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Project includes an athletic complex, which was left out of initial plan City Council to revisit STAR bond district at K-96 and Greenwich

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, April 29, 2012, at 7:20 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013, at 10:12 a.m.

A STAR bond district at K-96 and Greenwich will return before the Wichita City Council on Tuesday because of a defect in the district ordinance omitting the project’s centerpiece development.

Council members will consider setting a June 5 public hearing on the district ordinance, which the city’s bond counsel wants amended to include the STAR bond district’s proposed $50 million athletic complex.

According to city documents, the cost of developing that complex in the 400-acre district was omitted from the original district plan to be financed by sales tax revenue, or STAR, bonds. Under state law, the district plan must identify all of the eligible expenses to be covered by the STAR bond revenue, with athletic complexes one of the permitted exceptions that can be financed by the tax proceeds.

Project developers say the athletic facility is already permitted by state law to be financed with STAR bond revenue and no amendment is necessary, City Manager Robert Layton said Friday. However, under the advice of city bond counsel, the council will proceed with the amendment.

The $270 million project, which would be partially funded by the STAR bond revenue in an amount to be determined by the state, has been approved as a qualifier by the Kansas Department of Commerce.

That state action, in March, sets the stage for a project plan using sales tax revenue from the sports and entertainment retailers making up the district.

The GoodSports group is proposing a 53,000-square-foot indoor sports fieldhouse, part of a tourism and shopping destination district that includes the Cabela’s store. The development group has ties to the Village West project around the Kansas Speedway in Johnson County.

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.

The GoodSports project is the first STAR bond proposal to come before the Wichita City 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 only other city STAR project is the riverfront improvement plan.

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.

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

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