Nearly three years after entering into a memorandum of understanding with a company looking to bring a gondola system to Branson, the city has withdrawn from the agreement.
City Attorney Chris Lebeck said the city withdrew from the agreement in May saying American Gondola Inc. failed to meet any of the timeline agreements beyond preliminary planning and design work.
“This project marched along with zero progress,” Lebeck said. “There were certain obligations which needed to have been met, none of which have been met.”
The city entered into the memorandum of understanding in December of 2016. Speaking to a Branson Tri-Lakes News reporter in 2016, AGI President Jeff Green said the gondola system would run from downtown Branson, along 76 Country Boulevard, to Silver Dollar City. A full trip on the gondola would take roughly 40 minutes. Roughly 400 to 600 gondola cars would carry 3,000 passengers an hour each way; each car would have 8 to 10 passengers.
Speaking to the Branson Tri-Lakes News in 2018, AGI President Jeff Green said the project was still on, but the company was still looking to secure funding.
“We had some financial plans in place that didn’t come through like we thought they were going to, so we had to change directions a little bit and go re-find financing,” Green said in 2018.
“We’re much more confident this time that we’re almost to that point. We had some discussions this morning with our financial guys, and they were saying everything seems to be on pace. We’ll probably get financing in place by early fall.
“Part of that was our own problem. We had financing we were pursuing and thought we had found a better deal and the better deal fell through.”
According to Branson Tri-Lakes News archives, the agreement allowed AGI to move forward with plans for the project while receiving assurances from Branson that the city would not consider any competitors to AGI.
With the city withdrawing from the memorandum of understanding, City Administrator Stan Dobbins said any company, including AGI, is free to approach the city with a similar proposal if they choose.
“While they’re perfectly free to come back and do this, we also have the opportunity to have others come in and present a proposal where we could not as long as that was in force,” Dobbins said. “They have not been able to come up with any financing, so, to open the market again, so to speak, it was appropriate to terminate the contract because they failed to live up to the contract.”
Lebeck said there was no cost to the city in withdrawing from the memorandum of understanding.