Land sold for resort planned near Kentucky’s Red River Gorge

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Investors are obtaining land for development of a private, upscale resort near Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, a nonprofit group said, but with significant local opposition the project is far from a done deal.

Red River Economic Development announced Wednesday that private investors signed a contract to buy 891 acres (360 hectares) near Slade for about $2.25 million, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. The land is currently privately owned by entrepreneur Ian Teal.

There is significant local opposition to resort development of the land outside the borders of the Red River Gorge, one of Appalachia’s most beloved natural attractions.

The sandstone arches and towering cliffs in the 42,000-acre geological area southeast of Lexington has long attracted hundreds of thousands of hikers, rock-climbers, kayakers and campers each year.

The buyers, known as Red River Property Holding Group LLC, will hold the land until Red River Economic Development can find a developer to build the resort. Red River Economic Development is the nonprofit arm of the Kentucky Chamber Foundation.

Red River Economic Development said in a news release that the closing on the purchase will happen after survey and title work. Chairman Charles Beach III said that while an economic rebound has started a year after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, “we need more time to test the waters with developers and investors for the proposed resort.

“We’re extremely fortunate that this group of supporters is willing to purchase and hold the property for three years and give us breathing room to pursue a suitable development plan,” Beach said.

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