At a packed special meeting Tuesday morning Salina City Commissioners approved the Fieldhouse Salina project. Commissioners selected a new design, and a way to fund it.
In 2015 the city agreed to contribute up to $4.5 million to the project, with supporters raising private funds for the rest. The project was initially expected to cost $9 million total. But that total was based on 2013 estimates. An exact cost of the project will not be known until April, but it is anticipated to cost more for a variety of reasons.
The price of the original 2013 design has inflated to an estimated $11,856,209. A new preferred design agreed upon by Salina City Manager Jason Gage and Brian Richardson from the private stakeholder group would cost an estimated $12,076,963.
Before making a decision, commissioners saw a presentation of four different design concepts.
The preferred concept, “3X3 – B”, would be 63,420 square feet. It includes an 8,000 square foot lobby, 24,040 square feet for soccer, and 23,322 square feet of gymnasium space. It includes six courts, which can be used for basketball. Three of the courts can also be converted to turf for other use. It also includes an enlarged lobby and more parking.
Commissioners discussed how to fill the gap between the original $9 million price and the new estimated $12 million price.
The city will have the ability to generate up to $7 million in bonds. The hope, though, is to be able to take advantage of tax credits and STAR Bonds to help with the funding.
There is also the possibility that the private group, which has already raised $4.5 million, might try to raise some more.
City staff cautioned commissioners that a long delay of the vote could put in jeopardy the goal of breaking ground on the project at the corner of Fifth and Ash this spring, and then be open for business in the spring of 2017.
Fieldhouse Salina will be more than simply a recreation center. Rather, it will be a multi-use facility. It will house basketball courts, volleyball courts, and indoor turf areas.
Supporters say that the fieldhouse is necessary because there simply is not enough indoor facility room for all of the teams in Salina. Recreation commission basketball and volleyball leagues are at the verge of being capped, meaning that there can be no more teams or participants. Space at USD 305 facilities and at KSU Salina is utilized, but is becoming scarce. The addition of 7th grade sports is a contributing factor.
The fieldhouse will also be utilized for tournaments, and special events, bringing potentially thousands of people to Salina each year.
Once built, the fieldhouse is expected to help generate other projects, and investors. Potential projects include, but are not limited to:
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., and 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.
All of the projects would be funded through private and public sources. Along with the private funding, a key component is 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.
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