Politics & Government

What will Wichita do with $20 million from Hyatt sale?

The city of Wichita finalized the sale of the Hyatt to casino magnate Phil Ruffin in September.
The city of Wichita finalized the sale of the Hyatt to casino magnate Phil Ruffin in September. File photo

The city of Wichita is figuring out how to spend $20 million it got from the sale of the Hyatt Regency Wichita.

City staff is recommending the City Council spend about $14 million on street maintenance and improving the transit system.

“We have started to zero in on those two areas,” Wichita City Manager Robert Layton said.

That’s because street repair work and transit service score low in feedback from residents, Layton said.

Public Works and Utilities Director Alan King said the city could do spot repairs and put an extra layer of micro-seal on asphalt roads near the end of their service life.

“It protects the surface but it also gives you some aesthetic improvements because you don’t see the individual patches,” King said. “It hides the patches that were made.”

“We’re taking the new streets and keeping them new,” he said. “We’re mitigating failed streets … and we’re doing it in such a way that now adds surface life to the street.”

The process would take about two years and repair about 40 percent of city asphalt streets near the end of their usable life.

“These are streets with zero life. At some point, we’ll need to do total reconstruction,” Layton said.

It would cost about $10 million from the Hyatt proceeds.

“This is a pretty dramatic shift in dollars into neighborhood streets that will help us get caught up,” said Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell.

City staff also recommended the city spend about $4 million to boost the city’s transit service.

“If we’re going to become more effective in the eyes of the community, we need to start addressing some of those needs,” said Transit Director Steve Spade.

Proceeds from the Hyatt sale would pay for marketing, education, more feeder service off of the main bus routes, voucher programs and van-pool programs.

“This does a little more than just limping us along,” Longwell said.

Layton said he wanted council members to vote on boosting street repair and transit service with Hyatt proceeds before the end of the year. How the remaining $6 million would be used is unknown.

The city finalized the sale of the Hyatt to casino magnate Phil Ruffin in September.

The $20 million from the Hyatt sale is in Wichita’s general fund. Layton said the road and transit proposals would be one-time expenditures.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar

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