Politics & Government

What’s up with the new airport hotel? Wichita scrambles to correct errors before vote

The Wichita City Council is scheduled to lease about six acres of Eisenhower Airport land to a hotel developer through 2069 on Tuesday.

But the numbers in the lease agreement attached to the City Council agenda didn’t add up, and corrections were being still being made late Monday.

The hotel development, worth at least $7 million, is proposed for land north of the existing airport Hampton Inn.

The council, acting as the Airport Authority, is set to sign a lease deal with a company called Wichita Eisenhower Hotel LLC, run by hotel developer Mitesh Patel.

The 77-page lease is on the consent agenda, where the council approves routine and noncontroversial business items in bulk with a single vote. Consent items aren’t discussed in council meetings, unless a member asks that it be removed from the list.

On Monday, The Eagle raised questions about an apparent discrepancy in dates in the lease that could have cost the airport a year of lost rental income, about $130,000, in the fourth year.

The original lease document also would have given the developer control of a second parcel of land, worth $100,000 a year, for 50 years. But the developer would have had to pay rent for only two of those years.

Airport Director Victor White said the errant dates were corrected and the second parcel of land was removed from the lease on Monday.

White said the final version of the lease would be provided to the council in time for Tuesday’s vote.

Patel said he plans a 90-room hotel that would be slightly smaller than the 125-room Hampton Inn, which he developed and sold.

Patel also developed and sold the Springhill Suites by Marriott hotel at the airport.

The name of the new hotel has not yet been determined.

“Until the lease is signed, I cannot have the franchise finalized,” Patel said.

The lease calls for a “select services hotel,” which will include meeting rooms and limited food and beverage service.

The lease requires the hotel be a “high quality, nationally recognized brand.”

The plan involves six acres at 1523 S. Ridge Road. It lies to the south of the Kellogg freeway and to the immediate west of Eisenhower Airport Parkway, the main entry road into the airport.

The lease calls for a complex structure of payments that are set to increase the longer the hotel is in operation.

For the first three years of the lease, the land rent will be $108,715.

From year four and on, payments will either be a percentage of the hotel’s gross income, called a concession fee, or a minimum annual guaranteed payment, White said.

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Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.
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