.”

The KingsLand website now includes many more attractions than those listed in the 2015 proposal, many of which are displayed in a video on the KingsLand site, announcing the endeavor.

When it comes to actually implementing the KingsLand plan, Kao is optimistic that the project will be supported by county government.

“We are relying on the County to ensure that Zoning is supportive of the Project and that the Planning Dept and other will perform expedited reviews as the Project moves forward,” said Peter Kao to Bryan Hill in a letter from March 2015 that was obtained through a FOIA request to James City County.

“Administratively I can be of assistance,” Hill responded in an email.  “Legislatively, I suggest you provide a date you can bring your project to the my board [sic] and request their support.”

Kao said that the Williamsburg Pottery would welcome community feedback on the project and he plans to move forward with the concept shown on the website.

“If anybody can give us more ideas we would be more than happy.”

Adrienne Berard contributed reporting. 

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