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2008-10-25 – Texas, Usa: Mega Paleo-parco tematico in progettazione (EarthQuest, dinosaur-themed project)

Pronto progetto per un nuovo grande parco tematico dedicato ai Dinosauri a Houston, nel Texas.

Prevista costruzione a cavallo della statale 59, con l’area ad est dedicata allo studio e all’esposizione dei reperti, e quella ad ovest invece all’intrattenimento dei visitatori.


What is EarthQuest?: Unearthing the massive dinosaur-themed project

Kingwood Observer

Updated: 10.22.08

To describe the new EarthQuest development planned for U.S. Highway 59 as solely an amusement park or a dinosaur museum would be wrong.
“All the details are designed to show how people can live without destroying the environment,” Lessem said. “Would this be done by Disney, this would be driven by commerce. Our brand is nature and we want to celebrate the beauty of the environment.”
Lessem reiterated that the project is not a replacement for Houston’s old Six Flags AstroWorld that closed its doors in 2005, but a completely new entertainment experience.
Also planned for EarthQuest’s western development are three hotel sites, a zoo, ropes course, retail entertainment zone and treehouse lodging. The retail and entertainment zone is said to be similar to the Universal Studios City Walk in Los Angeles with retail shopping, dining and live music.
To the east of U.S. 59 is a residential community that will have about 1,500 single family homes, according to the developer John Marlin of Marlin-Atlantis, the company that owns the 1,600 acres for the proposed site. The homes and the institute will work hand-in-hand by allowing researchers and scientists to implement green technology directly into the homes. This will give researchers a testing ground in their own back yard to see if new implementations are effective. According to an interview with Marlin, he said the home sites will be a 15- to 20-year project.

The idea for this monstrous dinosaur project was the original conception of Lessem. Lessem said he had been working on the project five to six years before the East Montgomery County Improvement District came into the picture. He began the search for a location to build his facility, eventually deciding on East Montgomery County.

The New Caney area beat out 74 communities from 19 states, according to Frank McCrady, EMCID president and CEO. The original idea was a 50-acre site for the museum and institute. The project snowballed from there after EMCID hired Baker-Leisure, a consulting and management company for theme parks out of Orlando, to conduct a demographics study of the Houston area.

“Our conclusion was that Houston is a very strong market,” said Doug Rutledge, vice president of business development at Baker-Leisure. “Houston is one of the last major metropolitan statistical areas that lacks a major theme park or an amusement park.”

Rutledge concluded that Houston was a “strong destination” that would set it apart from other markets.

Following Rudledge’s study, McCrady said all signs pointed to a combined museum institute and entertainment destination. That was October 2007.

“The biggest transition we made was going from a museum to a full-blown destination resort,” McCrady said. “It’s continuing to build; it gets bigger every day.”

The project, though, might not have even gotten off the ground had the New Caney Fire Department decided to increase the sales tax from the current half a penny to one cent. The EMCID board feared the increase in sales tax might drive away the developers of EarthQuest and ultimately the whole project. To compensate the fire department, EMCID issued New Caney FD a unique loan.

“They offered to provide us with $1.5 million for the next five years,” said New Caney FD Chief Jeff Taylor. “We would not have to pay it back until the tenth year.”

According to the guidelines, the fire department is required to pay EMCID back the interest-free loan assuming there is substantial growth in the area. Assuming the dinosaur park goes through, there should be enough revenue generated to repay the loan. If there is not growth, then the department does not have to repay the loan.

“It’s a win-win for the residents,” Taylor said. “One way or the other, the residents benefit from EMS and fire.”

McCrady said a meeting tentatively scheduled for Nov. 13 at the EMCID Complex in New Caney will bring EarthQuest’s details into even more perspective when Lessem and others will show off their designs.

EMCID has also set a target date of Dec. 12 to attain $7 million in bonds for the development of the western portion of the project.

The EMCID board is loaning Marlin-Atlantis the $7 million for pre-development costs of the construction, according to McCrady. The expenses include fees for accounting, engineering, design and master planning.

The EMCID board will be repaid half of the bond once Marlin takes out the construction loan. McCrady said the construction loan is expected to close summer to fall 2009. The remaining $3.5 million will be paid five years after the construction loan closes in 2014.

The EarthQuest Institute, which was originally going to be helped by $50 million from EMCID, is going to run and be financed as a nonprofit entity. The fundraising needed for the institute has yet to get underway, according to Michael Dimengo, the president of Sage Fundraising Solutions LLC. The firm, based out of Jacksonville, Fla., is in charge of raising the $80 to $100 million needed for the project.

“This is a huge green initiative with a study of the earth and its past,” Dimengo said. “We are just in the preliminary stages of the fundraising.”

Sage is in the process of identifying people for an advisory board to oversee the fundraising.

Lessem and his design team of more than 100 people are deep in the development phase for the institute. Lessem said they are in “a second phase of design to be finished in a month’s time.” Lessem hopes to have a website for the EarthQuest Institute up and running soon.

The Marlin-Atlantis team is finalizing their plans as well with regards to the for-profit part of EarthQuest.

“We’ve never done a project like this,” Marlin said. “Things are going very well and we are on schedule.”


 (click the link to see the map)




ottobre 25, 2008 - Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, America Northern, Italiano (riassunto), Paleontology / Paleontologia, Parchi tematici | , , , , , , , , ,

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