The Garden City Commission on Tuesday approved the development agreement for the Sports of the World STAR Bond project, following negotiations between the city and the project’s developer, GC Investments, Inc.
The agreement reiterates and expands upon terms the two parties agreed to in July through a memorandum of understanding, which laid out preliminary plans for the project’s two phases: the multi-sport indoor field house, trampoline house and outdoor spaces, and additional commercial development that will be negotiated at a later date.
“This was the next major milestone and maybe the most considerable one yet,” City Manager Matt Allen said of the agreement.
As stated in the agreement, phase one of the facility will include two full-size or six partial indoor soccer fields, four multi-use basketball courts, an indoor trampoline park, two indoor baseball cages, four outdoor volleyball, pickle ball and cornhole courts and tournament or conference amenities, including indoor seating for the soccer and basketball courts, breakout conference rooms, locker rooms and event rooms.
A restaurant also will be constructed during the phase, but is not eligible for STAR Bond funding, according to city documents.
Evan Fitts of Polsinelli Law, the firm representing GCI, stated in July that an ice rink would be part of phase two of the project. Polsinelli associate Kristin Czubkowski, who represented GCI Tuesday, declined to comment on what else may be included in phase two, and Allen said he was not sure when the city would negotiate plans for that phase with the Department of Commerce.
“Anything that would be done additionally would need to be consistent with the Sports of the World complex plan that was submitted to the state and approved by the state…” Allen said. “The entire district would need to scale up to have enough capacity to carry a phase two project. We’re hopeful that indeed is the case, but it’d be premature right now to say this is it.”
The approval of the agreement marks the end of the second of the project’s four stages: project approval, development agreement, financing and construction, the latter of which is slated to begin no later than January 2020 and to be completed no later than January 2038, according to the agreement.
Czubkowski told the commission the dates were tied to state statutes, not expectations that the project would necessarily take that long. She declined to comment on when GCI planned to begin construction or how long the process would take.
According to the agreement, GCI will act as the master developer of the over $30 million project, dictating a cooperation and consultation between the two parties.
The agreement included several elements not mentioned in the memorandum, specifically requiring the city to cooperate and facilitate alternative payment methods pursued by the developer and provide utility incentives to GCI, said City Attorney Randy Grisell.
Under the agreement, GCI can finance part of the project through Industrial Revenue Bonds, in which third party retailers are offered tax exemptions, or as a Community Improvement District, which can use additional sales tax proceeds to cover certain project costs, Grisell said.
The city will also credit the facility $300,000 over three years to offset charges for city-operated utilities, Grisell said. If there is leftover credit after three years, it may also be used over the fourth and fifth years, according to the agreement.
Allen told the commission the utilities incentive was meant to help the facility get up and running in its early years, before significant tournaments or conferences may be booked. It also acted as a tradeoff, Czubkowski said, in response to the financial unknowns the large facility would face from a tax appraisal standpoint.
The resolution that approved the development agreement also authorized Allen and city staff to select a placement agent to sell STAR Bonds to finance the project. Allen said he would work in conjunction with the city’s bond council and financial advisor to select an agent quickly, likely sometime next week or in early December.
Grisell said the city did not grant any additional credit enhancements that would "come back and haunt" them in the event of a default. Through the agreement, he said, the city was protected.
“There is no obligation in this agreement of being backed by the full faith and credit of the city, which means that the city has no financial liability in this project … The city, in my opinion, is protected in this development agreement so that no creditors will be coming to the city for any payment of any debts associated with this project,” Grisell told the commission.
In December 2014, the commission approved the creation of the STAR Bond district, which includes the Heritage Inn & Suites, Parrot Cove Water Park, retail shopping centers, privately developed restaurants and retail amenities and will fund the Sports of the World Complex.
In January, the Kansas Department of Commerce approved the project and authorized $25.4 million in revenue bonds for its completion, $24.6 million of which will be used for phase one of the project.
Allen said in an email that after the placement agent was selected, he or she would "prepare a private placement memorandum and begin the process of placing/selling the bonds to sophisticated investors, such as banks or other financial institutions,” barring commission approval. He expected the remaining steps of the project to move forward at a "faster pace."
In other business:
• The commission held a public hearing to adopt the development plan and establish the Rural Housing Incentive District for Northborough Replat of the First Addition, a housing development on North Third Street and Leawood Avenue that will consist of 10 rental duplexes creating 20 units. No one spoke at the hearing, and both the plan and incentive district were approved. Neighborhood and Development Services Director Kaleb Kentner said the high developmental costs for the project would extend city utilities to the area, making future development more cost effective.
• The commission held a public hearing regarding amendments to the 2018 budget added to reflect actual 2018 expenditures, including changes to the drug enforcement, high intensity drug trafficking areas program and recreation commission funds. No one spoke at the hearing, and the amendments were approved.
• The commission approved a request to restrict parking on Labrador Boulevard and Woodland Road in response to a developer’s concerns of parking and traffic problems in the area caused by Garden City High School students parking along the roads and parents dropping off and picking up their children. The commission agreed to install “Two-hour Parking” signs along the roads, which will cost approximately $800.
• The commission appointed M’Lynn Swartz to the Cultural Relations Board and Neil Hawley and Stephanie Rupp to the Park and Tree Advisory Board. John Brennaman was reappointed to the Park and Tree Advisory Board for a two-year term.
Contact Amber Friend at email@example.com.