Several observant passersby have noticed some activity at the site of Goddard’s potential $56 million aquatic complex, and it’s not the encouraging kind of activity.
First a trash receptacle and portable bathroom were moved off the property. They’d been on 87 acres in the 19800 block of West Kellogg since a ceremonial groundbreaking. Then a large semi began pulling construction trailers away.
“Honestly, I didn’t notice if anything had moved,” says city administrator Brian Silcott. “I do know that we are proceeding with the project.”
It’s with a slightly different group of developers, though.
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“The city’s agreement is with Goddard Destination Development,” Silcott says.
That’s Kansas City developer Rick Worner and his team.
“And they are working with the hotel subdevelopers and operators,” Silcott says.
That has been Bruce Neviaser, who is managing partner of Milwaukee and Dallas-based Imagine Resorts & Hotels.
Previously, Neviaser told Have You Heard? how his group was having trouble securing financing. There have been a number of extensions. Neviaser says he’d like one more, but it’s not happening.
“They had to make a tough decision, and they did,” he says. “I don’t blame them for that.”
Worner didn’t return calls for comment.
Neviaser previously said 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.
“We have to eat that,” Neviaser says of the money his group has already spent.
The project also includes $23 million in STAR bonds, or sales tax and revenue bonds, which will be used to pay for the aquatic facility.
Neviaser says a number of factors caused the financing hurdles.
“I think frankly that the primary factor is the credit markets are a lot more challenging than they were when we were doing a lot of our large projects before.”
Also, he says of lot of these types of projects are usually public because the rate of return isn’t good enough for private development.
Silcott says the city is working on an amended agreement with the Goddard Destination developers.
Along with an updated development team, he says there are updated plans as well. They include additional amenities that he says will improve life in Goddard and Wichita.
“Or as we like to call it, east Goddard,” Silcott says with a laugh. “Hey, you gotta dream big.”
He isn’t sharing details yet, but Silcott says he expects the amenities to be a regional draw.
Silcott says he hopes to have the amended agreement in place in November.
“I do feel that within the fourth quarter of this year, everything will be firmed up and at that point can go public.”
He says the city’s original schedule of having the facility fully built on or around the five-year mark will still happen.
“I wish them all the best,” Neviaser says. “I want this to get built and be successful, as I think it will be.”
He says he looks forward to visiting when the complex is completed.
“I really enjoyed getting to know some of the people down there,” Neviaser says.
“We gave it our best shot,” he says. “We’ll survive and move on.”