ST. LOUIS (AP) - Anheuser-Busch heir and Kraftig Beer founder William K. “Billy” Busch unveiled his plan Wednesday to revitalize Grant’s Farm and keep the sprawling attraction in the family, despite his siblings’ desire to sell it to the St. Louis Zoo.
Grant’s Farm would remain a free tourist attraction, but add a new pavilion, exhibits and life-sized bronze statues of his parents, as well as opening it year-round. His plan also would move his fast-growing beer company from the St. Louis suburb of Brentwood.
The plan “clearly reflects the desires of my father, who stated in his will that he wanted one or more of his children to buy Grant’s Farm, keep it in our family, and operate it for the public’s benefit for generations to come,” Busch said in a statement.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, formed when InBev purchased the brewery in 2008, currently leases the south St. Louis County land from the family. In November, the St. Louis Zoo Association said it was approached by Busch family members about buying Grant’s Farm at an estimated cost of about $30 million, and that Anheuser-Busch InBev would donate most of the money to the zoo for the purchase.
Zoo leaders want to use it for a third campus and extensive breeding site for endangered animals.
Four of Busch’s five siblings want to sell Grant’s Farm to the zoo. Billy Busch offered to pay $24.1 million to the trust that holds the property, but the offer does not include an adjacent parking lot and pasture, which he said are valued at about $3 million.
St. Louis Zoo Association President Matt Geekie said in a statement that the family must resolve its differences first.
“Our attention must be on remaining the world’s best Zoo,” he said. “Until the family resolves its differences, the Zoo will be focused on pursuing its master plan for the Saint Louis Zoo - with or without Grant’s Farm.”
Busch said he has offered his siblings a chance to serve on the board overseeing Grant’s Farm, and has expressed interest in partnering or collaborating with the zoo and InBev.
Grant’s Farm has drawn 25 million guests since it opened in 1954 on 281 acres. It includes some 900 animals - ranging from exotic birds to camels, kangaroos and elephants - and is also home to some of the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales. It is named for Civil War general and former President Ulysses S. Grant, who originally worked a portion of the land.
Busch believes he can keep the park sustainable by adding corporate sponsorships, hosting events like concerts and holiday festivals and improving concessions. He also said that within five years he would build a small brewery on the land to demonstrate how beer is made.
Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.