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Family-focused $350 million amusement park planned for Lake of the Ozarks

 An artist's rendering shows plans for the Oasis at Lakeport at Lake of the Ozarks. Plans for the lakefront development include a Ferris wheel, a hotel and boat slips.
Oasis at Lakeport
Developers' rendering of the planned Oasis at Lakeport. The Osage Beach Board of Aldermen this month approved redevelopment plans for the entertainment district.

A $350 million amusement park near the Lake of the Ozarks could be up and running within a year.

The Osage Beach Board of Aldermen last week approved a redevelopment plan for the project off Highway 54 near the Grand Glaize Bridge. The plan locks in financing for the entertainment district, called the Oasis at Lakeport.

Plans for the 25-acre lakefront property include restaurants, a Ferris wheel, a waterpark with a retractable roof and a 400-room Marriott hotel.

Lake of the Ozarks needs more offerings for kids and families, said Jeff Tegethoff, CEO of St. Louis-based Tegethoff Development, one of the partners of the project.

“It’s no secret that there's been some amazing development done at the lake over the last decade,” he said. “But it seems to be all pretty adult-focused, with these restaurants and these big swim-up bar pools and things like that. It seems like the kids’ pool is always an afterthought.”

The redevelopment allows the plan to be financed with tax increment financing, which captures the increased tax revenue generated by the development and diverts that money into the project.

The future site is on property owned by businessman Fred Ross, of the powerboat purveyor Big Thunder Marine. Ross, Tegethoff and another developer, SkyView Partners, made plans to open the entertainment district.

The development “will offer year-round attractions and entertainment for everyone at the lake to enjoy,” said Todd Schneider, a managing partner at SkyView. The developers “are committed to keeping the Osage Beach community informed of our progress over the next year as Oasis grows to be the premiere tourist destination of the Midwest.”

The Board of Aldermen’s approval of the redevelopment plan means demolition and construction can begin immediately. Builders hope the amusement park will be open next summer, with the water park and hotel operating by 2026.

However, the development could hit a snag in the future — Tegethoff said about 1,000 owners of timeshare properties called the Lakewood Resort that sit on the site of the planned water park have so far rejected an offer to sell them off as a batch.

During a Board of Aldermen meeting last month on the plan, some members of the board and the public raised concerns about the future development and its effects on traffic and the timeshare communities.

The ordinance passed last week also designates the property — including the Lakewood Resort buildings — as being in “blighted” condition.

Nathan Rinne, a member of the Facebook group Citizens for a Better Camden County, said he opposes the ordinance.

“It’s the principle of the thing — these people didn’t ask to be blighted,” said Rinne, who does not live in Osage Beach but said he’s “super active politically.”

“The ethical thing to do would be to buy the property before you blight it,” he said. “If they do it to them, who's to say they wouldn’t do it again?”

Alderman Richard Ross said during a June 1 meeting that he had heard several people were excited to sell their timeshare properties.

“There’s some implications out there on social media and so forth that we’re being big brothers and people are going to get thrown out,” he said. “To this day no one has spoken against this from the timeshare community.”

Paula Daube, who lives in Plainview, Illinois, and owns a two-week share at the Lakewood Resort, said she and other residents were not getting much information from the resort’s management about the future of the property. She became curious about the future of the property when she was nearby trees being cut down and mulched.

“We don’t know if we’re just going to get shut down out of here,” she said. “The money is just one part of it [though]. It’s just a nice place: small, homey. Everyone is just disheartening, and we’re all so sad about it.”

The development has garnered support from statewide officials including Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, who said last year the development could bring hundreds of jobs to central Missouri.

Sarah is the health reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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