A Clinton Lake resort hotel won't clash with the natural environment of the state park, officials say.
A Kansas City, Mo., development company plans to open a $21.8 million, 150-room hotel on the north shore of Clinton Lake by May 2001, complete with a restaurant and bar, fitness center, tennis courts and marina.
The firm selected to develop and manage the project, CB Richard Ellis, plan to use "rustic timbers and logs" at the resort. The resort will be a first at any Kansas state park.
A law was enacted last year to encourage developers to construct resorts at 22 of the 24 state parks. The law also would allow the resorts to sell alcohol, which is banned in state parks.
Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer and Wildlife and Parks Secretary Steve Williams announced the selection of the development and management firm for the first state park resort project Friday at the Statehouse. Ellis was chosen over American Executive Management of Kansas City, Kan., the only other firm that submitted a proposal.
"We're particularly impressed with the intent of CB Richard Ellis to develop what I'd call a full-service conference center/resort type of development at Clinton and one that would fit in with the natural setting of the state park," Williams said at a Statehouse press conference.
Company representatives weren't at the press conference to answer questions, but they issued a statement saying architects are working on a design "in harmony with nature and the ecology of the area."
Briggs & Associates, which designed the Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Mo., is part of the development team.
Sherrer said the resort isn't a done deal; the Legislature will have final approval. Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also will review final plans.
The state leases the 1,425-acre park from the corps. The estimated $21.8 million development cost doesn't include the lease to the developers, which could extend to 25 years, Sherrer said. The lease cost hasn't been set.
Sherrer said Lawrence Chamber of Commerce endorsed the project, but local officials didn't offer any incentive money.
The state will pitch in about $500,000 for infrastructure such as sewer and water lines and also will furnish a paved road to the resort. But Sherrer downplayed the state's financial role.
"We're not subsidizing this," he said. "... This is a private enterprise risk. The history of lake resorts is a very tenuous one."
Kansas lawmakers authorized the Kansas Development Finance Authority to issue up to $30 million in revenue bonds to finance the project, but Sherrer said CB Richard Ellis plans to work out the bonds with AG Edwards, a financial services company.
Williams said he's heard minimal opposition to a resort at a state park and that his agency will study the effects it might have on wildlife at the lake, which is a nesting site for bald eagles.
Economic benefits, he said, will "certainly outweigh any environmental damage that may be done on a very small site, if there is any at all. You can develop in concert with a natural setting."
Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the agency will work with developers to ensure local people concerned about the resort are heard.
"We know our community better than they do," she said, "and we know there are people that are concerned."
Business and pleasure
State officials expect business groups to use the resort as a conference center along with families looking for water recreation. More than 350,000 people visit Clinton Lake each year, according to the state.
"We do think it's a great opportunity," Billings said. "It's an opportunity to bring ... dollars in our state that are currently going out."
-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLINTON LAKE DEVELOPMENT TEAM
A Kansas City, Mo., company is leading the development of a hotel at Clinton State Park, but there are a number of companies that will be involved in designing, building and managing the hotel.