Downtown Dream Project Inches Forward
Todd Pittenger - March 30, 2015 4:57 pm
A new vision of a revitalized Salina downtown inched forward Monday. Salina City Commissioners at a special meeting set a public hearing date for consideration of a request to form a Tax Increment Financing District and a STAR Bond District generally described as being located in downtown Salina. Notices will be sent to all property owners and tenants in the downtown district for a May 18th hearing.
A proposed field house recreation-center type project built through an even split of private and public money got the ball rolling for a newly vitalized downtown area.
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.
Several other major unrelated downtown projects are already udnerway, including refurbishing the Lee Building into apartments, and a renovation of the Townsite Buidling into apartments and retail space, complimenting the studios of KSAL Radio that are already on the top floor.