Sedgwick County commission rejects Bowllagio tax district
Sedgwick County commissioners unanimously rejected a tax financing district for a bowling and entertainment center proposed for the intersection of Kellogg and Maize Road.
The $80 million development, known as Maize 54, would include the Bowllagio bowling and entertainment center and offices, retail shops and restaurants. The project also includes drainage improvements that would take some nearby homes out of the flood plain area. The project involves a tax financing district that would use increases in property tax revenue to pay for street and drainage improvements.
Susan Estes, local director with the group Americans For Prosperity, said there are homeowners who are fearful of losing their homes. She said there have been no guarantees that eminent domain would not be used with the project. She said there are residents who don't want to sell their homes.
City council member Michael O'Donnell said there are flooding issues in the area, but that is already being addressed in the city's capital improvement program. He said the project adds insult to injury to other taxpaying companies, and several bowling alley operators told the commission that the bowling community is already being well served. They said their businesses would be hurt by the addition of the Bowllagio center.
Consulting engineer Tim Austin, representing the developer, said the people opposed to the project have presented misinformation on the tax district and the flood plain. He said there is a imited area for the acquisition of properties in the flood plain, and only a handful of properties would be needed.
Austin also disputed O'Donnell's claim that the city is addressing the drainage problems, saying that there is no money in the city's capital program for this area. Austin said the drainage improvements will benefit a large area, helping other property owners in addition to the developer. He said the project is all about flood control, and the money from the tax district will go to drainage improvements.
Commissioner Karl Peterjohn raised a concern about the layered subsidies for the project. He feels the project could be done without the tax district. He made a motion to find that the project would have an adverse impact on county revenues.
Commissioner Richard Ranzau said the drainage improvements can be financed in other ways, and the tax district isn't needed for that. Commissioner Dave Unruh said economic development projects should be kept separate from infrastructure needs. He felt the drainage elements of the Bowllagio project were confusing the issue. He also raised concerns about how the financial numbers were adding up for the project.
With the defeat of the tax district, developers will have to decide how to move forward with the project. Austin said during his presentation that developers have looked at other possible locations in Wichita for Bowllagio.