FOLEY, Ala. (WALA) - Developers said the relatively empty drive down the Foley Beach Expressway will soon get a facelift with the addition of Blue Collar Country. They said the roughly $200 million 'entertainment destination' will have hotels, amusement rides, an RV park and restaurants.
Work has already begun on its welcome center, set to open in a matter of weeks. Unlike theme parks, there won't be an entry price - you will pay as you go.
Some we talked to are skeptical all this will come to fruition.
"I'll believe it when I see it," said a viewer. "I just thought it was a story, but it would be nice. I'm hoping, I'm like 50/50, on the fence, you know?"
FOX10 News took those concerns to the developers. Those close the project represent Jeff Foxworthy, the Blue Collar guys and singer Tony Orlando.
Two days went by and no one wanted to go on-camera, but they did promise a major announcement to be forth-coming.
FOX10 News did some research our own, stopping by Foley City Hall to make a public records request regarding Blue Collar Country. We wanted to find out if any contracts have been signed or if paperwork has changed hands. We were told nothing is currently available, meaning nothing is set in stone.
Baldwin County Commissioner Tucker Dorsey has been in close contact with the developers.
"I know the questions were asked early enough on the table, 'Do you all have the wherewithal to pull this off?' Obviously, it takes a lot of work to pull off a project this size," Dorsey said. "They've been diligent in that. They've been very transparent in their operation in talking about where they are with regards to land acquisitions, financing and needs and wants and desires and all the components they need to get it put together. Last I heard, they're getting pretty close to being at the starting line."
That'd make them closer than they were roughly two years ago. For the same project, sources told FOX10 News the group tried, to no avail, to purchase The Wharf.
Developers said this project will be financed using bonds, institutional or bank-financing and a state grant - the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP).
ATRIP sends more than $15 million, going to projects improving Baldwin County roads.
"The primary benefit of having the approval of ATRIP is to improve our traffic needs and build highway infrastructure in areas that need traffic relief, and it can also be a support to the project as it comes online," Dorsey said.
The more than 500 acres of Blue Collar Country could also play host to an events center and 14 multi-use sports fields, shared by Foley, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.
Funding them would hinge on the entertainment destination.
Those close to the project say the big announcement regarding Blue Collar Country should come at the end of May. If the project moves forward, it would be open for business in two to three years.
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