Wichita City Council member Jeff Longwell said he may try to table a planned Tuesday vote to support tax incentives for a proposed destination bowling center in west Wichita.
The move comes after confusion over whether the “Gordon Vadakin School of Bowling” is actually part of Jay Maxwell’s plan. Maxwell, an established Wichita developer, stressed to The Eagle last week that it’s only an idea and that he still needs to negotiate Vadakin’s involvement. Allen Bell, director of urban development, said that Vadakin asked the city to withdraw his name from publicity after it emerged in a story in Saturday’s Wichita Eagle. But, Bell said, developers still plan on a bowling training center of some kind.
Vadakin would be key to the project. That’s because Maxwell is seeking STAR bonds, which are rarely used sales tax incentives. The state would have to find the project is a major tourism draw that involves $50 million in development and would generate at least $50 million in sales. Vadakin, who coached Wichita State University’s bowling team to 14 national championships, seems to be one of the keys to becoming a regional attraction. But it’s unclear whether he’s agreed to the idea or even thought deeply about it. He couldn’t be reached for comment Friday or Monday evenings.
Bell said Maxwell’s group — Maize 54 LLC — included the Vadakin center in its business plan. It didn’t specify that the information should be private, so it was included on the city’s public agenda reports and posted online. It’s unlikely such information could be withheld anyway since developers have to show council members how their projects would qualify for STAR bonds. “It’s frankly one of the things that makes it a tourism destination,” Bell said Monday.
Bell said rigorous vetting of the project plan doesn’t begin until the city approves a resolution of support and sets a public hearing (tentatively set for Dec. 1). Then the city and state begin a thorough review of the project to see if it qualifies for tax breaks.