'Miracle Mile' attraction between Somerset and London is revisited

FILE photo I CJ

Anthony (Tony) Del Spina holds a framed page from the Commonwealth Journal on which a story relates his plans some 20 years ago to develop Lake Cumberland Resort in the Roberts Bend section of Lake Cumberland. Del Spina said this week he has divested his interest in the $50 million resort and will focus on Miracle Mile Complex.

A Palm Beach, Fla. entrepreneur and former resort developer on Lake Cumberland, looking at new administrations in Frankfort and Somerset, said he is reviving efforts to create a micro-mini Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge type attraction off Ky. 80 near the Rockcastle River in far-eastern Pulaski County.

Anthony (Tony) Del Spina told the Commonwealth Journal Wednesday he has divested his interest in Lake Cumberland Resort near Burnside and will focus on developing what he has dubbed Miracle Mile Complex. The proposed development will be divided into two parcels: Phase One, 300 acres on the north side of Ky. 80, and Phase two, 125 acres on the south side, (intended for future expansion). Each tract contains 2,000 feet of Ky. 80 frontage. Both parcels are centrally located, 19 miles from the heart of Somerset and 13 miles to London's I-75 interchange, Del Spina pointed out.

The front 100 acres will accommodate retail stores and lodging accommodations. The remaining 200 acres will provide residents and tourist entertainment and park attractions such as amphitheater events, nature trails, petting zoo, observation tower with chair lifts, zip lines, horseback riding through the adjacent Daniel Boone National Forest, among numerous additional activities, Del Spina's plan notes.

A mile of roadways will circle though 1 million square feet of commercial-retail buildings, Del Spina said. The remaining 200-acres behind the center will house a multitude of amenities planned to entice the public to visit what is intended to provide an altogether different shopping experience. Educational guided tours of attractions within the Daniel Boone National Forest will be incorporated in the master plan.

An outdoor, 25-acre amphitheater area will offer special entertainment events throughout four seasons, Del Spina said. Heavy emphasis on Somernites Cruise, festivals, arts and craft shows, Christmas Wonderland, New Year's extravaganzas, Easter hunts, traditional Thanksgiving events and laser light Fourth of July shows will surely attract and overbook onsite hotel/motel and restaurant accommodations, Del Spina suggested.

Del Spina made the original announcement about the lavish development in March 2017. The State Transportation Cabinet at the time would not make necessary road improvements. Former Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler wanted what Del Spina considered an excessive $20 million to extend water and sewer lines to the project. Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley declined to float a bond and a public meeting planned at The Center for Rural Development to discuss the project never materialized.

Suddenly, media publicity and local talk about Miracle Mile ceased. However, Del Spina indicated work on the Miracle Mile Complex is still going on and his dream has never died. He said 100 acres on the west side of the property have been cleared and 200 acres on the north side are being cleared.

Del Spina said he talked with Somerset mayoral candidate Alan Keck before the election last fall and during the next few weeks he plans to arrange a meeting with Mayor Keck and city attorney John Adams. He also will arrange meetings with other agencies which may be sources of assistance, he indicated.

During his conversation this week with the Commonwealth Journal, Del Spina said plans for the Miracle Mile Complex have not changed since the original announcement in March 2017. He said the regional project would create up to 3,000 jobs and attract the 4.75 million people who annually visit the Lake Cumberland area.

Del Spina said at the time he needed help from the state Transportation Cabinet to construct highway access: Either build the proposed I-66 through the area with an interchange at the development, or construct service roads off two-lane Ky. 80.

Also, a development of this type needs infrastructure -- water, wastewater disposal and natural gas. Somerset's natural gas main from Eastern Kentucky is near Del Spina's proposed development but water and sewer mains would have to be extended through the wilderness from the vicinity of Valley Oak Commerce Complex off Ky. 461. There are wide differences of opinion on how much this would cost: Then-Mayor Girdler said the city would have to have $20 million up front to extend the infrastructure. Del Spina's engineers say the cost would be slightly more than $2.2 million.

Girdler suggested a tourist attraction such as the Miracle Mile would divert motorists coming down I-75 and Ky. 461 easterly on Ky. 80 toward London and away from Somerset, Pulaski County and Lake Cumberland

Del Spina reportedly asked Pulaski County to issue bonds to pay for the infrastructure. He says the bonds could be secured in a manner where taxpayers would not end up retiring the bonds.