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Plans for Noah's Ark theme park face collapse without more funds

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Plans for a Christian theme park in Northern Kentucky may be sunk unless millions of dollars from investors are raised soon.AP

Plans for Ark Encounter, a creationist theme park in Kentucky featuring a 510-foot-long replica of Noah's Ark, may sink unless the project raises millions in a few short weeks. 

The Christian nonprofit Answers in Genesis, the group behind Ark Encounter, has sold unrated municipal bonds worth $26.5 million, but needs to sell another $29 million by Feb. 6 to avoid triggering redemption of what's already been sold, Bloomberg News reports.

Ken Ham, the nonprofit’s president, in an email to supporters, said without the bonds construction funds will fall short.

“We still need those Ark supporters who weren’t able to purchase the Ark bonds at closing to prayerfully consider participating in a secondary bond delivery at the level they had indicated to us,” Ham said. “Will you please step out in faith with us?”

The first phase is estimated to cost $73 million, according to Bloomberg. About $14 million had been raised before the bond sale, which was supposed to make up the difference, but Ham said that Ark Encounter has had no institutional investors buy its bonds.

The designers of the proposed theme park built want Ark Encounter to tell the world that the story of Noah's Ark isn't just Bible legendary, but a part of human history. At the center of the park is the 510-foot-long ark replica that organizers hope will draw more than a million visitors a year.

However, the theme park  has come under fire from critics who say it would disrupt the wall of separation between church and state. 

Construction is supposed to begin in March, with Ark Encounter scheduled to open in April 2016. It would be built on about 200 acres, with 800 acres reserved for ventures such as hotels and restaurants.