Archive for Thursday, May 27, 2004

Developers unveil plans for Speedway area

May 27, 2004

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— Several high-end restaurants, including one that features interactive dinosaur displays, will anchor a 750,000-square-foot entertainment complex in the Village West development near Kansas Speedway.

Developers announced details of the $246 million project, called The Legends, on Wednesday. A dozen businesses have committed to locating at the development, scheduled to open in late 2005. Four of those are eating establishments.

Among the more high-profile of the prospective tenants is T-Rex, billed as a 20,000-square-foot "destination" restaurant.

The owner, Rainforest Cafe creator Steven Schussler, plans to have audio-animatronic dinosaurs set amid a backdrop of geysers, waterfalls and ice caves. Besides food, the restaurant will have a retail area with more than 5,000 items and offer an array of activities for children.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., proposes using $114 million in STAR bonds, which are paid off with sales tax revenue generated by the development, to finance the project. The county already has used $160 million in STAR bonds to help finance development of Cabela's, Nebraska Furniture Mart and the nearby Kansas Speedway.

Of the $114 million in bonds proposed for the project, $8.5 million would be used for the audio-animatronic dinosaurs at T-Rex.

That kind of deal irked members of the Kansas Legislature, who passed a bill earlier this month that forbids using STAR bonds to purchase personal property. Unified Government spokesman Mike Taylor said the bonds for the development were approved long before state lawmakers started talking about how STAR bonds should be used.

Dan Lowe, a partner in RED Development, the firm that's developing The Legends project, said the STAR bonds helped attract companies that might not otherwise have considered locating in Kansas City, Kan.

"STAR bonds have enabled us to reach beyond traditional retail tenants," Lowe said. "This unique location has already proven to draw visitors from more than a 250-mile radius and is expecting to attract more than 12 million visitors a year."

Other tenants announced Wednesday: Bozo's Hot Pit Bar*B*Q., CAFÃ TU TU TANGO, Maurices, Ted's Montana Grill, IZOD, Mikasa, Cold Stone Creamery, Sports Nutz, Pride of Kansas City, EB Games, Claire's. In addition, Dave & Buster's, Coyote Ugly, Adidas, Helzberg Diamonds, The Buckle, Granite City Brewery and Linens 'n Things have expressed interest but are still in negotiations.

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