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STAR bond hearing set for Feb. 14 on proposed athletic complex at K-96 and Greenwich

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, at 6:36 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013, at 10:12 a.m.

— The public will get its chance Feb. 14 to weigh in on a proposed destination entertainment and shopping complex at K-96 and Greenwich funded by state sales tax revenue.

The Wichita City Council voted 6-0 this morning to set the hearing for GoodSports, a Kansas City-based developer, which is proposing a $50 million sales tax and revenue (STAR) bond district for the site. The hearing was set without public comment or debate from the bench. Mayor Carl Brewer was absent.

“We’re very pleased that the council recognizes the merits of the project and elected to move forward,” said Kansas City attorney Korb Maxwell, representing the GoodSports group.

The group is proposing a 53,000-square-foot indoor sports fieldhouse, part of a 370-acre tourism and shopping destination district that includes the Cabela’s store under construction. The development group is responsible for the Village West project around the Kansas Speedway in Johnson County.

The GoodSports project is the first STAR bond proposal to come before the council since Bowllagio, a bowling-themed multi-use attraction proposed for west Wichita. It died before the council in 2010 amid public protests that it would misuse public tax money and threaten the financial viability of longtime private bowling alleys.

The first phase of the GoodSports project, including the fieldhouse, would be built just north of K-96 east of Greenwich, with the bulk of the district including Cabela’s, Target and other retailers running along both sides of Greenwich south to 21st Street. The proposed tourism district also includes an undeveloped tract owned by Slawson Cos. just southeast of the 21st and Greenwich intersection.

The developers say the sports facility would target a broad range of events, including national-caliber Amateur Athletic Union basketball tournaments. It also would target the one-of-a-kind restaurants and retailers that drive traffic to the Kansas City development.

The centerpiece of the funding behind the project is the state’s STAR bond law, which allows the state’s 6.3 percent sales tax on purchases to be captured for certain development costs in a district. The funds can be used for “horizontal” expenses, including land acquisition and public and private infrastructure.

Allen Bell, the city’s urban development director, said today that the project also would use half of the city’s share of newly generated sales taxes in the area, but would not use any property tax monies. Should the project use any new or existing property tax revenues, it would be subject to a veto by the Sedgwick County Commission and school boards in Wichita and the Circle school district.

For the project to proceed, the City Council and the Kansas Department of Commerce would have to establish a STAR bond district for the intersection, following the public hearing at City Hall.

Then, developers must submit a project plan demonstrating at least a $50 million capital investment, at least $50 million in gross sales and no significant negative impact on existing businesses in the project marketing area. The council and Commerce Department must again approve. Both council decisions require a two-thirds vote.

Maxwell said GoodSports will continue “working the proposal,” although he doesn’t expect any major modifications to the proposed district.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com

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