Junction City — A 300-acre site along Interstate 70 will be developed as a shopping, entertainment and recreation center over the next five years, in a public-private project expected to create 500 jobs.
Plans for the Smoky Hill Market Place were presented Wednesday by city and county officials and developer David Christie, president of Overland Park-based D.J. Christie Inc.
Junction City is in the midst of a housing boom sparked mainly by the Army's phased-in buildup of troops at nearby Fort Riley.
Christie said he and a Home Depot official visited the site last week and looked at some of the subdivisions now under construction. City officials said 59 subdivisions with 5,000 housing units currently are being developed.
"How could you not be here?" Christie said.
Besides 600,000 square feet of retail space, the project includes an indoor water park, hotels and restaurants, a military museum, a 4,500-seat arena, a multiscreen movie theater, 14 soccer fields and a softball complex.
City manager Rod Barnes said local officials had been working on the Smoky Hill Market Place development for more than a year. Christie expects site development to begin this summer.
Junction City will build and own the arena. The city is negotiating with a minor league hockey team as a tenant for the building.
Private investors are planning to spend $26 million to build the Roaring River water park and hotel and theme restaurant, city officials said.
Barnes said the community was seeking STAR bonds from the state for the project - similar to what the state provided for development of Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte County. Sales tax from the retail development would be used to pay back the STAR bonds.
Local officials predicted that Smoky Hill Market Place would generate $100 million in retail sales annually.
Christie said that besides the growth at Fort Riley, he was attracted to the project because "they embrace me" in Fort Riley. He recently redeveloped a former grocery store into retail space in the city and is building a 1,300-unit apartment complex.