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Kuvera Partners has plans to redevelop the vacant Grand Palace into an attraction dubbed Aquarium at the Boardwalk.
Rendering provided by Kuvera Partners
Kuvera Partners has plans to redevelop the vacant Grand Palace into an attraction dubbed Aquarium at the Boardwalk.

TIF for Grand Palace redevelopment under review

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The owners of the long-vacant Grand Palace in Branson are waiting to hear back on a tax-increment financing proposal for their redevelopment plans of the former theater.

Los Angeles-based Kuvera Partners, which in 2014 bought the property for $2.7 million, intends to convert the Grand Palace, 2700 W. 76 Country Blvd., into an attraction dubbed Aquarium at the Boardwalk. The budget for the plans were not included in a news release.

“Redeveloping the Grand Palace site with an aquarium is without a doubt the most impactful way to reactivate this key section of the Highway 76 strip,” said Tej Sundher, a partner with Kuvera Partners, in the release. “We’ve gained excellent insight through eight rounds of consumer testing with H2R Market Research over the last three years and all of the data pointed us here.”

The plans call on a 46,000-square-foot aquarium attraction where, Sundher said, Kuvera Partners is “creating the atmosphere of a classic boardwalk and then taking you under the sea to explore, play and capture great photos, along with enjoying spectacular views of a wide variety of sea animals.”

Kuvera Partners, which also owns the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center in Branson, is working with St. Louis-based attractions designer PGAV Destinations on Aquarium at the Boardwalk.

Reached via email, Kuvera Partners Corporate Communications Director Aileen Stein said the company presented an overview of the project on Aug. 23 to the Branson Board of Alderman. The company separately submitted a TIF proposal for the project, which Stein said is “currently being reviewed by the city’s special legal counsel and financial advisers.”

City of Branson spokeswoman Melody Pettit said the city’s economic development attorney is conducting the review. Springfield Business Journal emailed a Missouri Sunshine Law request to receive a copy of the TIF application. 

The Branson board earlier this year denied a TIF proposal that was at the center of plans for the $446 million Branson Adventures resort that had been proposed in the city. The board in April denied the TIF proposal, leading the developer to consider other options or take the project elsewhere, according to past SBJ reporting.

“We’ve been doing our best to work with the city’s staff and consultants to narrowly tailor our request for assistance to meet the specific needs of the proposed project,” Sundher said in the release. “We believe that our request is aligned with the city’s policies regarding appropriate use of economic development incentives.

“Without this assistance from the city, the proposed project is not economically feasible.”

Sundher said plans call for construction to begin early next year to open the aquarium in March 2020.

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