When it was launched to great fanfare in 2006, investors were promised the new $1.6 billion Indian Ridge Resort Community in the Ozarks region of Missouri would feature a shopping mall, a 390-room hotel and the country’s second-largest indoor water park – and dozens of enormous, castle-like townhouses.
But 15 years later, the 900-acre development near Table Rock Lake, Missouri, lies mostly empty, and abandoned McMansions litter the vast site in varying states of disrepair.
The project foundered as the 2008 financial crisis hit; loans were defaulted on, and construction work came to a halt.
The original lead developer Jim Shirato was fined for violating state clean water laws and five people were convicted and sentenced for their roles in a real estate fraud scheme by lying to get loans to buy townhouses, local news outlet KY 3 reported.
The abandoned resort buildings next to Table Rock Lake, east of Branson West, visible from Route 76, have become a source of curiosity for visitors to the region, which attracts up to 9 million tourists each year.
And now as the start of the warm season brings an influx of visitors, the unsightly mansions are continuing their slow decay.
The Indian Ridge Resort Community, near Table Rock Lake in Missouri, collapsed after the 2008 financial crisis. A new development on the same site, called The Ridge at Table Rock Lake, is seeking investors
An unfinished condominium at the abandoned Indian Ridge Resort development at Branson West, Missouri. The development was plagued with problems and abandoned during the Great Recession of 2008
The eerie collection of abandoned condominiums near Table Rock Lake are visible from Route 76 in Missouri
Nature has started to reclaim the abandoned homes, which once featured turrets, enormous living areas and bedrooms
It’s a far cry from when the development was unveiled to the public back in 2006.
Then, former Missouri governor Matt Blunt ‘yelled into a bullhorn for excavators to start their engines’, KY3 reported.
The resort was to feature a hotel, shops, a conference center, a water park, a museum about the local Native American population, a golf course and a marina, as well as the large condominiums, which were earmarked as vacation homes.
The site was also meant to feature large infrastructure projects in the area, with major highway improvements, healthcare facilities and wastewater treatment facilities proposed.
But in August 2008, as banks teetered on the edge of collapse and the global financial crisis caused credit lines to vanish, federal regulators shut down the project, the Branson Tri-Lakes News reported.
It would later emerge that five people were involved in a real estate fraud to secure loans to purchase properties at the resort.
In 2017, David Drake, 67, and Donald Snider, 57, both of Colorado, were sentenced to five years prison for lying to get loans to buy townhouses at the site and sell them as vacation homes.
The pair had been business partners at Western Site Services, which set out to develop the Indian Ridge resort.
They admitted one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
With their smashed windows and busted doors, the McMansions at the failed Indian Ridge Resort have become an eyesore
The castle-like structures were supposed to become high-end vacation homes, nestled amongst a huge resort with a gold course, marina and indoor water park
But the developers went bust in 2008, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Company stepped in to purchase the site in 2012 for just $3.1m
A real estate fraud scheme where several investors lied to secure loans to purchase homes at the site was one of several problems to plague the project
The site’s current owners are hoping to secure investors to a new development on the site
The new developers took over the project and in 2018 unveiled plans for a different development at the same site called The Ridge at Table Rock Lake
Snider’s wife Heather Gibbs, 54, and Drake’s wife Vickie Hall, were each sentenced to three years probation for their roles in the scheme. A fifth person, James Clarkson, 45, of Arizona, last August received a 24-month prison sentence.
It wasn’t the only legal trouble the project fell into.
The developers were later convicted of violating state and federal clean water laws after excavated soil washed into Table Rock Lake, and Jim Shirato was forced to pay a $125,000 fine.
The U.S. Attorney in Missouri’s Western District said in a statement that the failure of Indian Ridge Resort and North Shore Investments to abate, control or slow the erosion from the construction site persisted through at least the end of August 2011.
In 2012, the Federal Deposit Insurance Company stepped in to purchase the development for just $3.1m. New developers bought the property three years later.
In 2018, they broke ground on the new development called The Ridge at Table Rock Lake.
Still grand in scope, it is hoping investors won’t be turned off by the development’s rocky history.
‘With 9 million visitors annually to the area, this property is uniquely situated to benefit from the broad local, regional, and national market that plays, works, and lives in Branson, Missouri,’ the developers state in marketing material online.
The Ozarks are a sprawling, mountainous region which covers large parts of the states of Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.