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Government

Area Hotels Worried About New Improvement District

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City of Wichita
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The Wichita City Council is a step closer to creating a community improvement district near the intersection of Kellogg and Ridge, near Wichita's Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport.

Private developers plan to build a new hotel and retail space on the land, which the city says is blighted. Because of the CID, developers would benefit from a 2 percent sales tax over 22 years. It has the potential to kick back over $8 million.

Site improvements, demolition and construction of a new hotel and retail buildings are estimated to cost $16.8 million.

During Tuesday’s public hearing, representatives from adjacent hotels expressed their concern that the city is helping build a new hotel while others are struggling to attract visitors.

Mike Aaron, the general manager of the nearby La Quinta Inn and Suites, said his owners have spent millions updating their hotel over the years, and they haven’t received help from the city.

“This [Community Investment District] gives them an un-level playing field,” he said. “I didn’t get money and my owner didn’t get money.”

Susan Estes of Americans for Prosperity agreed that the CID would put added pressure on nearby businesses.

“You really have to ask the question, ‘who goes out of business at the expense of taxpayer assistance?’” Estes asked city council members.

Council member James Clendenin disagreed that the city was subsidizing the construction of a new hotel. He said that the CID is pay-as-you-go, meaning developers will only receive tax revenue when it’s generated through sales within the district.

“If they’re not successful in this market, they don’t get anything,” Clendenin said.

The CID would sit in Council Member Jeff Blubaugh’s district. He says he’s received countless complaints about the run-down area and that the CID will transform it.

A final vote is set for Sept. 8.

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Follow Sean Sandefur on Twitter @SeanSandefur.

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