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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wichita City Council approves STAR bond district a second time

By RICK PLUMLEE
The Wichita Eagle

An amended STAR bond district ordinance at K-96 and Greenwich was approved unanimously Tuesday by the Wichita City Council.

The council had approved the district in February, but that ordinance didn’t include the 370-acre district’s proposed $50 million athletic complex. State law didn’t require that it be in the ordinance, but the city’s bond counsel wanted it to be in there.

Allen Bell, the city’s urban development director, told the council it was best to “err on the side of caution” and follow the bond counsel’s recommendation.

A public hearing on the STAR bond district’s amendment was set for June 5.

The $270 million STAR bond project also must seek final approval from the state. The Kansas Department of Commerce approved the project in concept in March and has said it qualifies under STAR bond guidelines.

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

The STAR bonds issued by the city would be paid from the state’s 6.3 percent sales tax, plus the city’s portion of the 1-cent, countywide sales tax that doesn’t go for bond payments on the Kellogg freeway work. That amount is .29 of each 1 cent collected in Sedgwick County, Bell said.

The bonds can pay for certain development costs in the district, including land acquisition and public and private infrastructure.

GoodSports Enterprises, developer of the project, is proposing a 53,000-square-foot indoor sports fieldhouse, part of a tourism and shopping destination district that includes the Cabela’s store, which opened in March.

Korb Maxwell, a Kansas City attorney representing GoodSports, said landing a major tenant for the project is “imminent.”

The developers say the sports facility would target a broad range of events, including national-caliber Amateur Athletic Union basketball tournaments.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com

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