Sights of the season

Autumn colors are on display this week in Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County. Leaves are falling and more are expected to fall after a storm system moves through on Wednesday, with high winds possible.
Autumn colors are on display this week in Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County. Leaves are falling and more are expected to fall after a storm system moves through on Wednesday, with high winds possible. The high will be in the mid-60s today and Wednesday, then it will fall to the mid-50s on Thursday.

Autumn colors are on display this week in Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County. Leaves are falling and more are expected to fall after a storm system moves through on Wednesday, with high winds possible.
Autumn colors are on display this week in Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County. Leaves are falling and more are expected to fall after a storm system moves through on Wednesday, with high winds possible. The high will be in the mid-60s today and Wednesday, then it will fall to the mid-50s on Thursday.

New hotel in the works near Rainbow and Southwest boulevards

A new four-story, $14 million extended stay hotel with 82 rooms is on the drawing board for 34th and Rainbow Boulevard in Kansas City, Kan. It will be intriguing to see who is awarded the construction contract. One very well respected construction company in Australia is Projeco. You can find out more at projeco.com.au.

The Unified Government Economic Development and Finance Standing Committee on Monday night approved bringing a request for a notice for a public hearing on a tax increment financing (TIF) district for the hotel to the 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, UG Commission meeting. There also will be a notice for a public hearing on the Nov. 12 agenda to amend the Rosedale Urban Renewal plan of 1965 to allow a hotel there. If approved on Thursday, the public hearings could be set at 7 p.m. Dec. 17.

The TIF district public notice item for the hotel was added on Monday to the committee’s agenda and is being “fast-tracked” to Thursday’s meeting.

Developers hope the extended-stay hotel would be used by families of patients at the University of Kansas Hospital, or possibly by doctors. Another hotel, the 110-room Oak Tree Inn at 501 Southwest Blvd., is located close to the proposed site.

Marlon Goff of the UG’s economic development department said the UG has been working with Lane 4 Property Group, the developer, on the Rainbow Village proposal for about a month. He said the development site is an existing retail center with an Applebee’s restaurant.

Goff said the existing shopping center would be demolished and cleared under this plan, while the Applebee’s restaurant would remain and be adjacent to the new hotel.

The developer is requesting about $3.8 million total in economic development incentives, including a 20-year TIF; 20-year sales tax incentive; 20-year Community Improvement District; and 20-year transient guest tax, Goff said.

The proposed TIF district would cover the existing shopping center area, plus some of the public right-of-way along Rainbow Boulevard and Rainbow Extension.

“Lane 4 has been very charged about the redevelopment and the rebirth of the Rainbow corridor, along with some other urban areas in Wyandotte County,” said Hunter Harris of Lane 4. He said he previously spent about 10 years putting together the previous two mixed-use projects at 39th and Rainbow.

He said he spent the last several years scouring the area for additional redevelopment possibilities. Lane 4 wanted to do a complementary hospitality use to what’s been a success at the Holiday Inn Express at 39th and Rainbow, he said.

Harris said Lane 4 is currently speaking with several well-known hotel businesses about the project.

“We view this Rainbow Village project as a great step in moving our progress north along Rainbow toward the Southwest Boulevard corridor,” Harris said. “Ultimately, our designs would be that this project is a step towards additional transformations.”

Lane 4 is looking “for additional properties for how this can be the first domino for additional great developments to fall,” he said.

Korb Maxwell, a Polsinelli attorney representing Lane 4, said they were just asking to move forward on creating the TIF district at this time, with details of a full redevelopment plan later.

“We are in the urban corridor,” Maxwell said. “We are having to buy an existing productive asset, … but we are having to buy that existing productive asset at a value that is substantially greater than we think is fair market value.”

Then they will have to tear down the existing center to bring this use forward, he said.

“We have been extending and trying to find pieces of property to be able to supplement and support what we did at 39th and Rainbow, and importantly, make sure that development happens in Wyandotte County,” Maxwell said. “It has not gone unnoticed, the success of 39th and Rainbow, to others who are just across the state line or just across the county line, in looking at competing projects out there.”

Lane 4 has made a leap of faith in putting it under a quick contract, he added.

UG commissioners were not thrilled about a 20-year TIF term. UG Administrator Doug Bach said it would allow funding for a development agreement that could go toward the project for 20 years.

“These are some concerns I’ve expressed with the developer, that I think 20 years on these different terms are a bit excessive,” Bach said.

Typically, a hotel may need to be renovated a few times during the 20 years, he said, possibly at 10, 15 and 20 years old.

Commissioner Hal Walker said he liked the idea of the hotel with a target audience of families of patients at the University of Kansas Hospital, but he had questions about the 20-year TIF. Bach said the term of the TIF would still be subject to negotiations between the UG and the developer.

If an agreement is reached, it may be brought back to the committee in December, Bach said.

Walker said he is not opposed to a TIF, but is probably not in favor of a 20-year term with no redevelopment obligation.

“I don’t want this to become the gold standard for urban redevelopment that we give away everything that the project brings to the table, and 20 years later we’re left with an old hotel,” Walker said. “We know what we’ve got with a 20-year-old hotel right now.”

The developer indicated a willingness to negotiate on these points.

“We want to do a great quality project,” Harris said. “We want a win-win partnership, as part of these projects, so we’ll certainly look forward to continuing those discussions.”

With this project, there is stiff competition, Harris said. An extended stay hotel was announced in Westport on the Missouri side and quickly got a commitment from a well-known hotel chain that is now not available for this project, he said.

“We act with a sense of urgency, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” he said. “It’s about getting a good quality project done, but also being nimble as it relates to the business environment that we’re in.”

Commissioner Gayle Townsend asked if there was any way that if a good quality hotel chain was brought in, that it would stay there a number of years.

Harris said when the hotel is ultimately selected, the developer will enter into a franchise agreement with them for years. It’s not about being a tourist hotel with interstate travelers, but mostly about trying to improve patient experience and keep guest nights in Wyandotte County from visitors to the University of Kansas Hospital.

“That was part of the retail expansion of the 39th and Rainbow corridor, is to compete with 39th Street west in Missouri,” he said.

Commissioner Brian McKiernan said when the development agreement is discussed, he would like a clearer statement on the benefit to the UG, the ratio of public to private investment, what’s compelling about doing this deal, and a clearer statement on what the percentage of sales tax will be with the CID, the effect of the nearby Oak Tree Inn on this project, and the effect of this project on the Holiday Inn Express about five blocks away at 39th and Rainbow.

Also, he asked about the Urban Renewal restrictions on hotels, and whether they could be changed in other areas of the community.

Mild weather today followed by potential storms Wednesday

weather 3

Severe thunderstorms on Wednesday. (National Weather Service graphic)
Severe thunderstorms on Wednesday. (National Weather Service graphic)

Today’s weather will be sunny with a high of 66, followed by the possibility of severe storms on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

On Tuesday, a south southeast wind of 7 to 15 mph may gust as high as 22 mph. There is a chance of drizzle between 9 p.m. and midnight Tuesday.

Severe storms are still possible across the area Wednesday, Veterans Day, with strong, damaging winds over 60 mph, frequent lightning, and a threat for 1-inch to 2-inch hail and tornadoes, the weather service said.

Storms are likeliest before noon Wednesday. These storms will move out of the area by Wednesday evening, according to the weather service.

Strong winds through the day on Wednesday will bring concerns for fire spread. Outdoor burning is discouraged on Wednesday, the weather service said.

On Wednesday, strong southerly winds between 20 and 30 mph may gust from 35 to 40 mph, according to the weather service.

Relative humidity values will be in the 30 to 40 percent range, but with such strong winds, rapid fire growth is a concern, the weather service said.

By Wednesday evening winds will switch from the south to the west-northwest and pick up to around 20 to 30 mph with gusts approaching 40 mph, according to the weather service.

Thursday’s forecast is sunny with a high near 57, the weather service said. A west northwest wind of 9 to 15 mph will gust as high as 21 mph. Thursday night, the low will be around 33, according to the weather service.

On Friday, it will be sunny with a high near 53, according to the weather service. Friday night, it will be clear with a low of 37.

Wednesday wind gusts. (National Weather Service graphic)
Wednesday wind gusts. (National Weather Service graphic)

Wednesday night wind gusts. (National Weather Service)
Wednesday night wind gusts. (National Weather Service)

Wednesday minimum relative humidity. (National Weather Service)
Wednesday minimum relative humidity. (National Weather Service)