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Public financing for the proposed Branson Adventures attraction, above, is voted down by the Branson Board of Aldermen.
Rendering provided by CP Branson LLC
Public financing for the proposed Branson Adventures attraction, above, is voted down by the Branson Board of Aldermen.

Branson aldermen deny waterpark TIF proposal

Posted online

The Branson Board of Aldermen yesterday shut down a proposed public financing plan for the Branson Adventures project.

CP Branson LLC, led by local developer David Cushman and a team of out-of-state consultants, sought $115.6 million in tax increment financing and sales tax revenue to cushion the attraction’s expected cost of nearly $446 million.

The board voted 5-1 — with Alderman Bill Skains casting the only affirmative vote and Mayor Karen Best absent — on the first reading of the financing bill. Branson spokeswoman Melody Pettit said a second bill reading will not be held because of yesterday’s decision.

Pettit added CP Branson can reintroduce the TIF proposal in six months, per city statute.

Cushman was unable to attend the meeting, citing “personal reasons” in a statement to Springfield Business Journal this morning. He requested a new hearing date, but aldermen denied the motion prior to casting their votes.

“As a lifelong resident and hopeful developer to this project, I wanted nothing more than to present our final round of points and answers,” he said.

Cushman said the board’s decision “sends a clear and negative signal to anyone considering bringing transformative business to this market.”

“The fact that we have delivered countless data, answered even more questions and delivered the world’s foremost tourism economists to Branson didn’t matter,” he added. “Branson today, tomorrow and after will be as these aldermen wished.”

In the statement, Cushman pledged to “find a home for the adventure traveler of the Midwest to enjoy.” He previously told SBJ that Branson Adventures would not happen without TIF approval.

Patrick Tuohey, director of municipal policy for the free-market think tank Show-Me Institute, said he was pleased with the decision. Tuohey traveled to Branson to attend the meeting.

“The but-for analysis in this case was an affidavit from the developer, who said, ‘I won’t develop this without a subsidy,’” Tuohey said this morning. “That’s a pretty low standard.”

The plans for Branson Adventures called for a hotel, customizable whitewater rafting course and an indoor waterpark, among other amenities, on 302 acres adjacent to highways 76 and 376.

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