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2016 Year in Review No. 2: $350M in investments underway in Branson

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BRANSON, MAY 26—Branson is booming again. The live entertainment capital is in the midst of a $350 million resurgence as new entertainment options spring up across the city.

The ball started rolling publicly in May as property owners within Branson’s 76 Entertainment Community Improvement District approved a 1 percent sales tax designed to revitalize the Highway 76 strip. The tax is expected to generate $400,000 annually toward the $80 million-$100 million streetscape project. It’s designed to improve Branson’s 5-mile entertainment district corridor and could prove to be the Ozarks’ very own kind of Coney Island. The tax is funding improvements, including wider pedestrian walkways, courtyards, landscaping, bicycle and wheelchair accessibility, an improved transportation and traffic control system, and mass transit options.

Once eyes turned toward Branson, Springfield Business Journal identified more than $350 million worth of projects underway.

Highlights include the $10 million Fritz’s Adventure, with rock climbing, tunnels, swings and zip lines; a $10 million amusement park, Bigfoot on the Strip, centered on a 200-foot, free-fall ride; the $5 million Branson Mountain Adventure Park with the Ozarks’ first mountain coaster; and the former Chicago Navy Pier Ferris wheel taking shape as the Branson Ferris Wheel in a $4 million purchase and relocation to Highway 76. Another key project is the Ballparks of America conversion of the former Red Roof Mall into 16 baseball fields; Phase I is $15.5 million.

Then, there is CoxHealth’s new child care facility – also $15.5 million – as well as Mercy’s $19 million specialty clinic on Highway 248 and two more $10 million investments: Antlers Resort at Indian Point and Chalets on Table Rock Lake.

During SBJ’s 12 People You Need to Know breakfast in September, Jonas Arjes, executive director of the Taney County Partnership, said the area has even more just under the surface.

“We have four that have the potential of being more than $100 million apiece. Now, that could all go away tomorrow or we could get one of the four,” he said.

The former Grand Palace is one example. Branson Entertainment Center LLC – run by the Los Angeles-based operators of Branson’s Hollywood Wax Museum – in October 2014 bought the 13-acre parcel and its nearly 100,000-square-foot building for $2.7 million.

Also, CenterCore is working to develop The Alley between Highway 76 and Green Mountain Drive. Investors are planning entertainment venues, a microbrewery, a hotel, restaurants, retail stores and a recording studio that would be open to the public – like the one Sun Records has on Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn.

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