Developers scale back plans for aviation museum

Saturday, February 16, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Developers of what initially was a $100 million aviation museum have scaled back their plans, hoping a more modest project will mean a greater chance of success.

The developers of the Legacy of Flight attraction shared their new plan with city and county officials Thursday. Among the changes: a smaller building -- 120,000 square feet instead of 325,000 -- and millions of dollars less in capital investment.

"That is much more reasonable, realistic, and much more feasible," said Greg Williams, the vice president of economic development for Springfield.

The city of Springfield, the Greene County Commission and City Utilities, and the Springfield Chamber of Commerce have been working for the past several months to bring the Legacy project to the Springfield area.

The project is spearheaded by Bob Ellis, director of the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Aviation Museum. He and a group of investors decided on a 40-acre site at Interstate 44 and U.S. 65 for the Legacy of Flight project, after the concept was spurned by some in Michigan.

Cut in half

The themed attraction would feature flight simulators, a full-motion theater and antique airplanes. It originally was touted as a $100 million-to-$120 million project. But after a market study, the project's size has been cut in half, to about $50 million.

The study, recently completed by Management Resources of California, predicted about 986,000 people would come the first year -- several hundred thousand less than the 1.3 million estimated in an earlier study.

The adjustments mean that a full-size aircraft carrier deck sketched into the original plans has been trimmed down, and a simulated English air base near London will be presented on a smaller scale, Ellis said.

The aviation museum also plans to bring less of its airplane collection from Kalamazoo. Instead of 40 planes, Ellis estimated 15 to 20 planes would be brought in on a rotating basis.

Still, the museum's expected to bring 150 full-time jobs to the area and have an economic impact of $80 million to $85 million, Legacy officials said.

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