(Foley, Ala.) – The Poarch Band of Creek Indians today unveiled detailed plans for its first-class, family-friendly tourist destination currently under construction near Alabama’s most popular beaches.
The development’s name, OWA, means “big water” in the Muskogee Creek language. OWA “big water” refers to the 14-acre lake at the center of the unique project that features a themed amusement park, a 150-room Marriott Town Place Suites hotel, and a wide selection of restaurant and shopping opportunities.
Stephanie A. Bryan, Poarch Creek’s Tribal Chair and CEO noted, “As a Tribe, we have worked hard to ensure that our businesses bring revenue and jobs into the State and add to the quality of life in the rural communities where they are located. OWA is being built in this tradition, and we are very excited to be both neighbors and partners with the City of Foley in bringing economic development to this area.”
When completed, the OWA development will generate close to 3,500 jobs (both direct and indirect) and will boost tourist spending in South Alabama by 7%. That increase in spending is expected to increase Baldwin County’s economic output by close to $250 million.
The 520-acre OWA development is adjacent to the City of Foley’s $40 million sports tourism complex which features 16 state-of-the-art outdoor fields and a 90,000 square foot indoor events center that is slated to open in the summer of 2017. The two projects will provide a seamless experience for “sport families” who travel to the area specifically for tournaments, but who will avail themselves of opportunities offered by OWA to entertain the entire family.
“For every visitor, OWA will provide a top-notch experience,” said Tim Martin, President of Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority, the Tribe’s business entity charged with developing the property. He continued, “It is an added benefit that families who come to Foley for sporting events will also have all of OWA’s offerings available to them. We believe that this is a winning combination that will have families coming back to Alabama for years to come.”
OWA is located along the Foley Beach Express and County Road 20, just 9 miles from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. While that area of the State already hosts 6.2 million each year, OWA is expected to bring in an additional 1 million visitors annually.
Foley’s Mayor John Koniar added, “No place can beat Alabama’s Gulf beaches for their natural beauty. We are happy to offer visitors to our area a one stop, family-friendly destination that is near the beach but will provide another option, for not only overnight visitors, but those looking for a day trip getaway.”
OWA’s design celebrates its rural roots. The complex will have the feel of a small Southern town that evolves through time with distinct districts such as the Warehouse District, Downtown District, and Amusement Park.
Phase One of OWA, which includes the 150-room hotel, retail and dining spaces, amusement park and lake will open Summer 2017. Future plans call for a waterpark, additional hotels, a condominium complex and a resort level RV park. When complete, total investment in the development will top $500 million.