Branson takes another step toward transforming the strip, by unveiling updated renderings for the "Spirit of 76" project. Engineers and architects held an open house at the Factory Merchants Mall, Tuesday night, helping answer questions and get public input.
"It's not Orlando, it's not Las Vegas, it's Branson," says Project Manager Sabin Yanez, "It's faith, it’s family, it's is patriotism it's all of those things."
Yanez says it was important for Branson’s Board of Aldermen that the new design take the city's values and heritage into account. He says the entire project, from the park benches to the trolley stops, are aimed at making the strip a destination of its own.
"It's really an opportunity that will entice people, it will excite their opportunity to go explore," says Yenez.
Construction on the 5 miles strip wont happen all at once, it will be rolled out in 13 different phases. The eventual goal is to allow families and visitors to take in the signs and sounds of Branson on 15 foot wide sidewalks.
"I think we've had more vacant property on 76 than we've every had before," says CEO of Track Family Fun Parks, Larry Schmitt, "in all honesty it's kind of a tired product."
Larry Schmitt is also part of "Project Branson," an organization that represents 24 business owners on highway 76.
"I think whatever we do, we need to hit a home run, we need it to have that wow factor," says Schmitt, "we need it to be so good that when people see it, they go home and tell their friends and family."
Steve Presley also believes a fun and family themed corridor is the future of Branson.
"Get to where people can walk up and down 76 and be entertained, not only outside businesses but inside," says Presley.
The strip will stay 3 lanes wide, but the extended corridor will take away parking and some access points for shows like the Presley’s Country Jubilee. However, the entertainer says the small sacrifice is worth it, helping spur tourism and future development.
"It will snowball, I really believe it will snowball," says Presley, "over the next 10 years we're going to see such a major change and we're excited about it."
The master plan will go before the city for approval next week. Project Manager Sabin Yanez hopes to break ground on the first phase by the summer of 2015.
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