Park City to consider TIF district

A Wichita developer is proposing a major commercial development in place of the Echo Hills Golf Club, and Park City Council members will soon have to decide whether they will help foster the move.

Mike Loveland, an associate in J.P. Weigand's Commercial Division and developer of Parkstone at College Hill, proposes redeveloping at least 125 acres into a commercial and light industrial development along Broadway and I-135, from 53rd Street to 61st Street.

It's still early in the process and it's not yet clear which businesses might move in if the project happens, Park City Manager Jack Whitson said.

Loveland is requesting that the city approve a tax increment finance district to pay for about $4.5 million of the $13 million first phase of development. About $2.1 million of that TIF would pay for land acquisition and the rest would pay for water and sewer work, Whitson said.

TIF districts allow cities to issue bonds and borrow money for public improvements, including land purchases, streets and other infrastructure.

After the development happens, property taxes increase and cities use the increased amount to pay down bond debts.

Loveland's proposed TIF district would be Park City's first.

Park City Council members will vote this evening whether to set a public hearing for the TIF district in January, most likely Jan. 26.

The county and school district have the power to veto the plan.

Park City hired Springsted, a St. Paul, Minn.-based financial advisory firm with offices in Kansas City, Mo., to analyze how the deal would benefit the city. Whitson said the results are expected in mid-January.

Loveland did not return calls Monday afternoon.

Council member Tom Jones, who represents a ward including the proposed development, said many questions still need to be answered.

Jones said he has seen the benefits and downfalls of TIF districts in Wichita, which has seven.

"I'm not totally sold on them," he said.

Jones said there have been a lot of rumors about the development, but he said he doesn't have enough details to know whether it's a wise move for the city. He's also not sure how residents will react to the plan or the use of a TIF district to help pay for it.

"You think it's going to go one way and then everyone else shows up," he said.