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Developer plans hotel at vacant Branson West project site

Progress is slow at 3-year-old The Ridge at Table Rock Lake

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Developers have long had big ideas for some 800 acres overlooking Table Rock Lake in Branson West. And the latest group is now looking to build a hotel at the site seven years after it acquired the land.

Mark Troen, senior vice president for Brookwood Group, a national real estate development, planning and management consulting firm, said Colorado-based MD&D Investments LLC wants to build a 102-room hotel on a 4-acre parcel at the planned mixed-use development, The Ridge at Table Rock Lake. The dual-branded hotel could open as soon as next year, he said.

Brookwood Group has worked the past three years on behalf of MD&D Investments to secure investors and developers for the 810-acre development it has owned since 2014, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

The development sits on land that was the site of the failed Indian Ridge Resort project in 2008. Indian Ridge’s plan, which was in excess of $1.6 billion and plagued by financial and legal problems, never developed beyond roughly a dozen residential properties that were abandoned when members of the development team were sentenced with federal environmental violations and real estate fraud.

“Our hope is at some point this year, we’ll be able to break ground for this hotel,” Troen said, noting the project’s cost estimate is yet to be determined. “We think it would be a great addition.”

Troen said he was unable to provide the possible hotel brands while negotiations continue for the project, which also calls for two retail or restaurant establishments on the 4-acre parcel. If groundbreaking occurs this year, he said the hotel’s targeted opening is late next year or early 2023. The project would occupy the development’s northeast corner at the intersection of Highway 76 and Ridge Crest Parkway, which leads into The Ridge, he said.

“Given that it is just one and a half miles from the Silver Dollar City entrance and our property basically abuts it, it’s a great play,” he said.

The proposed hotel comes three years after a groundbreaking ceremony at the Highway 76 intersection that MD&D Investments spent over $1 million to upgrade with a traffic signal and turn lane. The Missouri Department of Transportation completed the intersection work in early 2019, Troen said. He declined to estimate planned development costs for MD&D Investments.

The developer obtained the property through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which acquired it by sealed bid years after the Indian Ridge plan failed in 2008, according to past reporting.

The Branson West Board of Aldermen approved a plat for the proposed hotel project late last year, said City Administrator Kenny Smith. The plat was recorded March 17 by the Stone County Recorder of Deeds office, officials say. Troen said Miami-based DPZ CoDesign completed initial site concept plans for the project, which was designed by Wisconsin-based Architectural Design Consultants Inc. However, a general contractor and architect is yet to be selected, he said.

Smith said the city hasn’t had any recent discussions with The Ridge at Table Rock Lake’s development group.

“We have not had any submitted building permits for hotels at this time,” he said. “Not much activity took place in any direction last year.”

A website dedicated to the Branson West development promotes expansive plans that call for residential and commercial properties in addition to entertainment, hospitality and health care facilities. Troen said there are a number of ongoing conversations with potential development partners for commercial, residential and extended stay opportunities, declining to elaborate.

“The good news is that in light of the [coronavirus] pandemic, the interest now has come back where people want to hopefully get beyond the challenges,” he said, regarding real estate investments. “We’re getting the benefit of that.”

Smith and Troen said the abandoned Indian Ridge homes that sit on adjacent acreage to The Ridge at Table Rock Lake aren’t owned by MD&D Investments. Branson Endeavors LLC owns the roughly 25-acre area acquired at auction, Troen said.

The residential properties recently garnered over 15 million views on social media platform TikTok, when an Arkansas attorney posted a video from outside a moving vehicle of the abandoned Indian Ridge project. The Stone County Sheriff’s Office responded April 6 with a warning on its Facebook page that discouraged people visiting the private property could be cited for trespassing. Sheriff Doug Rader said in the post that “there has been a constant stream of people walking down in the development all weekend.”

While activity at The Ridge at Table Rock Lake has been sparse since its 2018 inception, both Troen and Smith remain optimistic about the development’s prospects once the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic begins to fade from view.

Troen cited the pandemic as a key contributor to the development’s challenges over the past year.

“We’ve lost a year. Everybody lost a year in the pandemic,” he said. “Otherwise, I think we’d have been in a different position.”

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