APEX PARK GROUP
Park News - (5/16/20) While everything is still a bit tentative at the moment, the new owner of Indiana Beach has announced an intention to hold a VIP Grand Reopening event at the park on June 26th, followed by a public opening of the park (with a 50% capacity limitation) on June 27th. Information about how to attend the VIP party night and a new “Road to 100 Years” fundraising Brick Paver project can be found on the park’s brand new website.
(4/26/20) Screamscape now has the answer to the one question about Indiana Beach’s revival many have been wondering. According to a news article from Chicago, Gene Staples had purchased the Indiana Beach park from Apex Parks Group for an undisclosed sum on April 8th, but he has not yet purchased the land under the park. According to the article “He is planning to buy the land from Scottsdale, Arizona-based real estate investment trust Store Capital as part of the deal.”
The way that is worded is interesting, as it makes the land purchase sound as if it is another part of an overall deal to purchase the park, and it makes me wonder if his purchase of Indiana Beach itself is contingent on being able to come to a purchase agreement with Store Capital. In other words… could the entire deal to save the park fall apart if Store Capital wont agree on terms to sell?
Since I’ve never heard of Store Capital before I looked into them a little bit and discovered that the company made headlines back in mid-2017 after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought 9.8% of the company, becoming the third biggest shareholder overnight. Store Capital is a REIT with a focus on “single tenant operational real estate” deals. They also have a focus on deals with locations that are “service-oriented businesses” rather than regular retail models that have found their business models under attack from online retailers. In other words, they look to buy the real estate under businesses that rely on people coming to the location for that particular service… fitness clubs, movie theaters, medical offices, restaurants… and in this case, amusement parks. So while Store Capital has been able to successfully ride out the massive closure of brick and mortar retail locations like Sears, K-Mart and Toys-R-US, the current virus lockdown is likely to be causing them some serious concern right now.
With that in mind, selling off a large piece of property like Indiana Beach may look like a great opportunity for them right now. Especially since their stock price was riding at a high of nearly $41 a share a few months ago, and is now down in the $15-range. Oh… and while Warren Buffet’s ownership stake has dropped slightly to 7.63%, he is now the second biggest stockholder in the company just behind The Vanguard Group who owns 12.75%.
(4/25/20) As we posted to our social media channels the other day, Indiana Beach has been sold and saved. The only detailed report I’ve seen is one posted to Facebook by “News & Reviews” which appears to be a local news source to the area. I’ll embed the link to their detailed article below, where they interview the new owner, but I’ll cover some of the basics here.
The new owner is Gene Staples, a Chicago area equity investor and businessman who sounds like he has bought the park for the right reasons… to make it “family owned” once again and to save the park experience for families to enjoy with their children… including his own children who he visited the park with often over the years. They are still hoping to reopen the park for the 2020 season if possible, but for the time being they will be spending lots of time and capital on many park improvement projects. These include re-tracking the Hoosier Hurricane and lots of painting, as Staples says that one goal is a return to paying attention to the little details in the park. While these kinds of projects don’t provide an immediate return on investment, they do a lot to improve the atmosphere and guest experience in a park. I’d agree, and as most theme park fans are aware, Walt Disney himself was a huge stickler for keeping up on all the little details of the park experience.
There is one major piece of the puzzle not mentioned in this article that I hope someone can answer soon. While we know Gene Staples has purchased the Indiana Beach theme park, we do not yet know if he purchased the land under the park. Apex sold the land under the park to an unknown REIT as part of a lease-back deal in exchange for some quick cash, so it would be great to known if Staples was able to also purchase the land as well and putting the whole park and property under one ownership, or is the new ownership still beholden to the unknown land owner with unknown lease terms that could eventually come to an end?
(4/18/20) Indiana Beach has begun teasing of their social media pages that an announcement to see the park reopened and likely sold to a new owner may be coming very soon.
(4/12/20) The local news is reporting that a possible sale of Indiana Beach may be imminent, with an announcement possible as early as Monday. This is indicated that the terms of the sale are close to being finalized by White County officials as well as a spokesperson for Apex Parks Group.
(3/26/20) A reader sent in some new information about Indiana Beach after someone with a boat took a nice slow cruise past the park the other day. Apparently a small group was touring the park at the time, but impossible to say if this was a tour with a prospective new owner or just someone looking to buy some of the park’s rides or equipment. Either way, the report claims that many of the rides look to have seen some activity lately. Rides that were packed up for the winter have now removed their protective wrapping and are now set-up for operation.
Unfortunately, I can only imagine that the Coronavirus situation is only going to delay and complicate matters even more, but we can still hope for the best.
(3/19/20) The local White County Commissioners and Council both voted in favor of a resolution that would offer a $3 million incentive offer to potential buyers of the Indiana Beach amusement park. There are some obvious stipulations on the offer, including the most important one, that the buyer will operate Indiana Beach as an amusement park for a specific period of time, and I believe they would need to buy the park and the land it sits on.
This may be enough to sweeten the deal for any potential buyer, as the extra funds would go a long way towards reopening the park and any needed upkeep and repairs deemed necessary.
(3/18/20) From the sound of things, it seems like Indiana Beach may be having showings to potential buyers. A Screamscape source in the area has witnessed some new activity in the park over the past few days, including the Ferris Wheel running test cycles in the middle of the day, and even one of the “water features” in the park was seen running.
(3/13/20) Could there be a ray of hope yet for Indiana Beach? The park sent out an interesting email earlier today claiming that the announcement of the park’s closing has sparked new interest in the property and that they hope that a new suitable buyer may surface in time to reopen the park for the 2020 season. Anyone know more?
(3/2/20) Fans of Indiana Beach held a rally on Saturday with the hopes of saving their park. Unfortunately, according to an article by Orlando Weekly, any sale of Indiana Beach may be a little more complex than anticipated. I know I had not heard this before, but shortly after buying Indiana Beach Apex apparently sold the land the park sits on to “Store Master Funding” a real-estate investment group. I’m guessing this was part of a lease-back deal which we have seen elsewhere, where the real estate company pays Apex for the land, but leases it back to them to run the park that Apex still owns that sits on the land.
Now a future deal to sell the park isn’t impossible, it would just be more complex, as any new owner would have to buy the park and try to sign a new lease deal with Store Master Funding, or try to negotiate a second deal to buy the entire property as well as the park. This is assuming that Store Master Funding would be even willing to let the land go, as they may have other backup plans sitting ready to go to redevelop the property as something else entirely.
As for the park itself, a reader who attended the rally reported back to confirm that some smaller items, like the games we reported about, have been removed from the park, but as far as anyone knew none of the rides have been sold yet, though virtually all of them are apparently listed as being for sale.
(2/29/20) While many remain hopeful that Indiana Beach could find a new owner and be saved, I’m hearing that the park has already begun the process of liquidating smaller assets like arcade machines and games. Of course those are far easier to replace than the big rides, and we haven’t heard about any of those being removed just yet.
(2/22/20) While it was previously said the closure was a done deal, it looks like some potential buyers may be stepping forward to look into buying Indiana Beach, potentially saving the park from closure. While we don’t know who all may be looking at this time, there was some posting on social media from Fun Spot Orlando that they may be taking a serious look at the property.
(2/19/20) I’m very sad to report that according to several news reports Apex Parks has decided to close Indiana Beach for good. This move apparently comes after they were unsuccessful in finding a buyer to take over the unique park along the shore of Lake Shafer, and Apex Parks is now taking steps to try to redistribute or sell the park’s rides. This is especially sad as Indiana Beach finds itself closing after 94 years of operation.
According to this news article, Gregg Borman (SVP of Operations for Apex) told the local economic development director that Apex wasn’t in a position to continue to make capital improvements to the park and that Apex would be closing Indiana Beach and three others properties that they own across the country due to “financial reasons”.
Click here to read about the other closed Apex properties.
2020 - PARK CLOSED