The authority gave final approval to plans by Ark Encounter, LCC for a theme park in Grant County with an investment of $172.5 million. The maximum incentive available would be $43.125 million over 10 years. The incentives come from the sales tax generated by the project.Two years later, the shovels are still sitting in the office (presumably in pairs) as the project has encountered numerous obstacles. But, fear not! Ark Encounter executives say they are forging ahead:
The authority heard a report from Hunden Strategic Partners that showed the Ark Encounter project met the criteria of the Kentucky Tourism Development Act, which includes requirements that the project attract at least 25 percent of visitors from outside the state by the fourth year of operation and that it has a positive impact on the Kentucky economy.
In an office park in Hebron, Kentucky, the designers of the proposed "Ark Encounter" theme park are trying to answer questions like these in order to build faith in the Bible's literal accuracy. The project has run into delays because of lack of financing, which could cost it millions in potential tax breaks. Despite the uncertainty, a recent Reuters preview of the project showed that plans for the ark are continuing.Old Testament attractions? A "Ten Plagues" ride? What repenting home-schooled child wouldn't love that?
"We're basically presenting what the Bible has to say and showing how plausible it was," said Patrick Marsh, design director for the park, which will feature a 500-foot-long wooden ark and other Old Testament attractions, including a Tower of Babel and a "Ten Plagues" ride. "This was a real piece of history - not just a story, not just a legend."
The project is currently in the design phase. Not enough private donations have come in to start construction, and building permits will not be ready until November, according to Ark Encounter co-founder and Senior Vice President Michael Zovath.
Nonetheless, they better get cracking and figure out exactly what gopher wood is because those tax incentives are set to expire in May 2014. It would take an act of God (or the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority) to get an extension.