City and economic officials provided an update on the local STAR Bond project during Tuesday’s Garden City Commission meeting, including new details on the scope of the project, as well as the timeline for bringing the project to fruition.

“It’s been awhile since we’ve kind of given you an update,” Steve Cottrell, assistant to the city manager, told commissioners. “We’re kind of moving into a really busy time related to the STAR Bond project.”

Last month, Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary Antonio Soave extended the approval period for the City’s STAR Bond district until Dec. 8. It was the second time an extension had been granted.

Since approval of the first six-month extension by Soave, the Finney County Economic Development Corp. has taken on the role of developer for the revamped project, ‘The Sports of the World Complex’, which replaced the previous soccer-only focus.

“We decided instead of making it so one sport, that we should consider other alternatives and look for other sporting opportunities that aren’t currently available in Garden City and the region," Lona DuVall, president of the FCEDC, told commissioners Tuesday.

Cottrell said examples of other sports, in addition to soccer, that fit in the new project scope include hockey, ice skating, rugby and lacrosse.

“Really, any kind of field event that requires a football or soccer field playing surface,” he said.

According to city documents, during this second extension, several steps are necessary to present the full project required for final approval by the Department of Commerce. A feasibilty study, which will have it's first public airing during the Aug. 17 Planning Commission meeting, must be included.

Then on Sept. 5, the City Commission would consider a resolution to set a public hearing on the plan, Cottrell said. That hearing would then be scheduled for Oct. 17, after which commissioners would consider an ordinance approving the plan, he said, adding that the ordinance would require a two-thirds majority vote.

If approved, the ordinance and plan then would be submitted to the state for final approval.

“While that is going on, the Finney County Economic Development Corp. is searching for investors, operators and other folks with interest and willingness to make this project come to reality,” Cottrell said, adding that city officials have had preliminary conversations with their bond counsel and financial advisor, in which they recommended a private placement of the bonds rather than a public sale, which the city typically does with general obligation issues.

According to Cottrell, STAR Bond revenue for Garden City comes from the city’s unobligated sales tax — about .74 percent — and 6.5 percent comes from the state, totaling 7.24 percent.

“It’s a very healthy revenue stream,” he said.

DuVall said Garden City's STAR Bond district is in a good position in part because of the city's growth in retail since 2014, when stores like Petco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Hobby Lobby, T.J. Maxx, Cato Fashions, Ross Dress for Less and Ulta Cosmetics opened in Schulman Crossing, a 180,000-square foot retail shopping center. Between the opening of the various stores in 2014 and now, other stores and restaurants have opened, like Rib Crib and Buffalo Wild Wings. Earlier this year, Parrot Cove Indoor Water Park also opened.

Many communities do the process in reverse, DuVall said.

“They (other communities) actually create the attraction they want to build and hope to attract the retails that will support that,” DuVall said. "In our case, obviously, the retail came first, which is a huge benefit for us because we actually know what our revenues can look like. It makes it easier for us to work with investors because we already know what those revenues are. They’ll know if there’s a shortcoming and what that shortcoming will be and so forth.”

DuVall said preliminary estimates on the project's cost are $20 million to $30 million, noting that more details will be provided when the project plan is presented to the Planning Commission.

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