Eudora City Commission adds Nottingham infrastructure, debt financing to CIP master plan

Piles of material from the old Nottingham Elementary School wait to be hauled away Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. In September, the City of Eudora contracted with Remco Demolition to raze the old school as a step toward redeveloping the property that the city bought in 2015 from the Eudora school district.

The Eudora City Commission has approved a five-year capital improvement master plan that will allow the city to bond up to $4 million for the improvements needed to ready the Nottingham property, located near 14th and Church streets, for commercial development.

The CIP master plan, approved Feb. 24, lists $37.5 million in infrastructure and equipment needs for all city departments through 2024, including an $11.4 million new water treatment plant in 2024. It also gives the city the authority to issue temporary notes, which will later be rolled into bond issues, to finance an estimated $4 million in Nottingham site preparations and infrastructure improvements.

In 2015, the city bought the closed Nottingham school building and the surrounding 15 acres from the Eudora school district for $850,000 with the goal of bringing commercial development to the site. The property is just north of Eudora’s Church Street exit off Kansas Highway 10.

The city cleared to way for future development last year with the demolition of the old school building. It also sold in September a 1.5-acre lot in the northeastern portion of the property to Casey’s General Store for $840,000.

The Casey’s sale had a 270-day due-diligence clause that assures Casey’s all is in place for the company to build on its site that borders Church and 14th streets.

Eudora Mayor Tim Reazin said Sunday the master plan approval was a step toward making Nottingham ready for Casey’s and other future development by giving the city the authority to debt finance Nottingham infrastructure work. The $4 million for Nottingham infrastructure was an estimate because the city doesn’t yet know the final cost of needed improvements, he said.

The city is working with Casey’s on details of its design plan, which Casey’s will present to the Eudora Planning Commission later this spring, Reazin said. Although the development will require turn lanes on Church and 14th streets, Reazin said he is concerned about traffic flow from large trucks visiting the store’s diesel pumps.

The city plans to pay off the Nottingham debt through the sale of the site’s property and future sales taxes collected at the site, Reazin said. The most attractive of those Nottingham properties are the three other Phase I lots, which all front Church Street to the south of the Casey’s site. City Manager Barack Matite estimated last year the city could sell the three lots for a total of $1.47 million. That and future tax collections from the developed lots and the Casey’s store would provide enough revenue to pay for Nottingham’s Phase 1 infrastructure, as well as provide some money for work on the second two Nottingham phases, he said.

Reazin said CBC Real Estate Group LLC, a Kansas City, Mo., firm that the city has hired to help find retailers for Nottingham, is talking with several restaurant chains about the three Phase I properties. The city is looking for restaurants that offer breakfast or seated dining options not now available in Eudora and will commit to architectural design standards beyond the fast-food norm, he said.

“People are saying we want Johnson County in Eudora,” he said. “We’re not saying we have to have a Johnson County development, but we’re looking for something that will be there for 20 or 30 years.”

The city will also apply for a Kansas Department of Transportation grant later this month that would help with the cost of street improvements, adding sidewalks, curbs and guttering near the Nottingham property. Reazin said the application appears to check all the boxes needed for a successful grant application.

“It seems to me we do everything they are looking for,” he said. “We improve pedestrian and traffic safety and enhance economic development.”