Workers will break ground next month on a $35 million swimming center and hotel complex on the east edge of Goddard, say the project’s developers.
More than two years in the making, the project includes a connected swimming and wellness center and hotel, plus four ballfields.
The project is set to open in May 2016, said Eric Lund, a partner with development company SNL Manager.
It will anchor a large retail and restaurant development that is being developed separately. A Wal-Mart has already been built on the east side of the site.
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Lund, chief operating officer for S&L Hospitality of Verona, Wis., helped build Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Kan., and since then has developed dozens of hotels and resorts.
Lund said he sees the swimming center, called a natatorium, pulling in swimming events and visitors from around the Midwest.
“It may have four to five national events a year, but it could be busy 30 weekends a year with more regional organized swimming,” Lund said. “If you add in the local programming, it could be 52 weeks.
“Plus add in another 30 weeks on the baseball fields.”
He said the hotel will draw business travelers as well as leisure and event travelers.
Goddard Mayor Marcy Gregory said the town has been working for several years to land the project.
The state of Kansas was to issue up to $25.4 million in STAR Bonds, which will be repaid using taxes generated at the site. Those taxes include the state’s and city’s shares of sales tax revenue, the transient guest tax and a 1 percentage point increase in the sales tax charged to customers who make purchases on site.
In addition, the city of Goddard will contribute $1.3 million for infrastructure improvements, and a private source will contribute $44 million. The project, not including any of the retail or restaurants, was expected to mean a total investment of $71 million.
“First and foremost, it will bring a lot of jobs to town, which is nothing but good,” Gregory said.
She said that Goddard residents wanted more shopping and dining within close reach, and the swimming complex will anchor those.
“It will be a regional draw and bring people from all over to our little bitty town,” she said. “And it’s an opportunity to showcase the Wichita area.”
The pool complex includes a 50-meter, Olympic-size main competition pool, which is 3 meters deep to allow for synchronized swimming or water polo.
Other pools include a 25-yard dive pool, which includes a 13-foot-deep dive well; a 25-yard training pool with zero entry; and a heated therapy pool with zero entry.
Also in the swim complex will be seating for 1,250 spectators, training rooms and other space for group functions.
The baseball complex includes four baseball/softball fields, with lights and dugouts at each field.
One of the fields will have turf on both the infield and outfield, which will take up to a 5-inch rain and still be playable. The other three fields will have turf infields and grass outfields.
The complex includes a concessions stand, meeting rooms and a balcony in the center of the fields, plus a sound and webcam system.
The hotel will be four stories with 141 rooms, totaling 88,000 square feet. It will feature a restaurant and sports bar, an indoor pool and fitness room and will be part of the Crowne Plaza brand.
Making it last
Brian Kupferer, head coach and general manager of the Wichita Swim Club, said he is certainly interested to see what is being built.
The Wichita Swim Club is based at a facility at the Independent School, near Douglas and Rock Road, that can’t handle more than 450 or 500 swimmers, he said.
But he’s skeptical. He said he has seen facilities that look good but have developed problems.
His swimmers just returned from a large meet in Tulsa where the facility developed air circulation problems because it didn’t clear the gases produced by all those bodies mixing with all that chlorine.
“Bringing a facility of that size and quality to Wichita is going to be great, but staying on top of it and operating it correctly is going to be key,” Kupferer said.
Lund said he is aware of the need for an adequate HVAC system. He said he has a lot of experience building resorts and waterparks.
His company will manage the facility, he said. He has hired experienced designers who specialize in these kind of facilities.
“It’s a great point,” he said. “Your success comes from the people that run your business.”