Fieldhouse Project to Cost More Than Anticpated

It appears that a project that is expected to spur a revitalization of Downtown Salina will cost more than was anticipated.

In 2015 Salina City Commissioners entered into a public / private partnership for the development of the Fieldhouse Salina project.  At the time, it was projected to be a $9 million project. The city agreed to contribute up to $4.5 million, with supporters raising private funds for the rest.

Salina City Commissioners on Monday will be asked to more than double the city funding, increasing it to $9.5 million.

An exact cost of the project will not be known until April, but it is anticipated to cost more because there has been a “very significant increase in the cost of both building and infrastructure projects in the last one to two years.”

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.
  • 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 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 underway, including refurbishing the Lee Building into apartments, and a renovation of the Townsite Building into apartments and retail space, complimenting the studios of KSAL Radio that are already on the top floor.

While construction has not yet started, the fieldhouse project has been progressing. A designer, general contractor, and owner’s representative are all under contract.

The goal is to break ground on the project at the corner of Fifth and Ash this spring, and then be open for business in the spring of 2017.

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