At the December 16, 2008 meeting of the Wichita City Council, a major revision to the development plan of a downtown Wichita TIF district was made. This TIF district is a project of Real Development, whose principals Michael Elzufon and David Lundberg are commonly known as the “Minnesota Guys.”
The changes to this plan were not made in secret, but the document describing them was buried in the 675-page agenda report (or “green sheets”) for that meeting. These changes escaped the notice of any local news media (at least my searches show no stories being reported), including the Wichita Eagle and Wichita Business Journal. At the city council meeting, no one from the public spoke or asked questions. No council members did, either.
The original plan dates from July, 2007. Highlights of the changes from then to now include:
1. Changing from condominium ownership to rentals.
2. Property acquisition costs are now $3,000,000, up from $2,250,000 in the original plan. The city is reimbursing Real Development for these costs as part of the TIF. Probably a primary reason for this increase is that another building is being bought by the city for the developers.
3. The cost of the parking garage is now $6,300,000, up from $3,750,000 in the original plan. This again is paid for by the TIF.
As stated in a document titled “FIRST AMENDMENT CENTER CITY SOUTH REDEVELOPMENT DISTRICT FOR EXCHANGE PLACE PROJECT PLAN December 16, 2008” in Section 2: “The amount of Eligible Project Costs is hereby increased from Six Million Five Hundred Eighty Thousand Dollars $6,580,000.00) to Ten Million One Hundred Eighty Thousand Dollars ($10,180,000.00).” This represents an increase of 54.7% from the original plan.
My understanding is that two garages will be constructed, hence the increase in the cost. Furthermore, the garages are PUBLIC garages.
I hope that they are not public garages similar to the Old Town Hotel public garage where David Burk has taken over several levels of the upper floors for his hotel residents and has limited access.
As long as the City continues to put taxpayer dollars into the Minn. Guys projects they will stay in town. The will not survive on their own and that is why they keep changing their model. The have the same Mondus operandus that the WaterWalk folks have. Don’t know what they are doing, but who cares, the taxpayers are funding their development.
These people sell dreams!
You’re right that we didn’t give much attention to the changes — the unchecked Midtown developer got all the ink that day. But we did notice them and have reported many of the changes. (http://www.kansas.com/business/retail-development/story/653881.html)
And, sadly, there’s a half written story in my e-mail that was intended to be sent from City Hall to the newsroom for publication. The story is interrupted by notes about the Boathouse debate. And they say we journos have short attention spans…
Thanks for pointing out that Eagle story from January, Brent.
That meeting was pretty busy with items besides the midtown developer and this TIF district plan. It’s hard to be prepared for everything, especially when the agendas come out just a few days before the meeting. Then if what you want to speak about or write about requires research, there’s not much time to prepare.
I wonder if there’s some way for citizens to become informed about the agenda-planning process, so that they have advance notice of items they’re interested in.
KOMA has a declared policy “that a representative government is dependent upon an informed electorate” but it doesn’t talk how timely the information has to be. In addition, “meetings for the conduct of government affairs and the transaction of government business be open to the public” but the City of Wichita hides behind the exceptions in order as to usurp the beautiful intent of this legislation.
Mr. Wistrom is being “spoon fed” by Van Williams (formerly Eagle investigating reporter) and now City of Wichita “damage control” expert as to what to write and what to say. Mr. Dion Leffler (former investigating teammate of Mr. Williams) has been reassigned to Siberia (Ks Legislature/Topeka) so as not to investigate the City of Wichita and his old friend.
James, I think that if you’ve carefully read some of Wistrom’s reporting, you wouldn’t be thinking this.
Bob, you are a good man. You want to be fair and balanced. I do appreciate your honesty and integrity. Your thinking is always logical, but the problem is that politics is not about logic. The “left” loves people like you: a good listener, opinionated, articulate, but not a fighter in the trenches.
Regarding the “city partnership” that was approved this week for a new downtown Y, where are these Y people going to park, in the Broadview garage? The Broadview needs a better parking arrangement–across the street is not convenient. The Council already had their mind made up to give that land to the Y.