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Wichita City Council passes additional incentives for Riverfront Stadium developers

Rendering of office and retail space near Riverfront Stadium in Wichita.
DLR Group
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Rendering of office and retail space near Riverfront Stadium in Wichita.

Construction is set to begin on the developments in July.

The Wichita City Council approved millions in incentives to developers on Tuesday to construct a new parking garage and office buildings near Riverfront Stadium.

The incentives included up to $8.6 million in pay-as-you-go Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for the garage and an industrial revenue bond that would exempt developers from $900,000 in taxes.

The plan for the parking garage and office buildings is also attached to a multistory hotel along McLean Boulevard. The land for that area was sold to developers for $1 an acre in 2019.

Some nearby residents expressed concern about an increase in their property taxes as a result of the TIF. But Interim Assistant City manager Kathy Sexton said that’s not the case.

“This is all about commercial development,” Sexton said, “and if there’s incremental increases in their values, then maybe that goes toward that but it doesn’t affect their taxes. There’s no new taxes for residents; there’s no effect on their personal homes or properties.”

Construction is set to begin on the developments in July.

With the council’s approval of TIF and bond funding, developers said this would allow them to complete construction by 2026 – bringing in additional tax revenue to help pay off the incentives, including STAR bond debt.

“The CID and STAR bond cash flows, of course, are generated by the retail development in that area and again that’s why the retail component of their project plan is very important for the financing of this,” said city treasurer Mark Manning.

The area around the ballpark sits in a Community Improvement District, or CID, meaning an additional 2 percent tax is included in sales to help pay for the $75 million stadium and to make improvements.

Manning said at the council meeting that since the implementation of that sales tax, about a quarter of a million dollars has been raised.

Kansas also awarded the city $5 million last week to improve infrastructure along the west bank of the river. Some funding will also go toward a pedestrian bridge over McLean that will connect the hotel and office building near the stadium.