Clear Lake breaks ground on Surf Ballroom Music Enrichment & Immersive Center and Gateway Feature & Streetscape Improvements

On April 17th, 1933, the Surf Ballroom officially opened for business on the banks of Clear Lake. Yesterday, April 17th, 2024, marked a significant milestone in the development of the Surf District as Clear Lake celebrated the groundbreaking of the Surf Ballroom Music Enrichment & Immersive Center and Gateway Feature & Streetscape Improvements. This project, which has been in the works for over a year and a half, is set to transform the landscape of Clear Lake’s Surf District and its surrounding areas. 

Clear Lake City Administrator Scott Flory said this is an amazing opportunity for Clear Lake. 


Flory started involving others in this project in the summer of 2022 to take their “temperature,” as he stated to the nearly 100 people attending the ceremony inside the Surf yesterday morning. That included an impromptu meeting with Debi Durham, the Director of the Iowa Finance Authority and Economic Development Authority. Durham, who was in attendance yesterday, spoke to the crowd about IEDA involvement and said this is game-changing for Clear Lake. 


According to the Surf, the Music Enrichment Center will be a dynamic space featuring a visitor center/ticket office and gift shop, expanded lesson studios, conference space/catering kitchen, and 1,800 square foot immersive, exploratory space dedicated to showcasing the Surf Ballroom’s significant contributions to music history. From the early days of big band sound to rock and roll and even modern-day musicians, the Surf has played a pivotal role in shaping the musical landscape, and the development of this center serves as a testament to that legacy.

IEDA gifted the project 4.3 million dollars as part of Destination Iowa, a program Durham credited Governor Reynolds for. Durham said Clear Lake proved that rural communities can compete with larger communities for this enormous amount of funding. 


Multiple million dollars were awarded to Clear Lake in December 2022. However, another $400,000 was recently awarded to the project through a community Attraction and Tourism Grant. Those figures accompany the 35.2 million in public and private funding to complete this large-scale project. 

Durham wasn’t the only unique visitor in Clear Lake yesterday. Connie Valens, the sister of Ritchie Valens, played his final show in Clear Lake in February 1959 before his deadly plane crash. Valens stated that the Surf is home to her, and she feels at home when she walks through those famed front doors. 


This was only the groundbreaking, with an estimated completion date of June 2025 for everything to be completed.





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