larrygator Posted February 22, 2020 Share Posted February 22, 2020 It is nice to see the local authorities getting involved with Indiana Beach. Besides FunSpot, there may be another potential buyer, Ronald Gerstorff, the owner of Slick Track, a go-kart business out of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Gerstoff told the Journal & Courier he was “blown away” after hearing the initial news of Indiana Beach’s closure, as he had been trying to get in touch with Apex a little over a year before the park closed, interested in purchasing it and taking over operations. “If they shoot me an offer, I would purchase it right now,” Gerstoff said. https://www.jconline.com/story/news/2020/02/21/indiana-beach-potential-buyers-emerge-monticello-mayor-owner-say-hopes-amusement-park-still-alive/4829720002/ Indiana Beach: Potential buyers emerge, city and owner say future for amusement park still alive Emily DeLetter, Journal & Courier Published 6:47 p.m. ET Feb. 21, 2020 | Updated 11:36 p.m. ET Feb. 21, 2020 MONTICELLO – Indiana Beach is up for sale, and the city and county that are home to the much-beloved amusement park are hoping to find a new buyer. White County and the city of Monticello will assist Apex Parks Group, a California-based company that has owned Indiana Beach since 2015, in meeting with amusement industry leaders, brokers and investors in hopes of finding a buyer for the park, Monticello Mayor Cathy Gross said Friday. White County Commissioner John Heimlich said he wanted the public to know that discussions about the future of Indiana Beach were ongoing. Apex Parks Group announced Tuesday to White County officials it was closing the popular Indiana Beach amusement park that has operated on Lake Shafer since 1926.Buy Photo Apex Parks Group announced Tuesday to White County officials it was closing the popular Indiana Beach amusement park that has operated on Lake Shafer since 1926. “We want to see the Beach continue to operate, and Apex would like to see that, too,” Heimlich said. “We’ll just have to see what happens.” The 94-year-old park along the shores of Lake Shafer closed abruptly Tuesday, a few months before it was supposed to open for the 2020 season, a move that shocked residents and local officials. Calls and emails throughout the week to both Apex and Indiana Beach were not returned. In a statement Friday, Gary Fawks, general manager of Indiana Beach said, “Since purchasing the resort in 2015, we have invested in infrastructure, rides and maintenance at the well-loved park. Despite these efforts, we have not seen an improvement in operating results. The decision to cease operations was not taken lightly.” Randy Mitchell, White County economic development director, said Gregg Borman, senior vice president of operations with Apex, told him the company was closing Indiana Beach because of financial reasons. Apex also shut down SpeedZone in Texas and Fantasy Island in New York, according to media reports. Mitchell said the economic development office was working on keeping Indiana Beach going and was in the process of trying to find an investor or partner who would be interested in taking over the park’s operations. On Friday, Mitchell said he didn’t have any information on if or when rides would be disassembled, although he was previously informed that Apex would be disassembling rides in the spring. The park’s website was updated to notify guests it is permanently closed, with a link to a questionnaire regarding accommodations and camping, groups and birthdays and season passes. As of Friday, Apex and Indiana Beach had not confirmed whether guests who had purchased season passes, which were on sale as recently as Christmas, would receive refunds. Calls for refunds continued through the end of the week, with confusion and frustration from those who already put money up for Indiana Beach entertainment and couldn’t get anyone to answer phone calls. It wasn’t clear how many season passes – along with deals on food and drinks – Indiana Beach had sold for the 2020 season. Joe Wurl has had a camper at the Indiana Beach campgrounds since 1999, where he and the family go to spend days off between May and October. Wurl said he paid $3,000 for his camping spot and a place to leave his camper for the 2020 season. Wurl said he was anxious for a refund. But he said he also needed to know if and when he needed to get the camper – a project that meant hiring a truck to haul a wide load to another location. “I’d like to get my money back,” Wurl said. “But more than anything, I just want to know what’s going on.” A Facebook post from Fun Spot America, a group of theme parks based in Florida and Georgia, hinted interest in Indiana Beach, responding to a comment that a Fun Spot executive was on a plane Thursday to Indianapolis. John Chidester, vice president of marketing for Fun Spot America, acknowledged the Facebook post, but said he was not able to confirm any news connecting Fun Spot and Indiana Beach. Another interested potential buyer is Ronald Gerstorff, the owner of Slick Track, a go-kart business out of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Gerstoff told the Journal & Courier he was “blown away” after hearing the initial news of Indiana Beach’s closure, as he had been trying to get in touch with Apex a little over a year before the park closed, interested in purchasing it and taking over operations. “If they shoot me an offer, I would purchase it right now,” Gerstoff said. A petition was created by a Monticello resident to "Help save Indiana Beach," to entourage a buyer to purchase the park. As of Friday, it had gathered more than 29,000 signatures. The park sits along the shores of Lake Shafer, one of the Twin Lakes in Monticello, offering an unobstructed view of the lake from park property. For nearly 100 years, Monticello has grown around Indiana Beach. The amusement park, best known for it's slogan, "There's more than corn in Indiana," was an iconic institution for the small town, offering an attraction for both in-state and out-of-state tourists and a chance to put Monticello on the map. Indiana Beach was first built as Ideal Beach in 1926 by Earl Spackman. The property changed hands a few times, through Spackman family members and Morgan Recreation Vacations before it was purchased by Apex in 2015. Kaylee Hahn, the digital marketing director for Enjoying White County Tourism, said the root of White County’s tourism in its entirety stems from Indiana Beach. In 2018, Hahn said White County Tourism recorded Indiana Beach employing between 650 to 800 people, including both seasonal and full-time staff. The number of season pass holders was around 46,000, which encapsulated people in both single and family passes. The park’s total attendance in 2018 was over 600,000, according to Hahn. However, Hahn said more recent additions, including resorts, lakeside dining, boat rentals and the Madam Carroll boat on neighboring Lake Freeman have seen a parallel that moves the primary income away from solely the amusement park. “The lakes are still a great avenue of income, and they’re sustainable,” Hahn said. “They aren’t going anywhere.” There’s also a potential for high-value real estate, if the park were to dismantled and the was land sold to developers. Hahn said the White County Association of Realtors met to discuss the value and potential that Indiana Beach’s land could hold. Attempts to reach the Association of Realtors were not immediately returned. Michael Sims and Ryan Clemons, co-owners of Outrigger Resort and real estate agents, said adding developments to Indiana Beach’s land, whether those be lakefront homes or condos, would be in large demand. Houses for sale around Lake Shafer currently range from $139,900 to $989,900, according to Zillow.com. “There is a huge draw for condos here,” Clemons said. “They’re in big demand. I really believe, as a result, we’ll see a different financial demographic come through Monticello. The higher-end market would increase, and the lower-end market would decrease.” Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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