UPDATED – This time next year, Goddard’s much-discussed aquatic center and hotel complex may be close to opening.
That may be a little hard to picture given that there’s no physical proof anything is going on.
“I don’t have any bad news on Goddard,” developer Rick Worner says. “It’s just that the good news … is taking longer … than I hoped.”
The $56 million project, which includes $23 million in STAR bonds, is on 87 acres in the 19800 block of West Kellogg.
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Almost two years ago to the day, the project’s developers told The Eagle they were within a month of breaking ground.
Developer Bruce Neviaser, managing partner with Milwaukee-based and Dallas-based Imagine Resorts & Hotels, says unexpected delays kept that from happening. Now, he says, it’s about to.
“Things have accelerated here in the last two weeks, and we’re making great progress finally in getting our financing closed,” he says. “We anticipate closing in the next 30 days. Probably sooner than that. That means that we’d be breaking ground immediately after that.”
Neviaser says he expects the project to take 12 to 14 months. He says he’s already spent $4 million on design and managing the project, which includes a four-story, 141-unit Crowne Plaza Hotel; an almost 100,000-square-foot aquatic center with four pools and seating for about 1,200 spectators; a health club; a bowling alley; a laser tag facility; a video arcade; a sports bar and restaurant; at least four turf baseball fields; and a 3,200-square-foot concessions building.
“It’s a very complicated project,” Neviaser says. “It’s a complicated capital stack the way the funding was set up. Frankly, a lot of lenders didn’t really understand the STAR bond structure, but we’ve gotten past that.”
STAR bonds, or sales tax and revenue bonds, will be used to pay for the aquatic facility.
“The STAR bonds have been funded, and that money is in escrow waiting our funding and breaking ground,” Neviaser says.
In addition to having to explain the structure of the deal, he says post-recession lending has been a big hurdle.
“It’s more complicated getting funding done in general, especially for specialized projects like this.”
Goddard City Administrator Brian Silcott doesn’t seem concerned about the delays.
“Yes, it’s taking some time, but it is moving forward,” he says. “I like to remind folks the K-96 project for Wichita took five years.”
He says he’s also optimistic about what’s happening in Goddard in general, including the area around where the new development will go.
“We’ve had continued growth within the community. The district growth has been consistent but slow.”
Silcott says it’s important to do things in the correct sequence on the property around the sports and hotel complex to make sure the area lands the right retailers and other businesses instead of accepting anything that comes.
“That would be, I think, a misstep in the long term.”
Silcott says that even though the area has been “in a hurry-up-and-wait mode,” he’s “excited and optimistic that we’ll see some significant movement this spring.”
Neviaser says the aquatics and hotel complex will be an anchor for the area.
“As soon as we get started, we’re going to see more activity down there.”
Neviaser says he’s eager and excited for the development to move forward.
“It’s going to be quite a facility. I’m really proud of it.”