Up to $10 million available in tax incentives to reopen Kentucky - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Up to $10 million available in tax incentives to reopen Kentucky Kingdom

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An aerial view of the building and rides remaining at Kentucky Kingdom. An aerial view of the building and rides remaining at Kentucky Kingdom.
Gil Lawson Gil Lawson
Ed Hart Ed Hart
Some of the empty tables at the March 29, 2013 public hearing. Some of the empty tables at the March 29, 2013 public hearing.

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - There could be up to $10 million in tax incentives if Louisville businessman Ed Hart and his Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company get the now defunct park up and running.

A public hearing was held Friday for anyone who wanted to give their opinion about what amount of those incentives, if any, Hart should get. No one showed up.

"It's not unusual," said Gil Lawson, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Tourism Cabinet spokesperson.

Public hearings are one step in the process for any future tourist attraction in the state of Kentucky to get a pay out from the Commonwealth. While not getting anyone to speak on the record about the incentives is not unique, Lawson said it is uncommon to go through the process three times. "I don't know that we've had three attempts basically on the same project."

This time, for the second time, it's Hart and his redevelopment group who are looking for some help from the state to get the park open. Less than a year ago, the Koch family who runs Holiday World in southern Indiana was approved for the incentives.

Lawson said the first time Hart pitched taking over the lease for Kentucky Kingdom, he never finished the study to get the money. That study reviews several different requirements, said Lawson, including "how many days the project will be open, where people will come from. There's a requirement that at least 25 percent (of visitors) come from out of state. Probably very important is the economic impact it has on the state."

If that impact is big enough, Lawson said the person running the attraction can get up to 10 million dollars over 10 years, but "it's based on their performance," he explained. "If they want to maximize the incentives then they need to do a good job of getting people to visit their park."

Final approval for the incentives is expected on April 10, about two weeks before the deadline to finalize the lease for Kentucky Kingdom. Hart has said he expects to reopen the park by May 2014.

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