The city’s special taxing district is expanding.
At its Aug. 27 meeting, the City Council approved an ordinance expanding Derby’s STAR bonds district. The move adds about 75 acres to the district, which is approximately 300 acres. The first reason for the addition is to be able to locate a new business there.
The attraction, called the Derby Sport Zone, would be on the east side of Rock Road between the Don Hattan vehicle dealership and the Derby Marketplace. It is on land currently adjacent to the district.
As planned, the Sport Zone would be a multi-sport attraction including indoor and outdoor sand and hard courts with a games area and sit-down restaurant. One of the requirements by the state of the developers, Derby Destination Development LLC, is that it have a sit-down eatery that is unique to the area.
The attraction had been slated to be near the district’s main current attraction, Field Station: Dinosaurs, but a restriction on the deed forbade alcohol sales.
In the meantime, in a shift of businesses within the district, Wichita developer Rodney Steven plans to construct a youth-oriented athletic training facility where Sport Zone was to go, on the west side of Rock north of the car wash and south of the water tower.
The Sport Zone business had been previously approved by the city and the state, through its Department of Commerce.
Chas Tulipana is the owner and will be the operator of Sport Zone. He also owns and operates KC Power Play, which has locations in Shawnee, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo.
In a brief appearance before the council, developer Rick Worner said the district is on track, but it will take time and urged patience.
“It’s only been two years,” he said.
The Wichita STAR bonds area was in place for five years before retail projects kicked in and a Kansas City area one for seven years before a shopping complex was opened, Worner said.
“Some people expect everything overnight, but development projects take a lot of time,” he said.
He said the district is on a five- to seven-year track.
A second benefit of the expansion, Worner said, is the amount of undeveloped land it adds. While it’s a sizable area, most of the first phase of 300 acres already has buildings on it.
“It’s been filled out,” he said.
In another matter, he said a new hotel in the district has been put on a temporary hold as the market is saturated.
There have been about 1,000 rooms added to the Wichita market since the district started and that’s more than filled current demand, he said.
City Manager Kathy Sexton agreed with Worner that this development will take time.
“Retail and restaurants like to follow other development,” she said.
“Development is a long-term process.”
Some of that is private business owners watching traffic patterns to figure out where and when to place their projects, she said.
The Field Station: Dinosaurs development had a special deadline to meet, so it was accelerated to meet that. The hospital also had goals to meet.
There will be more bonds issued for the district, but the exact numbers haven’t been figured yet.
“We expect to get the proposal in September and then we’ll start hashing through them,” she said.
The city will be working on more infrastructure, including the Amber Ridge access road on the east side of the district.
Given current market conditions, money will be available for additional development.
“It’s not a problem to sell the bonds,” she said.
In order to spur on economic development, STAR bonds were set up by the state.
They operate through a tri-partnership of the state, a local entity such as a city, and private business. Bonds are issued and tax revenue from the district is used to repay the bond holders.
The objective is to create attractions in Kansas that otherwise may not be built if private entities had to pay for all the expenses. The point is to drive both local and regional tourism to the district, which includes not just attractions, but shopping and dining out businesses.
A complex set of regulations governs their use.
Sexton said the city has worked to make the arrangement clear with current undeveloped property owners.
“They understand the expansion has no negative effects on their property, adds no new taxes and could provide positive benefits to their properties,” she said.
Owners of developed land in the expansion area were sent letters, but no opposition has been received.
State officials, who must authorize the expansion, have done so.
In a separate action, the land on which the Sport Zone will go has been annexed into the city and been rezoned from residential to business use.
Dell Crosby, a 2013 graduate of Derby High School and former football player, has been identified by friends and family as the victim in a fatal motorcycle crash in Wichita on Thursday morning.
Wichita police confirmed the accident occurred just after 11:00 a.m. near Lincoln and Woodlawn. Reports from law enforcement said a truck pulling a trailer was turning left into a private drive when an eastbound motorcycle struck the back of the trailer. The truck was driven by a 45-year-old Wichita man.
Resuscitation attempts were made by emergency personnel and bystanders, but Crosby was pronounced dead at the scene.
"I was shocked when I heard the news about Dell," said Braxton Jones, a reporter at KWCH and former teammate of Dell's. "You see these things and you don't really expect them to be about someone you know, let alone someone you played with."
Jones said he transferred to Derby at the same time as Crosby.
"To see the good things people are saying about him from both Southeast and Derby well after we graduated and moved on lets you know it was more than football, and that he had a positive impact on the people he met," Jones said.
Police are investigating the crash scene to determine if speed played a role in the crash. Investigators don’t think alcohol or drugs were involved in the accident. The case will soon be handed to the district attorney's office for further investigation.
Caleb Smith, assistant principal and athletic director at Valley Center, coached Crosby during his days with Derby football.
"Dell was a great football player," Smith said. "I remember his big, contagious smile. He was a force on the field but a teddy bear off it."
Family and friends are asking for help in funeral costs. You can visit this page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/funeral-costs-for-dell-crosby.
Derby Public Schools is looking for volunteers to serve on committees tasked with ensuring a smooth transition as Pleasantview Elementary School closes, Stone Creek Elementary School opens and students are impacted by boundary changes.
“We’re committed to helping make this transition as smooth as possible and want to ensure we have collaborative input on the transition plans,” Superintendent Heather Bohaty said in a memo to school board members.
The district will seek input from staff, parents, students and community members. It included information about opportunities to serve on various committees with Derby water bills sent out in August and also asked for volunteers in its July newsletter mailed to all residents of the district. Information about the committees also is on the district’s website, www.derbyschools.com. People who don’t want to volunteer but want to share input may do so online.
Only one administrative committee will be a closed group.
Bohaty noted that people process change differently.
“There are people who are really excited about change,” and people who are more cautious, Bohaty said.
“The goal of the transition committee is to provide an opportunity to address everything on people’s minds,” Bohaty said.
Andy Koenigs, assistant superintendent of human resources, said “one of the biggest stressors for staff is do I have a job, where I am going to be working and who will I be working with?”
The district will be communicating with all elementary-school staff Sept. 9 and is working on a video message for all staff, he said.
The school board also is scheduled to approve committees Sept. 9. A kickoff meeting with the chairs of each committee is slated for Sept. 12 and all transition committee members will meet Sept. 16.
Committees include one for Pleasantview, one for students and families, one for staff, one for curricular activities, one for equipment and technology, and one for moving and logistics.
Pleasantview is slated to close after this school year. Stone Creek is scheduled to open for the 2020-21 school year. Boundary changes passed by the school board in March go into effect for the 2021-22 school year.