FOLEY — A new venture along the Foley Beach Expressway is set to bring approximately 1,500 jobs to the area.
According to a development source who asked not to be identified, Blue Collar Country entertainment destination, named for the Blue Collar Comedy trio of Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy, is set to be housed on 520 acres that span from the Expressway to County Road 20 near Wolf Bay Lodge. With that will come about 450 construction jobs to make the first phase of the project a reality. That portion will consist of constructing a 220-acre multi-use development consisting of attractions, midway games, attractions for comedians, restaurants, hotels, a large RV resort and an indoor water-park resort.
The city of Foley could have a hand in a portion of that property, as well.
“Blue Collar should tie in nicely with what we’re trying to do,” City of Foley Economic Development Director Jeff Rouzie said.
He explained that, as previously reported, the city’s sights are set on building a 100,000 square-foot indoor complex that would be ideal for sports and other events, as well as 14 additional all sports fields for numerous activities. But the caveat is that the complex would be adjoined by two hotels.
“They would have to have a minimum of 250 hotel rooms,” Rouzie said, explaining that several hospitality groups have expressed interest. “Nothing has been finalized.”
Once it is finalized, he said, the sporting-event draw combined with Blue Collar Country, should be a boost to Foley.
“It should be good for our whole region and area,” Rouzie said.
According to Rouzie, developers chose Foley for the city’s ability to bring people in.
“Tanger, in 2011, had 6.4 million visitors,” he said.
While developers agree with that sentiment, which was supported by a feasibility study conducted by Troy University, those involved with the venture clarify that this will not be a theme park.
“It’s an entertainment destination and resort,” the development source said, explaining that there is no entry fee to the facility and visitors will be free to visit each facet of the resort on an individual basis.
Once the first phase of construction of Blue Collar Country, which will come in at just under $200 million, is complete in 2015, more than 1,300 permanent jobs will be created.
“There will be a substantial number of jobs,” the development source said.
Plans for the project began in late 2011 when developers started acquiring land from 11 different owners for the venture.
“It was an assemblage of property,” the development source said.
Construction work is already under way, as a structure is currently being set up.
“It’s really jobs offices and a preview center,” the development source said, adding that they should be erected in about two weeks.
But those are not the only preparations. As previously reported, the city has received funding from the Alabama Department of Transportation to extend Pride Drive to Juniper and make additional infrastructure improvements to County Road 20.
“That will be a major spine road to our facilities,” Rouzie said.
He also anticipates that the facility’s addition will actually proactive in alleviating traffic from Alabama Highway 59.
“I think you’ll see the Foley Beach Expressway much more heavily used,” Rouzie said.
More details about Blue Collar Country will be released in the coming weeks.