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A proposed whitewater rafting park along state Highway 376 to the west of the Branson strip is expected to attract at least 400,000 visitors annually.
SBJ photo by Eric Olson
A proposed whitewater rafting park along state Highway 376 to the west of the Branson strip is expected to attract at least 400,000 visitors annually.

$446M Branson water park in the works

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Last edited 1:02 p.m., Feb. 20, 2018

Three hundred acres of rolling hills west of the Branson strip may soon be home to a whitewater rafting park. The development, expected to deliver $55 million in tax revenue annually to the city, is hinged on a March 5 tax increment financing plan hearing with the Branson TIF Commission.

Organized by Branson-based CP Branson LLC, the park would be similar to the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, officials say.

“It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen and to say it’s a water park is to do it injustice,” Branson City Administrator Stan Dobbins said this morning at Springfield Business Journal’s 12 People You Need to Know live interview event.

The project is expected to cost roughly $446 million, said Joseph Lauber of Lauber Municipal Law LLC, special counsel on the project for the city of Branson. According to an economic impact survey by Leisure Development Partners, Dobbins said the park could attract 400,000 to 600,000 visitors annually. The 302 acres situated on state Highway 376 currently produce just $17.67 annually in tax revenue, Dobbins said.

CP Branson in October 2017 presented an informal copy of its plan for the park and filed a formal document in December with the Branson TIF Commission. The original meeting was scheduled for Jan. 5, but it was pushed back to March 5.

“As we were going through the formal plan, we found a few places where revisions were needed,” Lauber said. “So we ended up needing the TIF Commission to postpone the hearing.”

CP Branson filed its revised plan this morning in preparation for the March 5 hearing. The plan will move up the ladder to Taney County commissioners after approval, Lauber said, making it difficult to determine a construction and completion timeline.

CP Branson plans to hold a media briefing on the development at 10 a.m. March 5, prior to the TIF Commission hearing. The company’s principal, David Cushman, could not be reached by deadline.

“It’s a robust plan,” Lauber said. “I think it has the potential to bring a whole new generation to Branson.

“I think it will be a really nice complement to what Silver Dollar City has, and I think certainly maybe geared toward a younger crowd that’s looking for outdoors, but more of an athletic type of adventure.”

It’s difficult to determine the projected economic impact of the development, Lauber said – such as money going to off-site hotels, restaurants and gas stations. The economic impact survey, he said, only projects tax generation.

“There is not a way to measure what kind of spinoff it could be,” he said. “All we can look at is how much revenue could be produced on this piece of land, because that is the only place the TIF will apply.”

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