New developer at Goddard STAR bond; Old Chicago, waterpark planned

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the Dec. 7 print edition of The Times-Sentinel. This page was updated Dec. 22 to include the full story from the print edition. To see stories like this first, subscribe for home delivery – call 316-540-0500.

By Travis Mounts

Plans are moving forward again for a hotel-restaurant-waterpark development in Goddard.

Nearly two years after a highly-publicized groundbreaking, a new developer is now in place with revised plans that include a 100-room hotel, an indoor waterpark and an Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom restaurant on Goddard’s east side.

City council members unanimously approved an amended development agreement that assigns master development rights from Goddard Destination Development to S&O Investments, Inc., for five years. The vote came at the Dec. 4 Goddard City Council meeting.

The new plan carries many similarities to the original proposal, but has some new wrinkles.

Highlights

On Dec, 4, the City of Goddard reached a new, revised development agreement with S&O Investments. Highlights of the new project include:

• A 100-room luxury IHG Holiday Inn featuring deluxe suites and rooms with bunk beds.

• A 43,000 square foot aquatic center with an 8-lane, 25-meter indoor pool with diving.

• Spectator seating for 600 with dressing/locker rooms.

• An indoor waterpark similar to Parrot Cove in Garden City.

• 4 competition softball/baseball fields.

• Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom.

Timeline

Construction on Phase I begins by April 1, with completion by Jan. 1, 2020. Phase I includes the above-listed amenities. Phase II, including multiple commercial/retail locations, would begin at the developer’s discretion.

About Old Chicago

• Founded in 1976. Owned by CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc., a multi-brand company whose holdings also include Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants and Rock Bottom Restaurants Breweries. The company owns and operates nearly 200 locations in North America.

• Old Chicago operates 60 restaurants with roughly three dozen more franchisee-owned locations. The company is in 24 states.

• Three locations in Wichita, and five others already open in Kansas, including Overland Park, Olathe, Topeka, Manhattan and Garden City. More are in the works.

At the center of the development will be a 100-room IHG Holiday Inn. The facility will feature deluxe suites, and rooms with family bunk beds. The hotel component of the previous proposal included 141 rooms.

The aquatic center component of the project has also been scaled down, from almost 100,000 square feet to 43,000 square feet. The re-conceived aquatic center will include an eight-lane, 25-meter indoor competition pool with diving facilities, spectator seating for 600 people, and dressing/locker rooms.

Gone are plans for a 50-meter competition pool and separate diving well. Those amenities would have been for collegiate- and Olympic-level competitions.

City administrator Brian Silcott said during the meeting that those facilities would have been used for a small portion of the planned competitions. The 25-meter pool, which was part of the original plan as well, is for high school-level competitions, which were always considered to be the biggest part of the competition draw.

The new plan adds an indoor waterpark, and it keeps four competition baseball/softball fields. One field will be a championship all-turf field, while the other three will have turf infields and grass outfields.

The plan also calls for 15 retail spots, including a 137,288-square-foot mall development.

“Through frustration by both Goddard Destination and us…they found or were approached by S&O Investment,” Silcott told the council. “They’re ready to hit the ground running.”

The change means that Goddard Destination Development, LLC – the overall developer since the project’s inception – is out. S&O Investments will be the owner/operator and the developer for the STAR bond project.

Indoor waterpark added to mix

S&O Investments built and operates Parrot Cove Indoor Waterpark in Garden City, a new concept that opened last December. It bills itself as the only indoor waterpark between Kansas City and Denver. The park is open to the public and is connected by a covered walkway to the new Heritage Inn & Suites. Waterpark and hotel combination packages are available.

The Garden City Telegram reports that more than 100 people lined up in 20-degree weather last year to receive one of 100 free two-month passes to the park.

That park, which broke ground in November 2015, covers 32,000 square feet. Parrot Cove is a six-story building with slides that are five stories tall, according to the Telegram. Two of the slides start inside the building and run outside, before coming back in. The facility includes a lazy river, snack area, birthday party rooms and more.

The waterpark, hotel and an Old Chicago location together comprise a $28 million facility in Garden City.

It’s not clear yet whether the new waterpark in Goddard will be branded as a second Parrot Cove location, but it would seem to make sense to build on an existing brand that has been successful.

A new place to eat

The arrival of Old Chicago would bring higher-end dining to Goddard, where sit-down options are currently limited to Pizza Hut and Ginger Asian Cuisine. Marcie’s Cafe closed with the last owner’s retirement, and the building was sold to the Kansas Department of Transportation, which demolished it in anticipation of future highway needs.

Old Chicago operates in 24 states, from Arizona to North Carolina, and from Michigan to Texas. There are eight Kansas locations, including three in Wichita – on Tyler Road near 21st Street North, in Old Town, and along Kellogg near Towne East Square. The Goddard restaurant would be the first suburban location in the Wichita area.

The other Kansas locations now open include Garden City and Manhattan – owned by S&O Investments – as well as Olathe, Overland Park and Topeka. There are two more locations in Oklahoma, both suburban Oklahoma City locations.

Past troubles

In December 2012, the Goddard City Council approved an ordinance authorizing creation of the STAR bond district. In January 2013, the STAR bond district was approved. That September, the project plan gained approval.

In April 2014, the development agreement was adopted. That original plan called for an indoor aquatic facility featuring a 50-meter pool and seating for 1,200 people. In addition, there was to be a warm-up pool, diving well and locker rooms, four baseball/softball fields, a hotel and commercial pad sites.

Rick Worner, owner of Goddard Destination Development, was the master developer of the project. Worner turned to Bruce Neviaser and his Imagine Resorts & Hotels to execute the development.

Worner was known for work in creating Village West, the Kansas City, Kan., shopping center that is home to Nebraska Furniture Mart, Cabela’s, Great Wolf Lodge, two sports stadiums and more. It is one of the top destinations in the Kansas City area.

There was a great deal of media attention when ground was broken at the site in January 2016. But nine months later, Worner told The Times-Sentinel that he was waiting for developer Neviaser to secure financing.

Ten months after that, the situation was largely unchanged. By August 2017, Worner and others tied in to the project acknowledged that Neviaser was on a short deadline.

It was soon apparent that Neviaser was out and that a search was on for a new developer.

Korb Maxwell, attorney for Goddard Destination Development, LLC addressed the situation at Monday’s city council meeting.

“It is with a lot of humility that we come before the mayor and council,” Maxwell said. “It is a little humbling to be before you and not have a project coming through the ground.”

In the end, Worner’s success or failure as master developer of the project became tied to the success or failure of Neviaser.

New partners

After addressing the council about previous delays, Korb introduced a contingent of a half-dozen key figures from S&O Investments, including one of the two partners, Amro Samy. Cecil O’Brate is the other partner in the Kansas-based company. Samy and O’Brate’s company will take over the entire project, bringing all aspects of the project under the control of one company.

According to information presented during Monday’s city council meeting, S&O has more than $100 million in investments in Kansas.

In addition to the Old Chicago that S&O opened in Garden City, the company is the franchisee for the new Manhattan location for Old Chicago, and future restaurants are in development in Liberal, Salina and Lawrence. The company also has created two single-family housing developments, a pair of for-rent duplex developments and a construction company. It is building a Comfort Suites hotel in Liberal.

The two principals in S&O Investments have successful track records individually, too.

Samy has received multiple awards in the hotel business. The list includes Choice Hotels 2016 Premier Hotelier of the Year, Inn of the Year four consecutive years, and Choice Hotels Platinum Hotel Award for five years. Samy owns one restaurant and two hotels.

O’Brate has several oil and agribusiness investments, plus farming operations. Ingram’s Magazine named him one of its “50 Kansans You Should Know” in 2016. He’s been involved in Youth Entrepreneurs, and the O’Brate Foundation has contributed more than $300 million in scholarships.

What’s next

The J-shaped parcel on the south side of Kellogg between 199th Street West and 183rd Street West will sit vacant for a little while longer.

That’s because there remains much work to be done before dirt can be moved. Engineering and architectural plans have to be created. The developers told the Goddard City Council on Monday that construction is targeted to begin by April 1.

S&O comes into the project with financing already secured.

There is a Jan. 1, 2020 deadline for completion of Phase I, which includes the hotel, restaurant, waterpark and ball fields. Phase II includes the surrounding commercial development.

The new development in Goddard could bear a striking similarity to S&O’s Garden City project, where the hotel, waterpark and restaurant are part of one complex.

Goddard’s $3 million contribution to the project remains in place. That includes funding for one turf outfield at the ball fields, and an intersection to provide access to Kellogg at Barber Drive.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be $60.7 million, with $30.6 million coming from the STAR bond district, which includes the new development, Walmart, Murphy’s Express and future development along Kellogg between 183rd Street West and 199th Street West, excluding the existing strip from Harter Physical Therapy west to Credit Union of America. An additional Community Improvement District, with an extra 1 percent sales tax, has been created for the hotel/restaurant/waterpark project. That money will reimburse the city of Goddard for its investment.

Parrot Cove Waterpark in Garden City features two indoor and two outdoor slides, a lazy river, various interactive water features, a rock wall and an arcade. A waterpark is part of the new STAR bond project for Goddard, and will be built by the company that created and operates Parrot Cove. [BRAD NADING/GARDEN CITY TELEGRAM]