ABOVE Banner art from the 2015 website for DreamVision
It started with a February 2015 news conference in Florence, long on energy but short on details. DreamVision Soundscape, a $3.5 billion, 1, 400-acre music-themed entertainment venue, was headed for the Shoals. Ground would be broken in just a few months and there’d be hotels, midway rides, shopping and more.
It ended March 20 of this year in Lauderdale County Circuit Court, where state officials revealed a plea agreement that included a 10-year prison sentence and a $7 million restitution order for Bryan K. Robinson of Killen. Robinson, who promoted DreamVision along with other business deals through his company, Robinson Capital Investments LLC, pleaded guilty to securities fraud for his part in bilking about 40 Alabama investors.
From the beginning, DreamVision had many scratching their heads. Muscle Shoals would be a natural home for the new megapark, organizers said, but no one in Muscle Shoals seemed to know anything about it. The Alabama Department of Tourism had no clues, nor did the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, which was supposed to be heavily in the mix.
A December 2015 story in Business Alabama captured the confusion felt by such onlookers as Tuscumbia Mayor Billy Shoemaker. “They talked about millions of visitors, ” Shoemaker said at the time. “We don’t have the infrastructure in place. We don’t have roads, sewer, utilities, any of that ready, and it can’t be ready overnight.”
The naysayers did little to deflate DreamVision organizers, who said they wanted to build a similar venue in Fort Worth, Texas.
Judge Gilbert P. Self in March ordered Robinson to pay $7 million to the bilked investors and Robinson is permanently barred from the securities industry in Alabama.
“Robinson sought to profit by stealing millions of dollars from over 40 Alabama investors who trusted him with their life savings, ” Alabama Securities Commission Director Joseph Borg said in a statement. “This conduct will not be tolerated in Alabama.”