Ark Encounter gets preliminary approval for tourism tax breaks - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ark Encounter gets preliminary approval for tourism tax breaks

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The tourism development finance authority discusses the proposal in their meeting. The tourism development finance authority discusses the proposal in their meeting.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It appears to be anchors aweigh for the ark park as the state granted preliminary approval today for tax breaks for a Noah's Ark theme park in northern Kentucky.

The arc encounter theme park is a project by the people who built the Creation Museum and construction could start as early as next week.

It will be a $73 million life-size replica of Noah's Ark as described in the bible. It would be built on 200 acres in Grant County.

“It will be the largest timber-frame structure in the country, probably in the world” Project director Mike Zovath said, “we do not know of any timber-frame structure larger.”

But to help launch the project, the Arc Encounter is asking the tourism development finance authority to approve up to $18 million in sales tax rebates over 10 years.

The project director said the arc will be a boon to tourism, attracting 1.5 million visitors a year.

“This has a huge economic impact for the local community, for the city and county, and for the state.” Zovath said.

The tourism finance authority panel approved the measure 6-0, with the chairman saying there was no concern about any possible issue of church-state separation.

“Actually, we do not address that at all,” authority chairman Keith Williams said. “What we address is tourism in the state of Kentucky. What our initial application was to address, and what we reviewed in that application was simply how it impacts tourism in the state of Kentucky.”

While the state's goal is tourism revenue, developers admit aim is to present the gospel.

“That has not hidden through anything we have said or we have put on our website.” Zovath added, “We are not going to take your ticket and not let you leave the park until you convert.”

The panel is expected to give final approval in about two months after a review by an independent consultant.

The ark is scheduled to be finished in 2016.

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