MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – A massive recreation and entertainment district, which leaders hope will change the narrative of the River Region, will be built in west Montgomery near Maxwell Air Force Base.
The Montgomery County Commission held a briefing Friday to share details about what is called “Project Catalyst.” The County Commission Chair Elton Dean says this will be a $50 million project.
“It is going to revitalize that I-65 corridor as it passes through Montgomery, Alabama,” said Montgomery County Commission Vice Chairman Ronda Walker.
It is being financed, according to the commission, through a public/private partnership with approximately $35 million of that being contributed by Montgomery County. The City of Montgomery is also contributing land with an estimated value of approximately $16 million. There are also state and other private sources contributing funding.
The 120-acre park will be located on Maxwell Boulevard adjacent to the Alabama River west of Interstate 65. It will be built in what is now Powder Magazine Park. It will be situated between the interstate bridge and the existing MAFB school. Plans show the park will also feature two entrances - one leading to a main parking lot and whitewater center and the other to the parking lot of the hotel and conference center.
“This will be something not just for our residents but for those tourists traveling up and down 65. It will give them a reason to pull off and stay a night or two in Montgomery,” said Walker.
The inside of the park will contain things like a conference center complete with a catering kitchen, hotel and meeting facilities. There will also be a climbing tower, bouldering wall, canopy high ropes course, beer garden with additional concessions, retail shopping and an amphitheater.
Outside the main park, there will be a 5K hike and bike trail with paths connecting to downtown and the Air Force base.
County leaders say the district will host numerous festivals, competitions and weekly activities for all ages. A national professional outdoor recreation management team will operate the facility.
Local leaders hope the project will “energize a new era of talent, opportunity and vibrancy in Montgomery.” They are considering this a “quality of life” project - something leaders say is needed and will make Montgomery a destination.
“These quality of life projects are becoming more and more prevalent and needed,” Mayor Todd Strange said. “When we go to economic development conferences, they talk about these quality of life projects in the same breath that they talked about industrial development.”
Strange says these projects will create jobs both inside the park and through construction and boost local revenue.
Construction is set to begin in the fall of 2020 and the district is expected to open spring 2022.