Holcomb City Council approves development





The Holcomb City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance and resolution that will allow the developer of the Holcomb Plaza project to take stronger steps in recruiting new businesses.

The first phase of the project will include a hotel, a restaurant and a gas station/convenience store on property located near the intersection of Big Lowe and Jones Road in Holcomb near the exit of U.S. Highway 50.

The project has a commitment from a hotelier. Choice Hotels, which includes several hotel brands such as Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Clarion and Sleep Inn, has submitted a letter of intent to build a hotel in Holcomb.

Other parts of the development are generally anticipated to include a restaurant, commercial retail businesses, a truck stop/wash, storage units and other light industrial uses subject to zoning approval.

John Foudray, director of development for Regions Development, LLC, of Overland Park, the project's developer, said the council's action Wednesday will allow the property to be marketed more aggressively. He added that the project is garnering a lot of interest.

"I think this is the last piece of the puzzle so we can move forward in getting businesses to come out there," he said.

Foudray said there are three essential service providers necessary to make the development work: a hotel, a convenience store or gas station, and a restaurant.

"The good news is we've had active discussions with all three types. We do have interested parties. I think people were waiting to make sure everything gets approved with the city before making any commitments," he said.

Foudray said now the developer can start having substantive discussions with businesses though it will still take some time to get businesses secured.

"The good news is we have people keyed up, kind of ready to go," he said. "These things sometimes seem to take longer than you want, but we're optimistic and encouraged about getting this development going and bringing beneficial businesses to the city."

After a public hearing in which no one spoke, the council approved the ordinance to create a Community Incentive District around the property. Businesses within the CID will charge an additional 1 percent sales tax on eligible purchases. The developer will state up front how much they need from the CID and when that threshold is reached the CID will expire. Though it has the word, "community," in the title, the CID only affects businesses within the development's boundaries, not the entire city of Holcomb.

The council also adopted a resolution declaring the city's intent to enter agreements with Finney County and Garden City Community College to use new property taxes generated within the development to pay for the development's infrastructure, essentially acting as a tax increment financing district.

The developer will use new taxes generated by the development to help pay for infrastructure such as new streets, lighting, sidewalks, landscaping and water service.

In a TIF district, the property's taxes are set at a base level for a number of years. Then, as development occurs and the property increases in value, the additional property tax generated is used to pay for the developer's initial infrastructure costs. When the TIF is paid off, all of the increased revenue from the higher valued property is distributed to local taxing entities. The modified TIF will be structured in a similar way.

Mayor Gary Newman said the three entities legal counsels are still in the process of reviewing the agreement. The resolution was designed to declare the city's intent so the developer can actively market the property to potential businesses. Newman said the agreement should be acted on by the county commission and college board of trustees in early May in time for the Holcomb City Council to approve it at its May 8 meeting.

In addition to creating the modified TIF and CID districts, the city's share of the project will be to extend sewer service to that area. The developers will be responsible for all the other infrastructure costs, which they will recover through the TIF and the CID.

In September, Holcomb's city council committed to using a $450,000 general obligation bond to pay for sewer improvements for the development. As businesses come online, the bond will be paid back through water and sewer utility payments.

In other business on Wednesday:

* Winners of the April 2 city council election were sworn in, including incumbent Rob McCallister, and new council members Mark Richmeier and Scott Homer. Outgoing council member Jannelle Robins-Gaede congratulated the two new members and urged them to not be afraid to express their opinions and to do what they think is best for the city of Holcomb.

* The council voted to accept a bid of $137,928 from Maupin's of Dodge City for the purchase of a new trash truck.

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