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Monday, May 21, 2012 - 1:06pm

Callaway Gardens Selling Acreage

Updated: 2 years ago.
Callaway Gardens, known for its famous butterfly gardens, plans to sell nearly a third of its property to settle heavy debt. (photo courtesy Vicki DeLoach)

Callaway Gardens plans to sell nearly a third of its property to settle heavy debt resulting from declining attendance and projects that have drained revenues in recent years, and says a prospective buyer is waiting in the wings.

Edward Callaway, chief executive officer and chairman of the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, says resort operations have been suffering for a long time. The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports the resort once attracted 1 million visitors per year, but attendance was down to 395,000 last summer.

The 13,000-acre resort turns 60 on Monday.

Callaway would not disclose who is buying the 4,000 acres. If the property's sale goes through and a planned fundraising campaign is successful, the foundation wants to refurbish the park's buildings and roads and turn it into a year-round attraction.