REPUBLIC, Mo. — Monday night, Republic aldermen looked at the consideration of annexing of more than 1,200 acres of land. A developer wants to build a multi-million dollar equestrian center. The property is located near the James River Freeway and Highway MM interchange. The blue prints include an arena for horse shows and concerts.
This same idea was shot down in Christian County last April before it ever got off the ground, but Monday Republic residents welcomed it with open arms.
Republic Mayor Brian Buckner said he hasn’t had any calls from people opposing the project, “I haven’t heard a word,” Buckner said. “There’s a lot of sporadic housing out there. We’re not talking about a development that will take up every square foot of property out there, like a strip mall.”
A second reading and vote is scheduled for Jan. 23. City officials say the Eclipse project backers have not asked for any incentives from the city.
Councilman Jeff Clinkingbeard echoed the mayor, saying he hasn’t received any calls opposing the project.
“Most of the comments I’ve heard are ‘Is this really going to happen’?” he said. “I’m confident we are a good location for big projects. Republic grew 74 percent since the last census, and we’re over 15,000 people now. We’re excited for Republic that this Eclipse Center could happen.”
If the annexations and rezoning efforts go off smoothly, project founder Carl Scott said construction could begin quickly, with most of the extensive facilities completed within three years.
Designed to appeal to horse lovers, the project features:
» a 15,000-seat arena for horse shows and music concerts
» two smaller arenas
» 60 cottages
» a 300-room Eclipse Lodge
» 30 11-unit condos
» 3,500 horse stalls
» an 11-mile cross-country riding course, horse stables and practice area
» a 20-acre man-made lake that will capture natural runoff instead of using wells to keep it filled
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a 100-pad RV park
» a truck stop with motel and two restaurants at the intersection of MM and Sawyer Road
The project comes with a hefty development price tag. Scott said a hedge fund has agreed to provide $290 million to build the facilities and $60 million over three years to pay for its operating expenses.
The hedge fund will have a 15 percent ownership stake in the project, Scott said.
At the end of six years, the hedge fund would seek repayment of its $350 million investment, plus 15 percent of the appraised value of the project, representing its ownership share.
That could amount to a lump sum payment of about $500 million, Scott said.
He said project organizers believe the Eclipse Events Center will net about $70 million a year, but said the business might need to seek a loan or initiate a public stock sale at the end of six years to pay off the hedge fund’s investment.
“Once the facility is up and built, it will be a lot easier to attract money and investors,” he said.
The project already has more than two dozen local investors who have contributed about $1.5 million toward the project, Scott said.
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