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TALKING TIFS: The Branson Board of Aldermen is in preliminary TIF discussions for a proposed aquarium.
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TALKING TIFS: The Branson Board of Aldermen is in preliminary TIF discussions for a proposed aquarium.

2018 Year In Review: 6. One TIF door closes, another opens in Branson

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BRANSON—After submitting a proposal in August, the Branson Board of Aldermen on Dec. 11 authorized the city to conduct preliminary discussions on tax-increment financing with the developer of the proposed Aquarium at the Boardwalk.

Los Angeles-based Kuvera Partners purchased the Grand Palace property, 2700 W. 76 Country Blvd., in 2014 for $2.7 million, and plans to transform the property into a 46,000-square-foot aquarium attraction with a boardwalk theme that takes visitors “under the sea” for views of marine animals.

The group is seeking $7 million in TIF assistance, which is 13.7 percent of the estimated $51 million project.

Kuvera’s request is the second major TIF project reviewed by the city this year.

Aldermen voted 5-1 in April to deny a $446 million resort financing proposal by Branson Adventures. The developers, led by David Cushman of CP Branson LLC, sought $115.6 million in public funds, largely through property and sales tax revenues.

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

He added, “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.”

The TIF denial left Branson Adventures considering its options, as Cushman said in early May the next step was uncertain. He said, at the time, plans could include downsizing the funding proposal or taking the project to another city. No further plans have surfaced.

The resolution approved this month by the Branson Board of Alderman for the Aquarium at the Boardwalk project allows Mayor Karen Best to sign a term sheet with Branson Entertainment Center, said city spokeswoman Melody Pettit. The board held a first reading on the term sheet resolution on Nov. 27.

Pettit said the exploration of potential taxpayer funding is in the early stages, and with the Dec. 11 vote, the city’s TIF commission continues to examine Kuvera Partners’ proposal.

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