Mayor Mark Holland tonight expressed confidence in the downtown Healthy Campus project.
Speaking at a Unified Government Commission meeting, Holland said the project funding is on track and was going well, if somewhat slowly at times.
The mayor reported to the commission that the community center fundraising was delayed almost a year to put together a master plan, and the master plan and vision for healthy living in an urban area has now caught national attention.
Mayor Holland said he hopes to have significant announcements about major lead gifts for the project in the next 30 to 60 days.
There is already a $6 million local commitment, plus a $1 million commitment from the Wyandotte Health Foundation, and together it provides half of the funding needed for the community center, he said.
With both the Kansas City, Mo., and downtown Kansas City, Kan., YMCA projects delayed, that has resulted in the YMCA being able to ask for donations from nonprofits for both centers at the same time, he said, which is a benefit to Kansas City, Kan.
The mayor said that with the plan complete, the UG is now working on architectural drawings for the community center, to show potential donors. There is a funder which is providing the money for architectural drawings, he said.
Jason Banks, director of business access for the mayor’s office, said the UG’s downtown Healthy Campus project has been selected for a pilot program through the National Resource Network that will provide $105,000 in direct funding for initial implementation costs. The network will serve as liaison to public and private resources and partners, and assist with establishment of ongoing management and coordinator plan. It would serve as project manager and leverage national investment, he said. Funding has been secured for two years for a project manager.
The Downtown Central Parkway District plan was adopted in December after several public hearings, according to Rob Richardson, UG planning director. It includes two major parts, a community center to be run by the YMCA and a grocery store. The district extends from Waterway Park to Sumner Academy.
Pat Tobin, UG director of public works, said the green space planned for the downtown Healthy Campus will help in the UG’s correction of the combined sewer overflow, which is mandated through a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency. The plan includes green space, and green solutions.
George Brajkovic, UG director of economic development, said there have been ongoing discussions about the grocery store downtown.
A request for proposals for the grocery store was issued in 2012, and the UG selected R.H. Johnson as developer and the Charles Ball grocery family as the operator, and have been negotiating.
He said there was still some work to be done on the financing side, and there will be efforts to bring other retailers in.
“The key on each of these is leverage,” Mayor Holland said.
The UG hopes to leverage other retail development as a result of bringing the community center and grocery store to the downtown area.
The UG’s plan is being tracked by a number of national groups, he said, and some of them are providing funding.