Daily Archives: July 6, 2009

Parkstone at College Hill plans change as costs rise

Parkstone at College Hill

Parkstone at College Hill

Parkstone at College Hill is changing again. Plans for a parking ramp underneath a 14-story condo tower have been axed in favor of a cheaper ramp next to the building, and the layout of buildings has been reshuffled.

But the residential-commercial project northeast of the Douglas and Hillside intersection is still taxpayer-supported through a tax increment finance district. And the new plans, which trim developers’ costs, will need city council approval Tuesday.

Here’s the skinny on the changes, according to city documents:

The number of “brownstone” units will be cut by 21. There will be 83 units in the condo tower instead of 94. There will be more lofts and flats, but less retail space at Victor and Rutan.

But while some costs shrank, paving expenses increased. The $5.6 million in TIF money stays the same. That is taxpayer money that will be repaid by any increase in property tax payments from developer College Hill Urban Village, LLC, a venture started by Mike Loveland.

Allen Bell, director of the city’s urban development department, said the city has conducted another analysis of the project’s financing gaps and that the it still qualifies for TIF dollars.

Developers also ran into increased costs when they asked construction crews to speed up building so that completed units would be ready  in time for the Symphony Showcase, a homes show to raise money for the Wichita Symphony.  Public Works Director Chris Carrier said the city is analyzing those costs to see if the  city should have to pay more for expedited construction. “We haven’t agreed to or denied it,” he said.

Redesign of Wichita’s decaying Broadway bridge up for vote

Underside of the decaying Broadway bridge near 34th Street South

Underside of the decaying Broadway bridge near 34th Street South

In August 2007, public works officials spotted a major problem with the Broadway Street bridge that spans over railroad tracks near 34th Street South. They knew it had been in rough shape. But now it had decayed to the point that concrete was falling off its underside and in  a few spots on the surface. It was about two weeks after the I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis during rush hour, killing 13 people. City officials, aware of the spotlight on bridges, feared it could crumble with the heavy traffic. They closed it. Then, weeks later, they reopened it to two lanes of traffic.

Tuesday, the city council will vote whether to spend $100,000 in local money and $400,000 in federal funds to have MKEC Engineering Consultants, Inc. design a new bridge.

It’s unclear how long that will take, and the city hasn’t set any money aside to construct a new bridge, which could cost as much at $9 million. A decision on funding that will likely come when the council votes on a new capital improvement budget later this year.