Make me an angel, that flies from Montgomery…
Those words by John Prine come in the form of a new recirculating whitewater park coming to Montgomery, Alabama, that officially broke ground this week. The construction has officially started for the new world-class outdoor recreation and entertainment district, Montgomery Whitewater. The Montgomery County Commission and the Montgomery County Community Cooperative District along with Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed, and other local, state, and federal leaders celebrated the groundbreaking of this transformative project. Located at the gateway to Montgomery, the Olympic-standard whitewater and outdoor activities center is destined to create a new vibrancy in Montgomery County with a wave of tourism, economic development, and enhanced quality of life.
Scheduled to open in summer 2023 and designed by S20 Design, headed by five-time World Cup champion Scott Shipley, the 120-acre recreation and entertainment complex will serve as one of the few recirculating whitewater parks in the country, a unique attraction that provides dynamic outdoor recreation such as rafting, kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding. It will cater to beginners and experts alike, including those participating in Olympic standard competitions and swift water training rescue missions.
“This is where the adventure really starts. Today begins the hard part, the digging and the building, but peek through the wire and follow us on Facebook and let yourself get excited,” says Shipley.
The project will also feature climbing areas, zip lines, ropes courses and hiking and mountain biking trails. Restaurants, retail, cabanas, and a conference center will serve as additional gathering places and entertainment events such as live music performances, festivals and camps will draw both residents and visitors.
Developed by Southern Whitewater Development Group, construction of Montgomery Whitewater is expected to employ 640 people and have a construction economic impact of $39.8 million. Total annual estimated operation impact is expected to be more than $35 million. The Montgomery County Community Cooperative District, a board of select community leaders formed to oversee the construction of the center located in west Montgomery, hired local company JESCO, Inc. Construction as its Construction Manager at Risk.
“This is an exciting day for our region—Montgomery Whitewater is the type of forward thinking, quality of life project that will grow our population base and attract new visitors, creating additional revenues and opportunities for new and existing small and minority-owned businesses,” says Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean. “The Montgomery County Commission took a chance to invest in this project and more importantly into Montgomery as a whole. I love my hometown and am thrilled we are providing this for all residents and visitors alike to enjoy. We look forward to it being the destination hotspot and a deciding factor for new residents to call Montgomery home.”
Adds Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed: “Today is a milestone for Montgomery. The Whitewater project can be a catalyst to transform our city and this entire region. We are being intentional in our work to attract new opportunities for growth and investment by marketing areas outside of traditional development zones. Today’s celebration would be impossible without our partners who believed in the potential of this project, and we look forward to bringing even more visitors to Alabama and the River Region.”
Even the state is behind the project. “As a favorite destination for families and tourists, Montgomery Whitewater will reinforce the fact that the River Region offers a high quality of life while also acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic growth in the area,” says Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. “This is a game-changing project for Montgomery, and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds in the future.”
The park will feature two channels: an Olympic-style course capable of hosting world-caliber competitions as well as rafting operations, as well as an easier channel for novices. Both are expected to be a big draw.
“Today is an exciting day as construction begins on Montgomery’s world-class whitewater facility,” says Leslie Sanders, Chair of Montgomery County Community Cooperative District, a local board formed to oversee construction. “Our partners were bold enough to trust in an idea which will truly transform Montgomery and will add to Montgomery’s growing legacy as a visitor destination. The elements to be included in this project will provide unmatched recreational and training opportunities for those in our area but will also attract people from across the United States and the world. Today’s groundbreaking is possible only because of an incredible collection of partners — the Montgomery County Commission, City of Montgomery, State of Alabama, Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Montgomery Water Works and Sanitary Sewar Board, Industrial Development Board, and the Public Building Authority. Exciting months are ahead as this project now begins the shift from an idea on paper to reality.” –
For more information, visit www.montgomerywhitewater.com.