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Murrel BlandMurrel Bland
The Unified Commission on Thursday, Jan. 17, approved refinancing for the Plaza at the Speedway development that is at the intersection of 110th Street and Parallel Parkway.
The bond issues include $33,550.000 in tax increment financing and $9,975,000 for the transportation development district. These bonds will help the developer refinance and pay down earlier debt for the development. Tax increment financing redirects property tax; the transportation district money comes from an additional sales tax.
Lew Levin, the chief financial officer for the Unified Government, said the refinancing made sense to both the UG and the developer because of more favorable interest rates.
The project, when first proposed, drew the ire of certain conservative developers because it gave Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, a tax break. Walmart and its sister store, Sam’s Club, are major tenants in the development.
I also recall a conversation with Cherise Sedlock, a commercial real estate agent who put the parcels together for the developer. She said that without tax incentives, the developer would have never attracted major tenants such as Walmart.
Levin said that the development would probably generate about $700,000 in sales tax for the Unified Government during 2013.
The Piper School District suffers from a lack of property tax from the development. Steve Adams, the Piper superintendent, said that he estimated that the district would lose about $4 million; however, Adams did say that the developer paid the school district $1.5 million in lieu of property taxes.
Adams said the district used that money to help buy property near 131st Street and Leavenworth Road where a new high school could be built.
High property taxes discourage development in Wyandotte County, particularly in the Piper community. Adams said that the school district is looking at alternative methods for financing new and improving existing buildings as the district continues to grow.
Adams said the Coffeyville (Kan.) School District used sales tax from a community improvement district instead of property tax to finance school bonds. He said he has discussed such a proposal with Mayor Joe Reardon and Deputy County Administrator Doug Bach. The Unified Commission would have to approve such an improvement district.
Plans were announced recently for the Piper District and the Unified Government to cooperate in building a community center in the old Piper West Elementary School.
Estimates are that the Piper District will have more than 2,000 students this fall. Presently the Piper community has about 10,000 residents; that is expected to double by 2040.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is executive director of Business West.