The Board of Aldermen has voted unanimously to approve Tax Increment Funding (TIF) for the proposed $51m Branson Aquarium, also known as the Aquarium at the Boardwalk.
If the TIF ordinances are formally adopted during the Board’s second reading on Tuesday (February 26), Kuvera Partners, who also operate Branson’s Hollywood Wax Museum, will be able to move forward with the Branson Aquarium.
The attraction will take visitors on a walking journey through the oceans of the world. It will provide views of colourful fish, seahorses, octopi, and sharks.
Kuvera Partners will complete the $51 million project in phases. The 46,000-square-foot attraction is located on the site of the Grand Palace in Branson, Missouri. The company bought the former theatre four years ago.
Branson aquarium funding
Through its affiliated entity, Branson Entertainment Center – Branson, LLC, Kuvera plans to finance the Aquarium at the Boardwalk with $15 million (29.4%) of its own equity, $29 million (56.9%) in debt equity, and $7 million (13.7%) in TIF assistance.
“If TIF is approved, we’re ready to go,” said partner Tej Sundher. “The remaining financing is in place, and we’ve been doing everything possible to break ground for the project right away.”
The exterior of the aquarium will be modelled as an enormous octopus. Inside, guests can control a colour-changing environment in the Jelly Fish Infinity Room. They can also travel through a tunnel in the heart of the attraction into a sunken ancient city.
Meanwhile, Mermaid Palace will be a themed area featuring schooling fish, seahorses, and butterfly fish. There will also be a touch pool and a coral reef. In addition there will be a photo opportunity with a high-tech diving suit, or inside a fish bowl.
A themed kids play area is also planned. Children will be able to scale a replica of the ocean’s giant jellyfish – a sea nettle – inside a 14-foot, net-enclosed climber. There will also be a slide “through a swarm of spiny Lionfish”.
A thriving attraction
“We are thrilled to be this close to having the opportunity to clean up the Grand Palace property and create an exciting, thriving attraction that aligns with the City’s vision for this key entertainment zone,” added Sundher.
“Working with the City of Branson’s staff through this process has been tremendous. We’ve been continually impressed with their thorough approach and open communication with us, leading to a TIF agreement that is a real win-win.”
According to Kuvera, the aquarium hopes to bring new visitors to Branson. The company also has plans to develop the site over the next ten years. However, it will not seek additional TIF funding for future phases.
If final TIF approval is granted, Branson Aquarium is scheduled to open in spring 2020.