By BECKY KISER
With no citizens present to make comments and no emailed comments, two public hearings were quickly conducted Thursday evening by the Hays city commission regarding economic incentive requests from the developer of the planned travel plaza at Interstate 70 Exit 157.
Just as quickly, two ordinances were unanimously approved to adopt the D&J Land and Development Project Plan Tax Increment Financing District (TIF, a development agreement, to convey a 4.6 acre property from the city to the developer, and creation of a Community Improvement District (CID).
Kim Rupp, city finance director, called the items the "finish line for the marathon the city has been on" with D&J.
The developers, John E. Brown of Topeka and Hays resident Dan Hess, plan to develop about 45 acres at the northwest corner of 230th Avenue and 55th Street for a travel plaza, truck wash, at least one full-service hotel, restaurants and other commercial businesses. There will also be associated public and private infrastructure, utilities, storm water and drainage, landscaping and parking facilities.
The TIF is expected by the developer to generate approximately $14.95 million over the maximum 20-year term and would be made available to reimburse the developer for TIF-eligible project costs on a pay-as-you-go basis.
TIF revenues will be derived from incremental property tax revenues collected on the project site. City policy does not allow any general or special city or county sales tax generated by the project to be captured by the TIF.
The developer has also requested reimbursement of the costs of intersection improvements at 230th Avenue and 55th Street from a $1.5 million grant to Ellis County by the Kansas Dept. of Transportation and ownership of that property to be transferred from the city to the developer.
A 2% CID sales tax will be imposed on only the travel plaza and truck wash portions of the project to fund certain expenditures on a pay-as-you-go basis. The CID sales tax will generate approximately $2.2 million over the maximum 22-year term.
"Developer improvements (for the travel plaza and truck wash) are expected to begin very soon in 2020 and will take approximately 18 months to complete," Rupp told commissioners.
The balance of the project consists of nine outparcel pad sites for restaurants, retail, hotel, and other commercial uses.
"The developer anticipates selling or leasing those lots pad-ready to other end users. ... The other private improvements are tentatively planned to be completed and commence in 2022 but that's depending on the timing of purchase and construction by end users."
"I'm extremely excited to finally have this coming to an end for us," said Sandy Jacobs, vice-mayor, "and a beginning for the developers.
"We're excited to have this as a part of our community."
Mayor Shaun Musil agreed.
"We look 10, 20 years down the road, what's going to be out there on that exit is going to be huge," Musil said, "and I'm very proud to be a part of this."
The developer's costs will be about $22.42 million while the cost of the other private improvements is about $28.3 million.
No special obligation or general obligation bonds will be issued by the city in connection with the project.