City approves Schulman Crossing, water park plans




Two projects worth a total of $50 million gained easy initial approval from the Garden City Commission on Tuesday, both of them located on the east side of the city near the newly opened Menards store.

One project includes more than 200,000 square feet of additional retail space, while the other envisions a water park, hotel and Old Chicago restaurant.

Commissioners approved the initial project plan of Phase II of the Schulman Crossing retail development and scheduled a public hearing regarding a tax increment financing district for Aug. 6.

"We're very excited to be working on Phase II of the development we brought forward approximately a year ago," Korb Maxwell, attorney with Kansas City-based firm Polsinelli, said. "My clients have been working to attract retailers, going to the International Shopping Center convention and having good luck with that."

The roughly $24.65 million project will add 241,000 square feet of retail space on 34 acres located just north of the newly opened Menards store, which was Phase I of the development. Phase II will house a mix of national-level retail stores and restaurants, according to the project plan.

The project will be funded with a combination of private funds and public money through a tax increment financing district. Roughly $9 million of the $24.65 million project is eligible for TIF funding.

Plans filed with the city show a 55,000-square-foot major anchor store on the south end, as well as five major tenants ranging between 12,500 square feet and 35,000 square feet.

The second phase is even larger than the Menards development. Menards covers about 162,000 square feet on 28 acres.

Maxwell said developers are looking forward to getting the TIF approved, getting a development agreement signed with the city, closing on private financing and beginning construction by the fall.

"Probably the first question on everyone's mind is who are the retailers and what can be said publicly. We can't say at this time as we are still in lease negotiations with those retailers," Maxwell said.

However, Maxwell said retailer names could start being released around the time of the August public hearing.

"We are on a really a breakneck pace. Everything in our internal group is to close on all financing and be ready to start construction by mid-September," he said.

Construction, or at least the dirt work for the site, could get under way by Oct. 1, Maxwell said. If developers meet that goal, Maxwell anticipates about a nine-month time frame to complete construction with stores possibly opening in the summer of 2014.

Due to the recession, Maxwell said he wasn't sure he would ever work on another retail power center deal again.

"The community and all of you should be very excited because that is something very few places in the United States can say they have the opportunity to work on," he said.

Commissioners also approved the TIF district plan and creation of a redevelopment district associated with a water park/hotel/restaurant project.

The proposed development is located at the former Fun Center property near the bypass and Schulman Avenue.

Local hotelier Amro Samy plans to build a $25 million development that includes a 22,000 square feet indoor water park, a 90-room hotel and a 6,000-square-foot restaurant. Last week, Old Chicago was named as the restaurant.

Maxwell, whose firm also represents the Samy development, said Tuesday's action is the first step in a process. Developers will later go back to the commission for project plan approval and a development agreement.

Developers hope to start on the restaurant and hotel in the fall.

"We think what is going on on Schulman Avenue is truly ground changing for this community. We're very excited to be part of this development," Maxwell said.

The project would use two incentives, tax-increment financing and a community improvement district.

The TIF allows increased property taxes generated by the improved property to be used to finance construction of infrastructure for the project, and the CID would allow property owners to levy an additional 1 percent sales tax on their customers, not only within the new development but on sales at the Sleep Inn and Clarion Inn, both Samy-owned properties.

Financing of the water park will also use transient guest taxes collected from the new hotel and the Sleep Inn.

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