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Council approves improvement plan
KINGSLAND -- The Kingsland City Council unanimously approved a Community Improvement District plan at Monday's meeting that puts the city one step closer to bringing a $300 million entertainment and retail development to town.

Councilman Jim McClain compared the council's approval of the district to getting the keys to "start the engine of the development."

"There is a lot ahead of us," he said. "This makes the property marketable."

The goal is to transform the Interstate 95 interchange at exit 3 into a destination shopping center for Southeast Georgia, while creating more than 1,200 jobs.

Minneapolis-based developer Real Development Corp. is working on specific plans for the 575-acre site. Tentative plans for what is being called Kingsland Adventure Park include a hotel, conference center, water park, go-cart track, miniature golf, zip line and ropes course, outdoor amphitheater, bowling lanes, restaurants and theaters, all surrounded by a host of shops and businesses.

Developer Bill Gross, the property owner, said the vote gives the city the opportunity to move the project forward.

"This was a key step tonight," Gross said. "It's great news. It's huge news."

Approval of the plan gives the district the ability to impose taxes on itself while creating no liability against local and state governments if the project fails.

Councilman Alex Blount proposed creating a seven-person board, with three members from the city and four from the development.

"I want to bring expertise to the city," he said. "This will give us a good base to work off of."

Mayor Ken Smith said the development is attracting lots of interest and he was encouraged by the council's vote.

"There are folks beyond us who are looking at this area," he said.

The next steps are to convince the county and school board to approve the project because of tax breaks that could be offered to the developer. City officials are also creating a development agreement that will outline details of the project.

* Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at, on Facebook or at 464-7655.

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