DALLAS — The small Wichita, Kan., suburb of Goddard wants to issue special sales tax bonds to fund a $160 million development that includes an Olympic-size aquatic center and dinosaur-themed educational attraction.
The Goddard City Council will hold a Nov. 18 public hearing on a proposal to issue $46.7 million of STAR bonds for the project. The bonds, which are supported by state and local sales taxes within a specified area, must also be approved by the Kansas Department of Commerce.
The Kansas state sales tax is 6.3%. Goddard does not levy a city sales tax.
The town of about 4,300 approved creation of a STAR bond district in December 2012. The state approved the outlines of the district in January.
Sales taxes collected by businesses within the 105-acre district would be dedicated to the STAR bonds.
State law mostly limits the STAR bond proceeds to land acquisition and infrastructure, but a provision specifically allows their use to finance construction of a major multi-sport athletic complex.
If the bonds are approved and state approval is timely, city administrator Brian Silcott said the bonds could be issued by mid-December with construction getting under way in early 2014.
The project will include a natatorium capable of holding state and regional swimming and diving competitions, an outdoor pool, softball and soccer fields, a 150-room hotel, and a Jurassic Land dinosaur education and entertainment facility.
The district would also include retail and residential areas.
The sports complex would generate jobs and economic activity in Goddard, Silcott said.
The economic analysis required for STAR bond applications found that the Olympic-size indoor swimming center and athletic fields would attract 2 million visitors a year and create 470 permanent jobs, Silcott said. Another 1,000 construction jobs would be provided in the first phase of the development.
The aquatics center could accommodate swimming, diving, and water polo tournaments, Silcott said. It would be operated by the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
"This project would promote Goddard as a destination, and would help our existing businesses," Silcott said. "It adds recreational opportunities for our residents."
State regulations limit STAR bond financing to major developments designed to attract tourists and other non-local visitors. At least 20% of the projected visitors must be from outside the state and 30% must travel beyond 100 miles.
The development must generate $50 million of annual revenue, and project sponsors have to provide at least $50 million of private financing.
Wichita is helping fund a 347-acre development that includes a large field house and athletic fields with $32 million of STAR bonds.
Korb Maxwell, a Kansas City attorney associated with the Goddard and Wichita projects, said the two developments would be mutually supportive in attracting regional competitions.