Wichita to hear tax district request

The Wichita City Council agreed Tuesday to set a public hearing for Dec. 6 to hear a request by a developer to establish a special tax district in south Wichita.

Southfork Investment, led by developer Jay Maxwell, made the request for tax increment financing. The council voted 7-0 to set the hearing date.

Southfork recently purchased about 50 acres of land near 47th Street South and I-135. The group also either owns or has the options on an adjacent 22 acres.

The developer plans to create more than 1 million square feet of retail, hotel, restaurant and office space on the initial 50 acres, as well as a medical complex on the other 22 acres.

The financing would be used to pay for redevelopment costs — on a pay-as-you-go basis — and for site improvements that are secured with special assessments, according to a city report.

Allen Bell, the city's urban development director, told the council that using special assessments is a "major advantage for the city."

"We no longer have the risk of the tax increment revenue being sufficient," he said. "The developer makes up the difference through" payment of the special assessments.

In a TIF district, the city estimates how much property taxes will increase because of proposed development. The city gives the developer money equal to the amount of additional property tax that is projected over 20 years. The city gets repaid as it captures the new property tax dollars.

The Sedgwick County Commission and the Wichita school board must approve any TIF district because it affects what they receive from property taxes.

Bell told the council that Southfork also plans to request that the city establish a community improvement district for the site that could provide an additional 1 percent tax.