By Roxie Hammill
Brookridge developers just squeaked by their deadline last week to submit an application for STAR (sales tax and revenue) bonds for the massive $2 billion project. Tonight the Overland Park City Council will decide whether to wave the application on through to the Kansas Department of Commerce.
Developers Chris and Grant Curtin got a 3-2 vote from the council’s Finance, Administration and Economic Development committee on Wednesday to move the application forward. If the full council passes it on, the state will decide whether the project is eligible for the bonds.
The developers had one year from the bond district’s creation date of Dec. 19, 2016, to submit an application. “If you don’t do that, any opportunity to achieve STAR bonds financing is lost forever,” said Todd LaSala, the city’s legal advisor on the matter.
STAR bonds are a form of financing created to help attract tourism dollars. The bonds pay for certain development costs from sales tax revenue generated by the development.
The committee’s action merely kept the STAR bonds issue alive, but it won’t bind the city to accepting a particular financing deal or project.
Developers are asking $15.4 million in STAR bond proceeds from the total of $43.9 million they believe it will raise in revenue. They also plan to ask for a community improvement sales tax district with a 1.5 percent tax that could generate $10.4 million and a tax increment financing district.
The transformation of the golf course at Interstate 435 and Antioch Road has been slowly making its way through the city council for more than two years in the face of strong neighborhood objections over the project’s size, cost and affect on the neighborhood.
Last summer, developers made some changes in the plan, replacing a pond with a man-made water feature and getting rid of a 650-seat movie theater.
But the project is still huge. With 212 acres of office space planned the project will have the largest volume of Class A office space designed for multiple tenants in the state of Kansas, according to the STAR bonds application.
A completed Brookridge will have 1.8 million square feet of office space, 243,000 square feet of a retail village, a nine-hole golf course, two hotels with 550 rooms and 2.3 million square feet of residential space. A 3,500-seat venue for music and performing arts is also included in the plan.
The bond application estimates 2.2 million visitors a year, with 54 percent of those coming from out of state. “Many aspects within the Brookridge redevelopment will attract various types of tourism, from business tourism, leisure tourism, event-specific tourism and possibly even medical tourism,” Grant Curtin wrote in response to an emailed question.
Voting against the application at the committee meeting were council members Paul Lyons and Dave White. Lyons said the performance venue had not been sufficiently explained, nor had the need for the bonds been justified.
White previously voted against the project. “I’ve not seen anything that changes my mind at this point,” he said.