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City sets public hearing for second community improvement district at K-96 and Greenwich

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at 11:02 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, at 9:28 a.m.

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An Aug. 6 public hearing has been set on a second community improvement district at K-96 and Greenwich, the fourth public incentive in a new patchwork designed to pay for a highway interchange.

The community improvement district would be established north and south of K-96 on the east side of Greenwich, essentially the first phase of the GoodSports STAR bonds project approved last month by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The project was scheduled to break ground this spring, but state approval pushed that back, as did changes in financing for the interchange.

Community improvement districts levy additional taxes, usually sales taxes, to pay for improvements in the district. The proposed district is intended to raise $2.2 million, the final piece in a public incentive puzzle to pay for the $9.5 million interchange improvements necessary to get traffic to the GoodSports project and to Cabela’s.

It represents a change from the original GoodSports project plan, approved last year, that included $7.5 million in STAR bond money. The state approved only $3.8 million for the interchange project in early June. STAR bonds, or sales tax and revenue bonds, use sales tax revenue generated by a development to pay off bonds that finance major commercial entertainment and tourism areas.

“The message was that we needed more participation in the interchange project,” said Vice Mayor Pete Meitzner, whose District 2 includes the GoodSports project. The City Council set the hearing Tuesday.

Other pieces of the interchange financing include $1 million from a community improvement district established for Cabela’s and $2.5 million in city capital improvement money, a fund jeopardized by the city’s level of debt.

The project is the first phase of a multi-phase effort to build a 423-acre sports and entertainment development at the interchange. The state’s approval last month makes the project eligible for an estimated $30 million in sales tax and revenue bonds toward the $124.8 million first phase.

The first phase is anchored by GoodSports Fieldhouse, a 65,000-square-foot multi-sport athletic facility targeting regional and national tournaments. It will include 12 full-size basketball courts or 24 volleyball courts, and can house team sports competitions for basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, wrestling and cheerleading. The field house is projected to draw 300,000 visitors a year.

Adjacent to the field house will be a 150-room hotel targeting young athletes and their families. GoodSports president Jerald Good and his partners say they are prepared to invest at least $90 million in private equity in the project.

Its target market is the stream of summer basketball tournaments sponsored by groups like Mid-America Youth Basketball and the Amateur Athletic Union, events that draw players, coaches, parents and families from across the region.

The newest community improvement district would reimburse GoodSports developers for special assessment funding that would be approved by the council next month after the public hearing. The GoodSports district would be retired after the interchange improvements are financed and completed, said Allen Bell, the city’s director of urban development.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @bwilsoneagle.

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