Originally created 04/09/04

Theme park to hit coastal area

BRUNSWICK, Ga. - For millions of motorists who stream along Interstate 95 every year, there are stretches through coastal Georgia where the only scenery is pines and palmettos.

By the summer of 2006, developers said Wednesday, there will be a $150 million theme park on 800 acres north of Brunswick that will prompt many to pull off the exit and stay a while.

William G. Pitts, the president of WG Pitts Co., of Jacksonville, Fla., and officials from Powers Design, of nearby Ponte Vedra Beach, announced their plans, including rides, shows and displays of coastal Georgia's history and culture.

Steamboat City is planned at Exit 42, about midway between Savannah and Jacksonville. It is designed to have a variety of family attractions, from the relaxed (a petting zoo, a horse-drawn trolley and a railroad) to the thrilling (a haunted plantation and a roller coaster), the developers said.

Investors have pledged enough money to build the project, Mr. Pitts said, but Steamboat City must sign a final contract with Suitt Construction, of Greenville, S.C., and secure an independent appraisal of the site and the project.

He said he hopes work on the park will begin this summer.

Mr. Pitts said he and his partners also plan to sell stock in Steamboat City to raise more money.

Glynn County officials said the appropriate zoning for the project is in place, but the developers still must submit final site plans.

Mr. Pitts, the general partner and lead principal in Steamboat City, said the park will be unique, but "it's not something that hasn't been tried."

In studying the feasibility of Steamboat City during the past six months, developers contracted with LEDO International Inc., of Newport Beach, Calif., to examine the location, Mr. Pitts said.

LEDO, which plans and develops leisure and entertainment projects, found the Glynn County site to be a great location with a strong market that includes 38 million people passing each year on I-95, Mr. Pitts said.

"We're about 31Ž2 hours from the Mouse," Mr. Pitts said of Orlando's Disney World. "We feel we're in the right place and the right distance we need to be from the Orlando area."


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