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EarthQuest developer promises progress despite current lack of investors

Monday, March 25, 2013

By B.R. Kimbro

The proposed EarthQuest theme park in East Montgomery County has not secured funding to move forward with the project, Chris Brown, CEO of Contour Entertainment, told East Montgomery County Improvement District board members at their March 19 meeting. Brown told the board that the project is lacking a lead investor, that he has hired an investment banking firm to provide credibility when talking with potential investors. “It’s been very positive overall. And that I find very, very encouraging,” Brown said. “I will admit to you now, that I am committed to this project and that’s great but except I am a half billion dollars short of doing it. So we need people who understand how to do this and raise that kind of capital involved, that’s why we’ve hired a professional investment banking firm to stand on our side and provide credibility when talking with these groups. They’ve done a very good job on the funds and we’ll get the response we’re looking for. What that leads to is face-to-face discussions and meetings.” Brown said that he has had preliminary meetings with a number of people more than 10 and less than 50. He said once the project lands a significant investor, everything else will follow. According to Brown, commitments have been made by potential investors however in the “significant millions.” “These are large individuals, extremely high net-worth individuals, and appropriations and investment fund managers,” he said. “Institutional investors are the key targets in all these things. I am very happy to report that we’ve had positive responses from almost every single group that we’ve talked to. They vary in terms of how that is articulated, but for a naive person such as myself and going out and raising this kind of money, it’s very positive to hear the professional opinion.” Back in December, Brown told board members during a special meeting that Contour would “hopefully” be funded at least with half of the $500 million needed in order to move forward. Brown also said Contour planned to continue with the option to close on the land and eventually pay EMCID back approximately $8.6 million. At that meeting, the board voted in favor of an amended Letter of Intent for the project, which includes five conditions for Contour. One of those conditions required that fundraising progress be reported 90 days after the extension date in the letter. If any results of Contour’s fundraising efforts appear negative, EMCID has the option to terminate the Letter of Intent. According to Brown, Contour has made a very significant investment in time and money in terms of developing the project and that no major alterations have been made to the original plans for the park. “The design that we have is for specific property, we’ve designed this to work around the wetlands that are existed based on the information we have from the Army Corps … all that is currently in place and there is no significant change relevant to that and the overall planning,” Brown said. Frank McCrady, president of EMCID, gave board members an update on the status of another theme park, Grand Texas, which is planned to be built north of the EarthQuest site between New Caney and Splendora. “As far as Grand Texas goes, they’re moving forward with the land acquisition and then they’ve entered into a contractual agreement with the bank,” McCrady said. “The project is going very well they are very pleased with the site and the assistance they’ve been getting so far.” He said that the anticipated closing date on the proposed Grand Texas property is May 30.

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