Metro government has done its part toward accommodating a first-ever water and snow park to locate in Nashville, with a key financial incentive clearing a final Metro Council vote Tuesday night.
The council voted 31-2 Tuesday to approve on the final of three votes a bill that delivers a 60 percent property tax abatement over 12 years to Gaylord Entertainment Inc. and Dollywood Co., which through a group called Park Holdings plan to build the new $50 million water and snow park near the former Opryland grounds. The tax break is valued at $5.8 million, but council members said the benefits far outweigh any downside.
“This will be a tremendous economic boon for the area,” said Councilman Phil Claiborne, who represents the nearby Music Valley business district, still rebuilding following the city’s devastating flood two years ago. “It’s a win-win for the city and everybody involved.”
The tax break, which originated from Mayor Karl Dean’s administration, cleared after no deliberation, with council members Duane Dominy and Josh Stites the lone no-votes.
Councilman Robert Duvall, who has expressed opposition against the plan, was absent for the vote. The council approved the proposal by a similar margin on second reading two weeks ago.
Construction on the new water and snow park –– situated on 114-acres of Gaylord-owned property –– is slated to begin in 2013. Dollywood officials expect the park to open in 2015.
Supporters of the plan have cited a report from the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research, which claims the new water and snow park will generate 1,900-plus construction jobs and 762 jobs from the park’s onsite activities.
Claiborne, referencing the same report, pointed out the park is projected to have an overall economic impact of $106 million during the construction phase and $66.9 million annually after it opens.
During deliberation two weeks ago, multiple council members spoke of the need to fill the vacuum created following the departure of Opryland in 2007.
“There are a ton of people in this city that think that we ought to have something like Opryland, and wished that it was back, and will be glad to see something like this for families –– regardless of how we get it,” At-large Councilman Tim Garrett said.
The council’s approval of the Gaylord/Dollywood deal is the latest in a series of property tax abatements Metro has awarded to companies in recent months. Others were delivered to Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America and LifePoint Inc., a hospital chain, in exchange for future investments.