The possible end of The Woodlands as a horse or dog track is under discussion, with the property at 97th and Leavenworth Road up for sale.
According to Mike Taylor, a Unified Government spokesman, The Woodlands’ owner has put the former racetrack up for sale to Scannell Properties, which wants to build a 1 million square foot warehouse distribution facility and office park with retail development at a corner of the former racetrack. The current owner, Phil Ruffin, is a Las Vegas casino owner.
Taylor said he understood the deal with Scannell was near closing, and if the sale happens, the development then would need to go through planning and zoning with public hearings. The horse and dog track buildings would be demolished, according to Taylor. The new plans would require UG approval.
About 1,000 new jobs would be created by the development, and plans called for 70 acres between the new development and Wyandotte County Lake to become walking trails and green space, according to the UG.
The selling price of The Woodlands was said to be near $20 million, as compared to about $15 million that Ruffin paid for it about five years ago, according to Taylor.
Taylor said the Unified Government has backed Ruffin’s efforts to reopen The Woodlands during the past few years in the Legislature. Under a different UG Commission and administration, the UG had opposed efforts to reopen. This past session, the Legislature again did not approve a law that would have allowed the racetrack to make a profit.
Taylor said The Woodlands issue did not come up again today in the Kansas Legislature, which was called back for a special session. The Legislature is largely dealing with COVID-19 legislation, he said. He added there was an attempt to bring up Medicaid expansion again today, but it failed.
The Woodlands opened in 1989 and closed in 2008 in a dispute with Kansas lawmakers over the amount of taxes that would have to be paid when slot machines were authorized. Horse and dog tracks were allowed to add slot machines, but would have to pay almost twice as much in gaming taxes as the state-owned casinos.
Scannell Properties is a real estate development firm with headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, that has more than 300 development projects in 44 states and in Canada.
According to the UG, project plans are being reviewed at the local level, and also by the state of Kansas and Army Corps of Engineers.
The Woodlands these past few years ran into some local opposition from neighbors at planning and zoning meetings when it used its parking lot to store vehicles, with neighbors complaining about traffic coming in and out of the facility.