Daily Archives: April 20, 2010

Wichita City Council approves bonds for Warren’s IMAX theater

IMAX.embedded.prod_affiliate.80Plans for an IMAX theater at Bill Warren’s 21st and Tyler cinema advanced Tuesday when council members approved $16 million in industrial revenue bonds.

The 600-seat IMAX theater, with ticket prices $3 to $5 above Warren’s digital theaters, is expected to open by Christmas.

Other parts of the theater will also be renovated.

Liddy Dole donates to Tiahrt; Brett goes with Moran

Elizabeth Dole has donated to Republican Todd Tiahrt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in Kansas.

So has the son of Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts.

The donations may or may not indicate where their famous relations stand in the primary race between Tiahrt, the congressman from Wichita, and Jerry Moran, the congressman from Hays.

Moran’s camp, meantime, is boasting of getting the backing of Royals great George Brett, who is taking part in a fund-raising event for Moran within the next few weeks.

Elizabeth Dole, a former North Carolina senator and wife of former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, contributed $1,000 on Feb. 18.

David Roberts, son of Sen. Pat Roberts, donated $1,000 on March 18, 2009, and $250 more on Nov. 23.

Neither Bob Dole or Pat Roberts have indicated publicly that they back any one candidate in the race.

New Lincoln Street bridge and dam features canoe passage

A design drawing of how the bridge and dam will look from above

A design drawing of how the bridge and dam will look from above

A new $13 million Lincoln Street bridge and dam will feature a zig-zagging boat passage transition that many people who canoe and kayak have been wishing for.

That’s just a recreational side of it. The existing bridge is 40 years old and public works officials showed photos of rusty rebar and crumbling concrete to show the aging.

Several Arkansas River advocates waited hours for the city council to discuss the bridge and they pressed the council to build a new bridge and dam along with passages for boaters and fish.

The city could have repaired the existing bridge and dam for about $9 million, but a new bridge would last an estimated 20 years longer and cost less to maintain, officials said.

The bridge, dam and passages are expected to be open for use in 2012.

City Council approves $10.3 million, Exchange Place project is a go

Exchange Place (conceptual renderings)

Exchange Place (conceptual renderings)

WICHITA — Real Development’s ambitious Exchange Place condo project in the heart of downtown will go forward now that Wichita City Council members have approved a total of $10.3 million in city financing.

It was a 5-2 vote with council members Paul Gray and Jim Skelton voting against it and warning that the city is taking too much risk on a project that both city staff and a Wichita State University analysis show needs very optimistic factors to align to work out.

But other council members pointed to the guarantees that would let the city recoup any shortfalls in repayment from Exchange Place LLC and development partners Michael Elzufon and David Lundberg.

The vote followed a wild volley of offers that led to Real Development committing $900,000 more than was expected just a day ago. Of that, $700,000 comes from anonymous investors and $200,000 will be cut out of Real Development’s profits.  Another $414,000 was trimmed from the parking garage by taking one level (or 25 spaces) out of it.

Lundberg said he was “extremely grateful” for the council’s willingness to negotiate on the fly.

“We understand the risks too,” he said as reporters swarmed him after the vote. “We don’t want to start a project that’s going to fail either.”

If the council approves the deal in a second-reading vote next week, construction would begin Aug. 6, Lundberg said. Read More »

Real Development reduces its request

Exchange Place (conceptual renderings)

Exchange Place (conceptual renderings)

Real Development has shaved $1.1 million off of its prior request for a $2.3 million boost in city financing, development partner David Lundberg said.

But that’s still more than the city’s urban development office recommends and it would give the city only a 17 percent buffer on tax revenues. The policy is to have a 20 percent buffer.

The discussion is ongoing.

The savings comes from a $414,000 reduction that would eliminate one floor of the high-tech parking garage, trimming 25 spaces. Another $700,000 would be raised privately, Lundberg said without naming any entity as the source of the money.

Stay tuned.

City changes its brand-new CID policy

The hotel at WaterWalk will likely be the first community improvement district

The hotel at WaterWalk will likely be the first community improvement district

Just two weeks after Wichita City Council members approved a new economic incentive policy, they’re loosening some of the rules.

The tool is limited to commercial projects. But council member Paul Gray wants the districts to extend to residential developments in some special cases. That aspect was deferred today.

Council members did, however, approve foregoing an analysis that examines whether developers really need the government incentives to complete their project. That’s because the sales tax doesn’t put any city finances at risk and some say a letter of credit should be sufficient evidence that the bills will get paid.

Jeff Longwell sworn in as vice mayor

Longwell

Longwell

District 5 Council member Jeff Longwell was sworn in as Wichita’s new vice mayor this morning. He replaces out-going Vice Mayor Jim Skelton, who completed his one-year term.

The position is largely ceremonial. Vice mayors lead council meetings, sign city documents and make public appearances when the mayor can’t. The position is also seen as an important consensus-building job, and it usually requires more work than a council member position.