In October of 2015, a sign went up announcing plans to bring the old FunTime USA amusement park back to Highway 90.
Landowners and investors put together a proposal to build on the east side of Cowan Road, across from the beach. That sign is now face-down on the property and the project is dead.
“They lost their investor. We had a proposal going through the planning commission multiple times and the city council multiple times. The vote came down 4-3 in favor of FunTime, but it put off such a negative vibe that the investor pulled out and said, ‘No, we’re not coming to Gulfport,'” said real estate broker David Comstock.
Comstock represents one of the three land owners who control about 15 acres on the corner. Rafe O’Neal – whose family owned the original FunTime – was excited about rebuilding a new version of the park. Neighbors in the area opposed it and according to Comstock, Gulfport leaders threw up obstacles.
The intersection is a prime location in Gulfport. Although Comstock admittedly has a vested interest in the site, he stresses the importance of development on Highway 90 and its impact on tourism.
“Everyone who comes to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, they don’t get up in Tupelo on a Saturday morning and say, ‘Let’s go to Orange Grove.’ Nothing against Orange Grove, let’s go to the Gulf Coast. When they talk about the Gulf Coast, they’re talking about Highway 90, the beach, restaurants, casinos and all the entertainment,” Comstock said.
While the FunTime project is history, Comstock says the landowners are on the same page and entertaining at least one serious proposal for the property.
“There is a group from out of state that is interested in doing a kind of destination hotel with an amusement park attached to it,” Comstock said.
The newly proposed investment would be in the $25-50 million range. Rafe O’Neal says he is not giving up on his plan to bring FunTime USA back. He’s looking at other pieces of property.
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