Call it a Disney World for the triathlon. That’s what Bill Scott envisions for the Trihabitat project in Pender County.


Call it a Disney World for the triathlon. That’s what Bill Scott envisions for the Trihabitat project in Pender County.



He’s the founder of Set Up Events, the principal group behind Trihabitat, which won approval recently from the Pender County Board of Commissioners to build the 1,080-acre training and racing facility about five miles east of the N.C. 210 intersection with Interstate 40.



The construction and launch of the new facility will be a boon to Pender County, making it the centerpiece of triathlon training and racing on the East Coast, says Bouker Pool, managing partner of Weck Enterprises in Sea Cliff, N.Y., which is working with Set Up Events on the Trihabitat project.



Not everyone in Pender is ready to run, swim and bike great distances, Pool acknowledged, but a whole lot of folks living in the 900-square-mile county will nevertheless be advantaged by Trihabitat’s location within its boundaries.



Trihabitat’s developer has an option on the land and is raising capital for the project. If everything goes according to plan, its first event will be held in 2016, following completion of a 14-mile bike course, a 6.5-mile running course, a 25-acre lake, five stadiums to seat spectators, a 20-room lodge with a multi-purpose room, a 50-site recreational vehicle park, 25 economy cabins, a campsite and bath house facilities for race participants, a race village for vendors and an amphitheater.



Typically, Trihabitat will host a multitude of endurance events, including triathlons of various distances. The facility will also be open daily on a year-round basis for training, camps, clinics and other activities. In addition to triathlons, Trihabitat also expects to produce a variety of other events, such as kayak races, open-water swims, bike time trials, and obstacle course races.



“We have already hired McKim & Creed (engineering firm) who will help us hire local contractors and will create jobs within the construction sector,” Pool said.



The facility will not have that many full-time employees — a handful, Pool said — “but we will be hiring local vendors and contractors to provide food services, sanitation, and certain contractors to come in and provide services and opportunities to provide better experiences for consumers.”



The door will be open for entrepreneurs throughout Pender County, Pool suggested.



Other than that, Trihabitat will be a significant taxpayer, and its lodge and cabins will contribute to the lodgings tax, a portion of which goes to beach nourishment projects.



“We are not looking to build a big hotel or anything like that,” Pool said, but there might be others who would undertake such a project nearby. He envisions the project spurring the opening of other new businesses, such as restaurants, stores and perhaps a bicycle shop to serve endurance sports fans and participants.



“The stores that are nearby will certainly see traffic coming and going, and others will find the area opportunistic for some small businesses there,” Pool said.



“Every participant brings an average of 2.2 people with them,” he added. “Those are people who are spending money, visiting local attractions.”



“There is obviously going to be a major impact on Pender County,” Scott agreed. “We’re going to be attracting tens of thousands of visitors a year. It will obviously spur some development in the area. This is a sport on the uptick.”