Schools to benefit from development
The development of a 400-acre tourism district east of Kansas Speedway is expected to shift Wyandotte County's economy into high gear.
Doug Bach, interim assistant administrator for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., is special projects manager on the development of the tourism district. Anchoring the district will be two nationally known stores, Cabela's, expected to open this year, and Nebraska Furniture Mart, expected to open next spring.
"Property taxes from the development, once we have everything in operation, will be about $5 million annually," Bach said. "In comparison, that tract of ground used to bring in about $15,000. So that will be quite a change in property taxes."
Two school districts, Piper (USD 203), and Kansas City, Kan. (USD 500), whose geographical boundaries cross the property, stand to gain.
"The school lines are split between the Piper School district and USD 500," Bach said. "The school district line will cut almost through the middle of Nebraska Furniture Mart," Bach said. "The entire Cabela's store site is in USD 500."
Another key corporate player in the development district will be the Great Wolf Lodge, a part of the Great Lakes Development, Madison, Wis.
"They're in the final stages of planning and are looking at May for groundbreaking," Bach said. "It will be about a year in construction and should open before next summer."
The lodge will be a 271-room facility complete with a 35,000-square-foot indoor water park for hotel patrons. The lodge's suites can sleep from six to eight.
Aside from tax revenue and increased shopping ability, the tourism district means employment opportunities for area residents.
"We're talking close to 1,000 jobs just between those two stores that are under construction today," Bach said.
A bulk of the worker will be pulled from the vicinity.
"Cabela's made a commitment to make 40 percent of their employees be from Wyandotte County," Bach said.
And, Bach said, Wyandotte County and the surrounding area will benefit from an increase in commercial traffic.
"From the standpoint of tourism, these type of stores like Cabela's and Nebraska Furniture Mart bring people into the community from 200 miles around who will spend money."