Developer unveils plan for $800 million ‘Lagoona Bay’ mixed-use project

Jake Palillo at Lagoona Bay community meeting

By Dave Yochum. Hundreds of people came to an old church gymnasium off Hwy. 73 in Huntersville for developer Jake Palillo’s public unveiling of an $800 million development that includes million-dollar homes, a hotel and a 10-acre freshwater lagoon.

Some of the people listened politely.

One person carrying a sign that said “Hell! No! Jake Palillo!” set the tone for the majority of the presentation that was about a zoning change for an upscale development on 263 acres of farmland on both sides of Hwy. 73 around Westmoreland Road.

Known as Lagoona Bay— there’s a members-only lagoon with beaches at the center of the project—the proposed development would have 250 single family homes starting around $900,000; 320 apartments, 200 townhomes and a little over 400 condos.

Palillo was confronted on topics like human trafficking, housing for teachers and the cost of day care.

Yet his plan calls for a hotel with a rooftop restaurant, a 35,000 square foot conference center and 210,000 square feet of retail, Palillo said, most of the retail being occupied by a wide variety of restaurants.

It’s not about golf anymore

Declaring “the days of golf-centric country clubs are over,” the developer of Bailey’s Glen in Cornelius and nearby Symphony Park in Huntersville said the village would be open to the public, while the lagoon would be an amenity for residents and hotel guests.

“It gives people something that we don’t have,” Palillo said. “There’s a segment of the people that are going to enjoy it. They’re saying that Birkdale is overwhelmed; we can’t get in Birkdale. So, we’re giving you an option for a second Birkdale.”

Traffic issues

Traffic on the two-lane segment of Hwy. 73—it only becomes four-lanes to the west—was a legitimate issue that came up several times.

Palillo said Hwy. 73 widening is slated to start in 2026, about when Lagoona Bay would be opening up, in phases, with residential on deck first.

Palillo, who mentioned two or three times that opponents have posted his children’s and grandchildren’s addresses and schools were posted online, said development of one form or another is coming. Farmland on a major connector like Hwy. 73 is a thing of the past, the Cornelius resident said.

“To say that property will not be developed is wrong,” said Palillo, who was dressed in jeans and a casual, untucked shirt.


Members of his team, officially known as Bi-Part, include landscape architects Urban Design Partners and Housing Studio, whose founder Chuck Travis, a former mayor of Cornelius, attended the meeting.

Palillo said that if the rezoning is approved, he hopes to begin construction next year. A self-made man who never graduated from high school, Palillo said he already has $600,000 in the project.

Multiple steps lie ahead: The first public hearing for the rezoning is set for June 5. The Town Board could take up the project in mid-July.

Palillo, who promised to answer every question even if the meeting went until midnight, did so as the crowd dwindled to fewer than 100 and the meeting turned polite and respectful, including the questions. It was over at 9 pm, two-and-a-half hours after it started.


9 Responses to “Developer unveils plan for $800 million ‘Lagoona Bay’ mixed-use project”

  1. “Hell! No! Jake Palillo!”

    Posted by Myra T Parks | April 27, 2023, 1:43 pm
  2. Typical greed of developers. It is ridiculous to project that the roads will be fully developed upon the opening. And the crime is an issue.

    The town will bow to his money and ignore residents concerns. I honestly don’t know why they even have meetings for the town people to speak out as they ignore their voices. You can bet that he is paying town government under the table.

    Posted by DED | April 27, 2023, 2:00 pm
    • The guy does have tenacity . These developers really need to think about future traffic for current residents. They should present a plan that includes widening or a fifth turn lane. Elon Musk “ The Boring Company” could dig tunnels for travel at 1MM dollars per mile. I would invest in those bonds.

      Posted by TC | April 27, 2023, 4:40 pm
  3. They should call it Lagoony Bay.
    Build the first. We are strangling with traffic already.

    Posted by Rich Purrell | April 27, 2023, 2:33 pm
  4. LAGOONY !!

    OUT //// NY…

    Posted by Carol Dawley | April 27, 2023, 3:11 pm
  5. He is 100% correct – the property will be developed. When you are about 18 miles from downtown of any major city you will have it all infilled. They key is to do it correctly.

    Get rid of all the condos and townhouses. We absolutley need a nice hotel. The hotels off 25 & 28 are mediocre at BEST.

    Posted by BW | April 27, 2023, 5:01 pm
  6. Based on what I’ve seen of Jake Palillo in the press, I’m no fan. But you gotta tip your hat to him for standing up in front of that hostile crowd for several hours – without even any moderator. Looked like people were just randomly shouting at him.

    With this said, BW is right – the land is going to get developed and the proposed Lagoona Bay looks like a good option.

    HOWEVER, our so-called political leaders should not authorize even one shovel of dirt to be turned until the Hwy. 73 widening project is done.

    Posted by Stevie | April 27, 2023, 5:30 pm
  7. I think this is an innovative concept. I like it. I agree that he should be responsible for the cost of widening right at the entrance for turn lanes but the widening of 73 as a whole has been becoming more of an imminent necessity in recent years and is in the works. Further development in the area is inevitable and there are always growing pains as infrastructure plays catch up with development. Jake doesn’t always respond to adversity in the best way and because of that I do feel like there is stronger push back on many of his projects including this just because it is Jake. Did Moss Creek have as much push back when it went in? He is proposing about 1100 units plus hotel, village and water park. Is that significantly more traffic than the entire Moss Creek neighborhood, school, and ball fields? As per previous comments about developer greed, we live in a capitalist society. Kudos for the attempt whether it is approved or not. And projects like this do have benefits for all of us. Aside from the additional tax revenue, local businesses in the area will also benefit. As a small business owner myself, i welcome that. Personally I’m interested in seeing a more detailed plan for this project.

    Posted by Dave K | April 27, 2023, 10:55 pm

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