UG pushes back start of hotel at Hollywood Casino at Speedway

The Unified Government Commission tonight pushed back the start of construction of a hotel at the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway.

The extra time was added to the expected start date in order to allow a UG feasibility study on a convention center to be completed, according to UG officials.

Under the proposal approved tonight, whenever the UG notifies Kansas Entertainment about its “final disposition” on the feasibility study, if a joint project between Kansas Entertainment and the UG is not feasible, the casino parent company then would have 100 extra days afterward to break ground on the hotel. However, the groundbreaking would not have to take place during winter conditions.

If a joint convention center-hotel project between the UG and casino owners is feasible, then the UG plans to negotiate with Kansas Entertainment on a mutually acceptable groundbreaking date and terms for the project, according to tonight’s resolution.

In May the casino had announced it would start construction in October for the new hotel. The UG, however, since then has approved a feasibility study on a convention center to be located somewhere in western Wyandotte County.

UG Administrator Doug Bach said the casino still would maintain a commitment to build its hotel. A feasibility study may determine that a convention center would best be located next to the casino, or in another location in western Wyandotte County, or the study may determine it is not feasible.

If the feasibility study says the convention center would best be located near the casino, then plans for the hotel might have to be discussed and possibly modified to include the convention center, he said.

Commissioner Mike Kane pointed out that it is the UG, not the casino, that is pushing back the start date to explore the idea of a convention center.

Mayor Mark Holland said the casino has been enormously cooperative with the UG taking the initiative to look into a convention center.

The casino had received an extension from the UG of 90 days earlier this year on its decision to build a hotel. The casino’s parent company then agreed May 1 to build a new hotel.

In January, officials said a hotel with a minimum of 250 rooms would be expected to cost from $55 million to $75 million.

Years ago, a development agreement with the UG called for a penalty of 1 percent of the annual gaming revenues, estimated at more than $1 million, if construction on a hotel was not started by February of this year. That date was two years after the casino opened. Tonight’s vote extended the start date.

In other action, the commission approved a resolution to issue $15 million in industrial revenue bonds for a redevelopment project at the levee at Kaw Point.

Buildings will be demolished and a new industrial building of more than 300,000 square feet will be built, according to Brent Miles of NorthPoint Development.

“This is a building that currently does not exist in Wyandotte County,” Miles said. “You lack Class A modern industrial buildings. They don’t exist in your community.”

The $21.5 million project also includes upgrades for one existing building, changes to access, signs and lighting for Kaw Point Park. Eventually the development could employ more than 340 people, he estimated.

He said the building would be ready for tenants in 2015. It will be a good core distribution building, ideal for suppliers, he said. He said the developers have exceeded their goals of hiring women, minority and local persons.

Six of the 22 current tenants would stay on site, while others would need to relocate. While some tenant issues have been resolved, one person attended the meeting to make a comment.

One businessman attended the meeting to say that he signed a three-year lease only eight or nine months ago, and now he is being told to move. He said he was assured of three years when he signed his lease. He said that he had put tens of thousands of dollars into infrastructure, and was offered a compensation of only about a fourth of what he already had invested.

Commissioner Brian McKiernan asked developers and UG staff to reach out to the businessman to discuss his relocation efforts.

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