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Tuesday, April 27, 2010 - 4:46pm

'Whitewater' Coming To Columbus

Columbus officials say a multi-million dollar whitewater course will transform its section of the Chattahoochee River--bringing big economic investment and thousands of outdoor enthusiasts.

More than a decade in planning, the go-ahead has been given to construct a whitewater course on the river. The project will involve blowing-up two major dams to help reconfigure the river for the sport.

Columbus and business leaders have their eye on the economic impact to the community once the work is done.

John Turner with the River Restoration Steering Committee hopes for more than 180,000 visitors annually, bringing over $2 million in sales taxes.

And Turner says a big change is in-store for property values along the Chattahoochee’s banks, given the city’s industrial past:

"(In the past) that was not considered to be desirable real estate along the river. So we’re going to have a tremendous positive impact on real estate along the river because it’s going to become prime riverfront property.”

Turner estimates a jump of 60 percent value for river-fronted property within five years of the whitewater course being open.

As for how Columbus' whitewater course might rank to others in the nation, Turner says a bevy of positives would put it among the best.

“We have the benefit of reliable flow all year round. We’re the southernmost good whitewater in the eastern United States. The water temperatures are warm. We think all of that is working in our favor, in addition to being urban.”

Turner says construction would begin next spring, with hopeful opening of the course sometime in 2012.