Editor’s note: The original version of this story in the Oct. 4 print edition of The Times-Sentinel incorrectly stated that the City of Goddard was offering free metered water and sewer for the ballfields and natatorium. That is incorrect – the city is not including that in its incentive package. That was one possible incentive that was considered, and was included in a draft that was shared Sunday by the city with The Times-Sentinel in an effort to be as transparent as possible. However, changes were made before the Monday’s agreement was approved, our story did not reflect the fact that the water and sewer incentive was no longer included in the package. The Times-Sentinel regrets the error.
By Nancy D. Borst
GODDARD – The starting gun finally may be sounding for real on the long-awaited $25.4 million Goddard STAR Bond Development.
The city council on Monday approved a fourth amendment to the development that offers the best promise yet to jumpstart the project, which has been on the drawing board for five years.
The amendment assigns master developer rights for five years from Goddard Destination Development to Goddard Sports, LLC, a company owned by Wichita entrepreneur Rodney Steven. The agreement calls for construction on Phase I of the development to begin no later than Dec. 31, 2018.
“They are ready to begin, and I don’t have any inclination at all that this date will be missed,” city administrator Brian Silcott told council members.
The development will consist of the following:
• 123-room IHG Holiday Inn with meeting rooms;
• 60,000-square-foot indoor aquatic center with 10 lap lanes (25 meters) also with springboard diving capability and a four-lap lane 25-meter warm up pool;
• 600-spectator seating and dressing/locker rooms;
• Indoor water park;
• Four competition softball/baseball fields with stadium lighting and tiered covered seating; one field will be championship all turf; the other three will be turf infields/grass outfields;
• Genesis Health Club, including group fitness studios, cardio and weight areas, locker room, child care services, Kids Facility with licensed daycare professionals; summers sports camps, afterschool programs and play area.
Construction on the natatorium, ballfields, health club and child care facility is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2019. Hotel construction will begin before that date and be complete by Dec. 31, 2020.
Phase 2, which consists of outlying parcels around the hotel/natatorium/ballfield complex, will be undertaken at the developer’s discretion. But Silcott noted that Goddard Sports is “aggressively pursuing complementary opportunities” for those parcels.
There already is additional development in the area with a Dairy Queen under construction, and a Braum’s store and an Old Chicago restaurant expected to break ground in the next several months.
Steven was present but did not address the council. However, Mayor Jamey Blubaugh told Steven he was glad to see that Goddard Sports was being aggressive.
“It’s going to happen this time,” Blubaugh said of the development.
As part of the agreement, the city is contributing $3 million, with $1.5 million placed into escrow to be used for construction of the hotel project. The developer will be able to draw on the funds after construction on a 1-to-1 private vs. public ratio.
Critical to the project also is intersection access at US-54 and Barber Drive. Silcott said the city is in talks with the Kansas Department of Transportation now. KDOT participation and approval is expected.
Any remaining funds from the city’s allotment may be used to turf the remaining ballfields.
The city also agrees to rebate the natural gas and utility franchise fees from the ballfields, natatorium and common areas for 10 years, with a commitment to revisit the abatement for possible continuation.
In return, the city will receive use of the ballfields for 15 days, each year and Goddard citizens and city staff will receive discounts on membership to the health club.
The city will issue industrial revenue bonds for the project, with that work to begin in 30 days. The IRB terms are a sales tax exemption on construction and finishing materials for the project, and a 10-year property tax abatement for the ballfields, natatorium and their common areas. The hotel, health club, water park and other new development will pay full property tax.
Silcott estimated that the city’s share of sales taxes generated would be more than $200,000 per year just for Phase I. Phase I consists of the natatorium, the ballfields, hotel project, health club and child care facility. The hotel will be the last portion to be built in Phase I.
Goddard Sports, LLC follows previously failed attempts to get the development off the ground dating back to April 2014. The STAR Bond District was approved in January 2013.