by Murrel Bland
An Indianapolis, Indiana, real estate investor has proposed to buy The Woodlands which is near the intersection of 99th Street and Leavenworth Road. But nearby neighbors have some other ideas. That was obvious at a public meeting held June 29 at the Venue at Willow Creek, a meeting place at the entrance to Wyandotte County Lake.
Scannell Properties wants to build five buildings that would serve as warehouses. Shaun Cofer, representing Scannell, said the proposed sale would need a change in zoning from AG, CP-1 and CP 2. The proposed change would be to C-1 and M-2 which would allow it to be a business park. There would be five buildings which would have an estimated one million square feet of floor space. Existing buildings would be razed.
Neighbors said that they are concerned that trucks would be able to come and go from the locations 24 hours a day. One area resident, Jamie Brann, said she was concerned that the project could decrease the value of her nearby home.
Another woman who said she lived nearby asked if there was someone there from the Unified Government. Melissa Brune Bynum, a Unified Government Commissioner, said she was there only to observe and learn about the development. Another woman said she did not trust the Unified Government because it promised lower taxes when the Legends was being proposed, yet her taxes increased.
A few other neighbors, including Joe Vaught, a commercial Realtor, said they favored the complex.
The Woodlands was developed in the late 1980s, boasting as one of the finest and only combination horse and dog tracks in the country. It opened for dog racing in 1989 and for horse racing in 1990. During its early days, it attracted more than 1.7 million visitors annually.
However, by 2000, because of stiff competition from casinos in Kansas City, Missouri, attendance dropped to less than 400,000 a year.
The original developers and owners of The Woodlands were R.D. Hubbard and Richard Boushka. They estimated the cost of the project was $68 million.
In 1998, William Grace bought the track out of bankruptcy. Grace died in 2005; his heirs closed the track in 2008.
Phil Ruffin, a Las Vegas casino owner, bought the track in 2015. He is the present owner.
According to the Unified Government’s website, the property, which has about 380 acres, has an appraised value of $8,935,010. Annual property taxes are $373,004.54.
A person familiar with similar warehouse developments said such buildings could be built for about $50 a square foot. That would mean the development, when built out as proposed, could cost an estimated $50 million, or about five times the present value of The Woodlands. That could mean annual property taxes of $1.8 million. Cofer said Scannell is not asking for any tax abatements.
Scannell is proposing to donate 70 acres of the property to the Unified Government for use as a park. The development is estimated to produce more than 1,000 jobs.
The issue of the change in zoning will come before the Unified Government’s Planning Commission at 7 p.m. Monday, July 13. It will be a virtual meeting on Zoom. The website will be https://zoom.us/j/91181470857?pwd=bTU4KoQ1Y2NMOURHaUgvelhZbXZyUT09, password 721618. The meeting can also reached by telephone at 1-346-248-7799. The webinar ID will be 911-8147-0857, password 721618.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.