By Travis Mounts
Goddard dignitaries joined with Rodney Steven II and a number of his employees for a Nov. 5 groundbreaking at the planned hotel, waterpark and ball field development in Goddard.
This was the second groundbreaking for the project, which is being funded in part through STAR bonds.
“This day has been a long time coming,” Steven said over the wind Monday afternoon. “It will be a great thing for the city of Goddard.”
Mayor Jamey Blubaugh echoed Steven’s enthusiasm.
“I’m excited for Rodney and his team to pick it up and make it bigger and better,” he said, referencing an “aggressive timeline.”
“We’re going to work hard and fast to get this completed,” he added.
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Addressing the press after the groundbreaking, Steven talked about the growth of the west side of the metropolitan area.
“We are excited for the city of Goddard and all of west Wichita,” he said. “I think Goddard and west Wichita…the cities are really growing together.”
The latest proposal includes a water park, something that was not part of the original plan in 2016 but was included in a proposal presented by S&O Developments, who signed on to complete the project in late 2017 but were out a few months later after S&O and Goddard could not come to terms on incentives.
At the core of the STAR bond is an indoor swimming facility and outdoor ballfields. The swimming facility will include a 10-lane, 25-meter competition pool and a warm up pool that is expected to connect to the water park. Five baseball fields are planned, and soccer fields could be part of the project.
A highlight for Steven will be the newest location of his Genesis Health Clubs. Genesis now has 46 locations. That includes six in the Wichita area; 12 in the Kansas City metro area; more in Kansas in cities like Topeka, Hutchinson, Salina, Manhattan, Lawrence and Emporia; three Missouri locations outside of K.C.; seven in the Omaha area and two in Lincoln; and two in the Tulsa area.
The plan also calls for a pre-school and a hotel, although a deal with a specific hotel chain has not been signed.
The latest version of the project also includes Bruce Neviaser, who was heading up the first attempt at the project. That deal eventually fell through after funding could not be secured.
Steven said one of the benefits of the current project is that it targets many different audiences. The swimming competition facility and baseball fields will be a regional draw for families who are into sports. The indoor water park should be a draw for local people interested in a “staycation” as well as for families from western Kansas who are looking to spend time in the Wichita area.
“I’m really excited about the water park,” Steven said. “When my kids were young, we had to travel all the way to Kansas City.”
He said the water park will appeal to children and adults, the way Great Wolf Lodge does in Kansas City, Kan.
The STAR bond project should see construction before the end of the year, and the target for completion is late 2019.
The first groundbreaking was held in January 2016 and the project was expected to open before summer 2017.
The project will receive $23 million is sales tax revenue (STAR) bonds. STAR bonds provide Kansas cities a chance to fund developments, using salex tax revenue to pay off the bonds. The STAR bond in Goddard covers this development but not development to the east. The Goddard Galleria is situated between the STAR bond development and Walmart. It includes Murphy’s Oil and the Dairy Queen now under construction. It’s been announced that Braum’s and Old Chicago are coming to Goddard Galleria, too.
At one point, Old Chicago was to be part of the STAR bond development under S&O Investments, but that possibility seemed to disappear when S&O Investments pulled out of the STAR bond.
However, earlier this year Amro Samy – a principal in S&O Investments and an Old Chicago franchisee – announced he was bringing Old Chicago to one of the sites in Goddard Galleria, in front of Walmart. That restaurant is expected to open in late 2019.