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The Branson Board of Aldermen is scheduled to vote next month on incentives for the proposed Aquarium at the Boardwalk.
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The Branson Board of Aldermen is scheduled to vote next month on incentives for the proposed Aquarium at the Boardwalk.

Branson aquarium clears TIF Commission hurdle

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Los Angeles-based Kuvera Partners cleared a key hurdle in its plans to open an aquarium attraction in Branson.

With approval from the city’s Tax Increment Financing Commission on Jan. 17, the vote on incentives for the proposed Aquarium at the Boardwalk moves to the Branson Board of Aldermen on Feb. 12. With aldermen approval, Kuvera Partners affiliate Branson Entertainment Center expects the attraction — at 2700 W. 76 Country Blvd. on the Branson Strip — would open in spring 2020, according to a news release from the company.

To make the $51 million project a reality, Kuvera Partners is seeking $7 million in TIF assistance, or 13.7 percent of the project cost. The attraction is planned at the former Grand Palace property that Kuvera Partners bought for $2.7 million in 2014. Officials have said the attraction is not feasible without the TIF incentives.

Plans call for a 46,000-square-foot aquarium attraction with a boardwalk theme that takes visitors “under the sea” for views of marine animals. A rendering of the attraction shows a giant octopus facing the 76 Strip.

“We have every confidence that this project will be successful and that it will be the catalyst for us to develop the remainder of the Grand Palace property, which will not receive any TIF assistance,” said Tej Sundher, partner at Kuvera, in the release. “That means all tax revenues generated from additional development will go directly to the schools and other taxing districts.”

Saint Paul, Minnesota-based Springsted Inc., the city of Branson’s third-party financial adviser, issued a “but-for determination report” that found there are $9.5 million in eligible TIF expenses for the aquarium project. Kuvera officials expect the TIF to retire in 15 years, before the 23-year statutory TIF period, according to the release.

Kuvera also pledged to fund 29.4 percent of the project’s costs up-front, with the rest coming from the potential TIF funding and a loan that’s already secured.

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