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First Look: The Surfing USA-Inspired Beach Development Expected To Transform Rowlett

What will a mixed-use development inspired by the tropics look like in the heart of North Texas?

Rendering of front entrance to Sapphire Bay in Rowlett.

Rowlett residents are getting the answer to that question for the first time with developer Sapphire Bay Land Development's new renderings for the Sapphire Bay mixed-use development off Interstate 30 in Rowlett.

With two city-selected developers behind the project — Sapphire Bay Land Development President Marc English and Donahue Development Corp.'s Kent Donahue — Sapphire Bay is a step closer to reality after a yearlong delay caused by legal disputes between a former development partner and Rowlett City Hall.

Rendering of Sapphire Bay

The renderings show Sapphire Bay as a massive, beach-inspired community anchored by a 500-room resort hotel, 1.4M SF of commercial space, office towers, residential areas and a surf and beach club that includes competitive surfing in the heart of Texas. 

The developer also envisions a lazy river and a tropical-inspired crystal lagoon that ties the development together against the backdrop of Lake Ray Hubbard. The manmade surfing pool is designed to create competition-level waves. 


Local investment group Sapphire Bay Marina LLC recently acquired the nearby marina and intends to rename it Sapphire Bay Marina to solidify branding for the site.

The developers, English and Donahue, also selected a few key partners to help them build and operate a premier resort destination in Rowlett: consulting firm and beach lifestyle innovator VenuBlue; lead architect 5G Studio Collaborative; civil engineer Brian Bridgewater with Manhard Consulting; pool and amenities designer Lifescapes International and Martin Brinkerhoff Associates, which will be responsible for the design and production of the island's entertainment features.