Salina Downtown Revitalization Progressing

Plans for a renovated and revitalized Salina Downtown continue to progress. The vision includes multiple major projects in a 28 block area of downtown Salina that would redefine and revitalize it.

A proposed field house recreation-center type project built through an even split of private and public money will get the ball rolling. Salina Mayor Jon Blanchard updated KSAL News on the project this week.

Funding for the $9 million field house would be through a public / private partnership, with the city contributing up to $4.5 million. Supporters have been raising money for the private share. According to the mayor, enough money has been raised to continue with the project. “The money is there, the project is moving forward,” Blanchard said. The city is looking at hiring a construction manager and an architect. The goal is to break ground this spring, and then be open for business in the spring of 2017.

The field house is then expected to then 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.