New Argentine restaurant receives grant

by Mary Rupert
A $730,000 grant has been announced for a restaurant at a development near 24th and Metropolitan in the Argentine area of Kansas City, Kan.

Commissioner Ann Murguia announced the grant at the Unified Government Economic Development and Finance Committee meeting Monday night during a discussion about the proposed South Patrol police station at the same site.

She said the grant was to the Argentine Neighborhood Development Association, which she serves as executive director, to build a franchise restaurant. Already on the former Superfund site is a Walmart Neighborhood Market and a Save-a-Lot grocery store.

“We’re having conversations with Mr. Goodcents right now, but we’re exploring all our options,” she said about restaurants that might locate there.

The grant is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Community Development, and its purpose is to create entry-level jobs for low-income people, she said.

This restaurant will not only create jobs, but it also will broaden the tax base at the Superfund site in Argentine. It is the former site of Kansas City Structural Steel, where steel was made and before that, a smelter for silver and other metals was at the site.

“Because we have a TIF (tax-increment financing) on that site, all the property tax collected will go back to the UG to help pay for the South Patrol police station,” she said. “The more we develop this site, the less money we have to come up with from the general fund for the buildings.”

Murguia said the winter will be spent working on plans for the restaurant and construction should begin in the spring.

About the South Patrol station, UG officials said at Monday’s meeting there would be no expense to the general fund until 2016. All the commissioners at the committee meeting voted to approve adding the South Patrol station to the construction and maintenance improvement project list for 2015. Its cost is estimated at $1.85 million.

At the meeting, Commissioner Gayle Townsend asked UG officials for an idea of what projects will not be done if a project is moved up on the construction and maintenance projects schedule.

The UG was expected to have to pay about $100,000 a year for six or seven years, under earlier projections, and then the revenues generated from the Argentine developments were expected to pay for the building expenses of the police station. That $730,000 grant to a new development will help generate additional property and sales tax dollars.

Murguia said that ANDA would continue to recruit development for the site, and look for grant funds, so that the project could potentially pay for itself. She said ANDA is still in discussions about other potential developments there.

Lew Levin, chief financial officer for the UG, said the prediction was that 20 years in the future, there will be an excess to pay off the current debt obligated for the project.

The South Patrol police station project cost was reduced because of a grant from the state of Kansas for $400,000, Levin said.

Developers ask for more flexibility in U.S. Soccer national training facility plans

Project developers asked the Unified Government Commission for some flexibility in the U.S. Soccer training center project planned on vacant land near Schlitterbahn water park in Kansas City, Kan.

Mentioned tonight by developers was the possibility of adding Olympic training to the mix of uses.

The $62 million development includes a 100,000-square-foot U.S. Soccer national training center at a $26 million cost, futsal courts, and tournament fields at a $17.5 million cost, and $10 million for land acquisition, according to UG documents. An extended-stay hotel and restaurant sites were part of the proposal. The concept of the expanded STAR bond Vacation Village district was approved last month.

At the Unified Government Economic Development and Finance Committee meeting Monday night, officials with the project said they would like to have the flexibility to trade the location of some of the project, for example, potentially the youth field areas with some of the items in the training center area.

The two areas that are being considered for trading are one 35-acre site that is located on Parallel Parkway on the north side of the property, and another area of 125 acres located on the south and east of 94th and State Avenue on the former Speer farm property.

Chase Simmons with the Polsinelli law firm, representing the developer, said some of the details of the agreement are still in negotiation. He said that originally the U.S. Soccer building and its fields would go to the north side on Schlitterbahn property, and the youth fields to the east on the Speer property.

“There have now been a lot of ideas thrown about,” Simmons said. This included everything from putting the entire development on the Speer property, to mixing and matching the various parts of the development on the two pieces of land.

Robb Heineman, CEO of OnGoal, the parent of Sporting Kansas City, said the goal was to build the preeminent sports training complex in the nation anchored by U.S. Soccer. He also said the Schlitterbahn owners have been very helpful with the project.

“As we continue to look at site design,” Heineman said, “and in talking to other groups in addition to not only U.S. Soccer, but other Olympic-type opportunities, we just want to have flexibility with how we develop the site.

“I think there’s a huge opportunity for us to get a lot of the Olympic training assets that are located today in Chula Vista, Calif., which is looking for a new home, to relocate to the site,” Heineman said. “That’s something that I would like to have the opportunity to provide to them, if we had the appropriate kind of indoor facilities, which will be contained already in the original building that we are building, and also had some additional land to potentially build them fields or other space that may be attractive to them.”

What they will all bring, he said, is economic development, whether it is room nights or conferences.

“As U.S. Soccer has gotten more invested in this whole site design, they have begun to bring us bigger investment opportunity ideas for their long-term growth plans,” Heineman said. “I want to make sure I’ve got land to accommodate that.”

All of the project would have to come back to the planning and zoning meetings for approval, and according to the developers, they wanted to hear now if there were any commission objections to flexibility in the project plans.

Simmons said he believed there was enough land in this project for the proposed uses, although there were some environmental issues and some deed restrictions.

If the U.S. Soccer building does not end up on the Schlitterbahn property on Parallel, then Schlitterbahn does not have to fulfill the obligation to build the extended-stay hotel or restaurants, project officials said. The hotel location is conditional upon the training facility being there.
UG Administrator Doug Bach said in that case, the negotiators would have to continue to work on fulfilling it at the other site, or have some further discussion with Schlitterbahn so it could be built in another way.

Bach said the proposal involving U.S. Soccer was built on the assumption that there would not be any property taxes on the soccer training facility. The hotel portion, if moved to the other site, would pay property taxes.

Only incremental, new revenues from sales taxes at Village West would go toward this project, according to the proposed development agreement. For example, the proposed agreement stated, if existing sales tax revenues at Village West in the last year of the existing STAR bonds were $40 million, and in the following year sales taxes generated at Village West were $42 million, only the new $2 million of sales taxes could be used to pay the national training center bonds, while the other $40 million in sales taxes would go to the UG, the state and other taxing jurisdictions.

While the tax portion from the training center project would be fairly small, the economic impact to the surrounding area is expected to be large in increasing sales taxes and contributing to the success of the surrounding area, according to Simmons.

Bach said initial projections are that there is a potential that the income generated by this project will be more than its overall costs, through the years.

Commissioner Gayle Townsend said her only concern about flexibility is that the UG not lose some other opportunity, or that the cost increases for the project. She also referred to the potential loss of the hotel if the site is moved.

UG commissioners attending the meeting Monday did not voice any strong objections to the flexibility request, and UG officials said they and other commissioners could contact UG administrators if they have any questions or concerns during the next several days. The commissioners participating in the committee discussion tonight were not from the western Wyandotte County districts.

The proposed development agreement currently calls for the placement of eight futsal courts throughout Wyandotte County, including: four futsal courts built over existing tennis courts at Bethany Park, Highland Park, Welborn Park and Westheight Park, with the developer paying for construction; four new futsal courts, ground-up construction at Edwardsville Park, Harmon High School, Garland Park and Vega Field, with the UG providing the asphalt base and the developer paying for the rest; four new futsal courts built in connection with the National Training and Coaching Center on Schlitterbahn property, with the developer responsible for the costs. The developer will continue maintaining the two existing futsal courts at Wyandotte High School.

The proposed agreement also calls for the developer to build 12 tournament fields, but they will not be at Wyandotte County Park as originally planned. They are expected to be on parts of this Vacation Village STAR district. Eight of the 12 fields would be for daily use and tournaments, and four of the 12 fields would be dual use for tournaments and U.S. Soccer training .

Original plans were for eight fields to be on the Speer property, while four would be next to the U.S. Soccer training facility. The moving of these fields is part of the current discussion.

The development agreement is expected to come before the full UG Commission at a date in October, according to UG officials. The proposed agreement states that OnGoal has a target date of May 1, 2016, for completion of the U.S. Soccer training complex.

Newborns at KU Hospital sport KC Royals caps

The Kansas City Royals are in the playoffs and intend to take the crown. They’re even finding support among the youngest of fans.

Newborns in the Mother-Baby unit at The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., are sporting pink and blue Royals caps. Employees and parents are both rooting for the Royals as they make their first post-season appearance, in 29 years, Tuesday night in a Wild Card game at Kauffman Stadium.

“We encourage employees to wear a sea of blue tomorrow and show their support as the Royals take on the Oakland A’s,” Bob Page, president and CEO, said.

Newborns Olivia Campos and Christoph Xavier Rose both seemed to enjoy their caps making their parents all the more proud to be Royals fans.

The hospital is in its fourth year as the official health care provider to the major league club.

To see a KU Hospital video on the newborns, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU1KlUMxikM

– Story and video from KU Hospital