The plan to put a green space and a parking garage with apartments advanced at Thursday night’s Unified Government Commission meeting.
The proposal for the Legends ordinance, resolutions and community improvement district passed unanimously.
Proposed is a new apartment and parking garage structure, along with a green space on the west end of the Legends Outlets that would have a large video screen. It is an expansion of the project that was originally proposed in 2015, according to developers.
Jon Stephens, UG economic development director, said the new CID sales tax would total 1 percent, and the former .6 percent CID sales tax would end. The CID would go toward the parking garage and common area improvements. The CID is expected to generate $26.5 million to fund improvements, he said.
An existing .6 percent transportation development district funding previous infrastructure work will remain unchanged, and has about 10 years remaining, he said.
He also said there were minority, women and local agreements in effect for the project, with penalties for not meeting them.
The garage and apartments portion is a $64.3 million project, he said. It would construct at least 265 high-end apartments over a parking garage with spaces for 615 vehicles. Of the parking spaces, a minimum of 350 would be reserved for the public, he added.
Industrial revenue bonds would be issued, with no property tax abatement, he said. The developer will pay a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, he said. The project would be completed by Dec. 31, 2020.
The CID proceeds would only go toward the garage, land, sidewalk and landscape portion of the project and are capped at $17.5 million, he said.
The West Lawn improvement is a $27.6 million project, Stephens said, including improvements to the Legends shopping area. Industrial revenue bonds will be issued for it, but there will be no property tax abatement, he added. It will be capped at $9 million in CID funds, and will be used for public improvements, not individual tenant improvements.
Greg Musil, an attorney representing the West Lawn and Legends apartment projects, said when the project first came before the commission it proposed an initial CID of .6 percent.
“This is an expansion of the project you approved in 2015,” he said. “It will continue the Legends apartments on top of a 650-car parking garage but it will also increase the number of those apartments, and increase the quality of those apartments.”
Demand is different today than a few years ago, he said. Demand is still hot, but people like smaller apartments with higher quality amenities, he added. There will be 300 units instead of the 260 originally anticipated, he said.
The parking garage will be slightly bigger, he added.
The West Lawn development will be expanded, he added. Retailers in that area will keep competitive and keep drawing shoppers to the county. According to the Legacy plans, it will include landscaping improvements and replacement, a video board on the smokestack, shade structures, new signs, an enclosed escalator, new Legends monuments and façade improvements.
Total investment in the two projects is about $100 million, Musil said, including about $64 million in the garage-apartments, of which about $17 million is from the CID. About $40 million is the total for the West Lawn improvements, with about $9 million from the CID, he added.
Most of the project costs are funded by private investment, he said. The CID contributions are capped.
“Retail competition continues to get stronger throughout, not just this county, but throughout the metro area,” Musil said. He added that he knows the UG wants shoppers like himself to continue to drive here and shop at The Legends, and these improvements should help its competitiveness.
John Hansen with IRR, finance consultant to the developer, said they are still working through final designs on the parking structure. Answering a question from Commissioner Jim Walters, he said the public should have access to the parking garage at all times, and there will be a gated area of the garage for parking spaces for persons who live in the apartments.
Addressing Commissioner Walters’ concerns, Dan Lowe with Legacy Development said there will be another professional firm managing the apartments. Individuals at the apartments will register cars, so that they will know if the cars are in the private apartment area. If cars from apartment renters are in the public spaces, they will be able to be cited, he added.
“We do anticipate monitoring the crossover, and we will do everything we can to make sure that public spaces are not used for private use,” Lowe said.
“Parking at the shopping center is at short supply sometimes, due to your wonderful success at retailing, but I do hope that public parking is available to the public who want to come and visit the Legends as opposed to the residents who want to keep a car there around the clock,” Commissioner Walters said.
Lowe responded they would monitor it. Lowe also said there was a plan to resurface the parking lots at the Legends.
UG saves about $4.8 million on refinancing bonds
In other action, the UG Commission heard a report from Debbie Jonscher, deputy finance director, about a bond sale refinancing on Monday, Dec. 18.
She said an advance refunding was done to generate future interest savings. Because of the anticipated passage of the federal tax reform bill, the UG wanted to push this forward before the end of the year, she said. Usually, the UG refinances in January, but this tax bill eliminates municipalities’ ability to do an advance refunding on tax-exempt bonds after Dec. 31, she added.
The UG anticipated a 9.5 percent savings on its bond issue, she said, and it was achieved. As part of the refinancing, the UG received credit ratings of AA from Standard and Poor with a stable outlook, and A1 with a stable outlook from Moody’s, she said. There was nothing new cited in the credit report, she added.
The result of the refinancing is the UG will save about $483,000 per year, for a total of $4.8 million over the 10-year remaining term of the bonds, Jonscher said.
Mayor Mark Holland said that moving the UG meeting to Dec. 21 allowed the UG to accept the bond sales in their completion before the end of the year.
In other action, the UG Commission voted to approve the sale of the used UG vehicle the mayor now drives, to be sold to the mayor for $18,000.
There also was a presentation on the Indian Springs feedback, where more than 800 persons participated in a community engagement process. There are plans to post the results online, according to UG officials. No action was taken after the presentation.
The UG Commission also approved the UG’s legislative platform, after an amendment by Commissioner Mike Kane concerning The Woodlands. The platform takes a neutral stance on The Woodlands.
A number of items also were passed in the UG’s consent agenda.
Also, plaques were presented by Commissioner Melissa Bynum to Mayor Holland and Commissioner Walker honoring their years of service to the Unified Government. They were attending their last meeting.
“I was privileged to serve with each and every one of you,” Commissioner Walker, who did not run for re-election, said. “Even in those times when we got hot and disagreed, there was a learning process and an appreciation that occurs. Certainly, while there are more important things in life than serving on an elected body, this will always be one of the highlights of my career.”
Mayor Holland, who served as a commissioner before being elected mayor, thanked the commissioners, employees and staff of the UG. “We have a great team of 2,200 employees who work hard every single day on behalf of this city,” Mayor Holland said. He cited the staff in the mayor’s office, also.
He also said he wanted to thank the 165,000 citizens of Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County.
“What an honor it is to serve as an elected official, and certainly as mayor, of my hometown. I thank you for the privilege of serving, the opportunity to serve. Ten years of elected office has been a great honor,” he said.
Mayor Holland also thanked his family, and said it was a sacrifice for the family for him to serve.
“I give honor to God for the privilege and for the opportunity to serve in Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County,” he said.
To see more details from this meeting, visit the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=figKWQUq0fY .