by: Jim Strickland Updated:PICKENS COUNTY, Ga. —
If you build it, will they come? That's the question in north Georgia, where investors plan to pour a fortune into a water park resort in Pickens County.
"When I first heard about it I was, like everyone else, very skeptical," said Jasper Mayor John Weaver.
Weaver walked with Channel 2's Jim Strickland down a timber path to the middle of a 176-acre plot where developers plan to build the Port Royal Resort. It's a combination indoor/outdoor water park, hotel and conference center and amphitheater.
More than 1,000 jobs will be involved in building it and 1,000 more full- and part-time positions are anticipated to run it.
Weaver said his skepticism changed when he saw the developers were spending plenty of time and money in the early planning.
"I believe if there had not been a project for real it would have died a year ago," Weaver said.
Among the principals in the resort's holding company is Mathew Knowles, the father of pop and R&B sensation Beyoncé Knowles.
"We've done tremendous research. This wasn't like, 'Wow let's just close our eyes and pick Pickens County,'" Knowles told Strickland in a telephone interview.
"They wanted a destination, and this would be an amazing destination," said Pickens County Chamber of Commerce President Denise Duncan.
There is plenty of debate around town. Resident Diane Wells sees both sides.
"It'll bring a lot of jobs. I would just as soon not have all the traffic and that sort of thing, but I think overall it'll be a good thing," Wells said.
Groundbreaking would come this fall. Opening is two years after that.
"Is your daughter going to open the place?" Strickland asked Knowles.
"You never know, do you?" Knowles said.