The acquisition of the majority of Meadowbrook Country Club for a new 88-acre park will be accomplished with an unusual financing arrangement that involves the city, the county park system and the private developers who own the property.
At the heart of the financial plan is a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District, which allows the city to issue bonds that will be paid off from the additional property taxes generated by the mixed-use housing development. The TIF will be limited to 20 years or when the bonds are paid off, whichever comes first, according to Prairie Village City Administrator Quinn Bennion.
The proceeds from the bond sale will be used to purchase the park property from VanTrust Real Estate. The property would then be turned over to the Johnson County Parks and Recreation District, which will own and manage the property. The exact amount of the bonds and the purchase price has not been determined, though the parties believe it will be in the $12 to $15 million range.
The TIF money also will be used to make any improvements to the park, such as shelters or trails or changes to the clubhouse to turn it into a community center. The property being acquired for public use totals 94 acres with six acres going to rights-of-way, roads or other public use. The private development will be 42 acres split among two 21-acre housing developments on each side of the three lakes on the property.
In more traditional uses of a TIF, the increased property taxes resulting from development are often used to help the private developer with the cost of development. In this case, the proceeds will effectively be diverted to the purchase and improvements to public land. No TIF money will be used for private development.
Because the park acquisition is being financed by the new property tax from development, there will be no cost to taxpayers in either the city or county, according to information on the deal released Thursday.
During the press conference announcing the joint agreement between VanTrust, Prairie Village and Johnson County yesterday, Prairie Village Mayor Laura Wassmer said the financing structure would allow the city to achieve two of its biggest Village Vision goals — expanding green space and bringing a community center to the area — without having to raise residents’ taxes.
“Although we’ve had a city council who has been very supportive of those goals, unfortunately as a city we haven’t had the financial means to actually make those things happen without a massive tax increase on the residents, and obviously we weren’t willing to do that,” she said. “What this does is it allows us to accomplish those goals to purchase the park, to purchase and continue using [the Meadowbrook clubhouse] as a community center, and to finance all the improvements…strictly by capturing the increase in taxes generated by the private development portion of this project. We do not anticipate any tax increases to the residents in Prairie Village, and yet they still get these amazing amenities. We couldn’t imagine a better outcome than that for our residents.”
Another issue in the project is a sewer upgrade. Bennion said the sewer line through the park which runs under the “soon to be lake” is “aged and has lots of infiltration.” That line transports sanitary sewer from the upstream neighborhoods in Prairie Village and Overland Park. “The upgrade to the existing line will be a TIF financed item as part of the lake rebuild,” Bennion said. Sewer improvements downstream will be financed by VanTrust in an agreement with Johnson County Wastewater, he added.
Bennion said some details and finances still need to be worked out by staff groups and all amounts still need to be finalized.