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Santa Stash 2017

Redefining Moment For Downtown Salina

Todd Pittenger - March 24, 2015 9:45 pm

A much larger than anticipated crowd showed up at an event Tuesday evening to learn about a vision of a revitalized Salina Downtown. Organizers had anticipated about 20 or so people showing up. Instead, there were over 200 who gathered at the Salina Community Theatre to learn about what city manager Jason Gage said was “a unique opportunity of business people taking ownership and investing time, resources, and money back into their community”.

And what exactly are they doing? They have dreams of multiple major projects in a 28 block area of downtown Salina that would redefine and revitalize it.

A proposed field house project, which will be built through an even split of private and public money got the ball rolling. Since then other potential projects, and investors, have been developed. They include:

  • A high-end, 120-room, five-story hotel on Mulberry between Santa Fe and Fifth streets built by Salina-based Blue Beacon International.
  • Two museums, including the “Wings Over Salina Aviation Experience” and an automobile museum.
  • A bowling alley and indoor fun center

Plans also include narrowing Santa Fe from a four-lane street to a three-lane street. Traffic would flow in one lane in each direction, with a center turning lane. The redesign would open up more sidewalk space, thus opening up outdoor seating for downtown businesses.

The projects would be funded through private and public sources.  Along with the private funding, a key component would be Star Bonds, and also TIF financing.

Tax increment financing, or TIF, subsidizes companies by refunding or diverting a portion of their taxes to help finance development in an area or  on a project site. Star Bonds  would have to be approved by the Kansas Legislature.

Local officials are working with the Kansas Department of Commerce to see if Star Bonds are feasible to fund the project. To receive the bonds, a project must meet very specific criteria including things like generating tourism to the area that include 30 percent of new traffic from outside a 100 mile radius, and 20 percent from outside the state.

Supporters are optimistic that such a large project would thrive in Salina, citing a couple of key figures. The regional area that Salina draws traffic from has a population of about 300,000 people, and in 2012, about $1 billion in retail sales was generated.

It could take as little as 60 to 80 days to determine if  the project would be Star Bond eligible. If it is, construction could begin in as soon as a year.

As Gage talked about the city’s support of the project, he concluded that the supporters “are not asking for handouts, what they are asking is that the city compliment what they are doing”.

Fuchs Mi

March 25, 2015 at 9:23 am

Gage you are so full of it. Some guy wakes up one morning an says I would like to build a recreation center downtown. Gets news coverage on it then finds out he cannot fund it himself and no investors a beating down his door. So he tries to get the city to use taxpayers money to forfil his dream. Now they want to build another hotel or motel downtown!! We just got done destroying one that was to compliment the Bi Center when it was being built and we see where that all went. Be wise follow citizens this is all leading back to the river project. Look at some of the people running for the commission. Do you think that if the river project was not being pushed that the bridge on Greely would have been fixed two months after it was closed. Gage and the commission has done nothing to get that street opened to traffic once again. Its time for us taxpayers to stand up and say no more wasteful spending of our tax dollars.

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City of Salina