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Preliminary plans and work continue on the mega development in east Franklin, Ky., for RV enthusiasts and tourists, according to a report in the Franklin Favorite.
“This thing will never be finished as long as we have some creativity left,” said developer David Garvin, founder of RV retailer Camping World, based in Bowling Green, Ky.
Garvin, who attended the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, said that the Franklin project was the “talk of the industry” at the event, hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
“Everybody in the industry has heard about it,” he said
Garvin is planning a $53 million development that will lure RVers as well as tourists. He said he will travel to England soon to check out a type of entertainment that he would like to add to the development.
His ever-changing development has been modified to fit the 300 acres that he acquired off Ky. 100 near the Interstate 65 interchange. Instead of a five-story 650,000-square-foot building, he said planners are now considering separate structures for RV-related businesses, restaurants and entertainment centers.
Garvin wants big roads, big parking lots and greenery in his development. As many as 800 jobs could be created.
“It will look like no other interchange in America. We’ve got top-notch architects and designers who are expanding on our concept. We have good plans that people will be excited about,” Garvin said. “We want to appeal to a broad range of people. We want to be the must-go place for any traveler on the interstate.”
The project hinges on road improvements in the area of the interchange. Garvin met with area legislators recently and also talked to the head engineer of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Ky. 100 is now only two lanes, while the I-65 off-ramps are also too narrow for recreational vehicles.
Garvin said the project needs at least a two-lane off-ramp with a right lane veering off to his development. He also said that Ky. 100 needs to be expanded to seven lanes, including a turning lane in the middle.
“It’s absolutely critical for our project. We don’t want people jammed up in traffic,” Garvin said.
Rep. Rob Wilkey (D-Scottsville), the chairman of the House subcommittee on transportation, said reworking of the exit and expansion of I-65 from four to six lanes in Simpson County are to begin weather-permitting. Wilkey said he is talking with the Transportation Cabinet about widening Ky. 100 at the interchange to six lanes from the planned four when the project was first designed.
“We need to plan for the future out there. With Garvin’s coming in, there will be a lot of traffic,” Rep. Wilkey said. “We have the support of both parties in the House and the Senate for this project. I don’t see any problems.”
Garvin has been talking to sporting equipment giant Cabela’s about locating in his development.
“That (Cabela’s) in itself could become the largest tourist attraction in Kentucky,” Garvin said. “But, they (Cabela’s) won’t give me an answer until they see some blacktop laid down.”
The nearest Cabela’s is in West Virginia.
Garvin said the RV industry has been adversely affected by the high fuel prices and hurricanes, but he believes better times lie ahead.
“RV sales are down because of the high gas prices and hurricanes. But, people in the industry are upbeat. The last two years have been the best tourism years ever. I don’t think it’s anything to worry about,” Garvin said.
Garvin said land is being cleared, and designs are being made for the roads in the Franklin development. He still plans to have “something” open in 2007.
“It’s coming together pretty good right now,” he said. “After talking to people, we are as fired up as we could be about the project.”