By Kim Hynes
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
9:45 AM CDT, May 5, 2010
A Wichita developer wants to build a bowling and entertainment center on the west side. But to do it, he's asking for state incentives. The Wichita City Council voted Tuesday to hold a public hearing on STAR bonds for Bowllagio June 8th.
Bowllagio will be a combination of entertainment and retail with the anchor being the bowling center. The city says at full build out, it would be a $95 million project. Developers are asking for about $13 million in STAR bonds.
The project would be located north of Kellogg on both sides of Maize Road. Developer Jay Maxwell says Bowllagio will offer a world class training facility for bowlers and is expected to attract bowlers from around the country.
STAR bonds are a state incentive for special economic development projects. For the bonds to be used, the state must first approve creating a STAR bond district. If that happens, STAR bonds allow the Kansas Department of Revenue to take a portion of the sales tax revenue to pay off the bonds.
This funding mechanism was used by the City of Wichita for the Keeper of the Plains Plaza. The city used $13 million in STAR bonds to finance the renovations and bridges. They were also used to build the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
The state requires studies be done to prove the project will truly be an economic development attraction. To get funding, 20% of visitors must come from out of state and 30% from more than 100 miles away. Council member Jeff Longwell says it must also show that the complex won't have an adverse impact on any other bowling facility in town.
Ray Baty with West Acres Bowling says he's against the idea of incentives. He says his company has never asked for help building bowling alleys and it's not fair to compete against one with incentives. He says he's all for competition when there's an even playing field.
The city council is allowing time for people like Baty to voice their opinions on the project. The public hearing will be held at the city council meeting Tuesday June 8th at 9AM. After the hearing, the city council will vote on whether the project meets the standards to be forwarded onto the state for final consideration.
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