• Comment

Conway voters will have to approve Central Landing road projects

Posted: March 22, 2014 - 6:48pm

In order for the Central Landing shopping center project to proceed, Conway is contractually obligated to pay to build several road projects associated with the development. How the city will pay for it will be the subject of a lot of conversations at city hall over the next few weeks.

According to City Engineer Ronnie Hall, it’s estimated that the roads will cost about $16 million, which is more than the city can afford using five-year financing. This means that probably the roads, and therefore the entire Central Landing development, will depend on the voters of Conway.

“We need to start putting projects under contract in April or May of 2015 in order to achieve the fall of 2016 completion, which as I understand it is what the developer’s plans are,” Hall said. Late last year the plan was to have the road projects completed by 2017, but the developer has accelerated the schedule to hopefully open the first stores sooner.

“Five year financing” is the standard method by which cities borrow money for large projects. But by law, municipal loans cannot be extended past five years.

Mayor Tab Townsell’s proposal is rededicating a 1/8 cent sales tax that is currently bonded until 2021. Municipal bonds can, and usually do, allow a city to borrow beyond five years. Through rededicating this 1/8 cent sales tax income stream the city could build the roads, but it would tie up this income stream until 2044. Also, rededicating this money would have to be approved by the voters of Conway.

If the voters don’t approve the rededication, or whatever funding mechanism the city council decides on, it’s likely that the Central Landing deal would fall through. This would also be chaotic for the construction schedule at the new airport being built in the Lollie Bottoms, because the current phase of construction there is being funded by a $6.1 million loan that is supposed to be paid back when the Central Landing developer, Wilson and Associates, closes its real estate deal to buy the current airport property from the city for $6.1 million.

It will take action from the city council in April to put the question on a July ballot, or and action in May to put it on an August ballot.

The road projects that Wilson and Associates have asked for are an overpass connecting the property to the Conway Commons shopping center, an access or frontage road connecting Central Landing to I-40 via the Oak Street interchange, and a road running west through the Cantrell Field property to connect with Bruce Street.

It is expected that the council will discuss ways of paying for the street projects at its work session (formerly called a “retreat”) on April 1.

(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached by email at joe.lamb@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

  • Comment
Comments (18) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
David
337
Points
David 03/23/14 - 12:18 pm
1
0
Is this new?

Had the folks who contractually obligated the city to pay for new infrastructure ever negotiated a contract before this one? I've heard that gambling casinos are not legal in AR and now it's becoming more clear why that may be a good thing. On the other hand, why can't I ever get in a poker game with these guys?

Elmer Fudd
3850
Points
Elmer Fudd 03/23/14 - 12:21 pm
2
0
Well

This is what you get when things are not well thought out. Fiscal matters should have been the first thing considered prior to starting these projects not the last. Hardly wait to see how they try to sell this to the voting public. Doubt they own up to what the real reasons are.

greddin
47
Points
greddin 03/23/14 - 02:53 pm
0
1
It's not new

The Council voted to approve the contract for the sale of Cantrell Field last fall and these conditions were all part of the contract with the developers.

Elmer Fudd
3850
Points
Elmer Fudd 03/23/14 - 03:19 pm
3
0
I understand

that greddin. My point is they should have had the financing already worked out prior to obligating the City and us taxpayers. If this blows up heads have to roll.

crypted quill
10940
Points
crypted quill 03/24/14 - 10:30 am
1
1
When you're addicted to

When you're addicted to Corporate welfare...it's a long road to recovery if you're not prepared to take the next step.

Elmer Fudd
3850
Points
Elmer Fudd 03/25/14 - 11:44 am
0
0
Take note

the City Administration are set up to wrestle with these project problems on April 1. Um need I say more.

Lilly03
635
Points
Lilly03 03/25/14 - 12:15 pm
3
0
Ah, another chapter....

In the same book: "Letting our eyes overload our stomach".
About the 5th project that we said 'sign me up', then later, read the fine print and said 'oh wow, how will we pay for that'
Sure, let's extend that tax - means we will get no street improvements around town for years.
And put the burden on the voters- they will dangle the carrot of glamorous stores,not that all the money will go to those few streets and the overpass. Meanwhile, it's like a landmine driving around town.
The voters will loose either way. No stores, or crappy streets.

Igor Rabinowitz
8826
Points
Igor Rabinowitz 03/25/14 - 02:38 pm
0
2
So, really

This is all just an excuse for you upstanding citizens to rugby-scrum city government, amirite?

MessiahAndrw
1281
Points
MessiahAndrw 03/25/14 - 02:54 pm
3
0
I agree with most of you! I

I agree with most of you! I think it's silly how cities bend over backwards to attract big name businesses, offering tax subsidies and free infrastructure - especially when we don't think we're going to make any return on it from the tax revenue generated by the development.

Honestly, I think they should play the same fair game as every else. We already have existing streets and roads fully built. They could have invested downtown, for example, along Markham St. This scale of development would have brought with them a parking deck, the foot traffic from all those shoppers heading downtown to shop at the brand new Dillards and other stores would bring new sales for the local businesses downtown, it would revive future investment downtown.

When HP was built, we spent millions running roads and infrastructure out to them (they say they're investing in the community, but it's ironic when they built right on the edge of town - far outside of the community!) They built their office next to a highway - so regional commuters can rush to get the hell out of Conway. We don't get any benefit from this.

When we continue to build unproductively like this, it's no wonder why we (and most towns around here) tend to go bankrupt.

Conway isn't doing everything bad. We're trying to attract development downtown, with Markham St and some other projects going on. But, who is going to invest downtown when we continue to subsidize and encourage bad development?

MessiahAndrw
1281
Points
MessiahAndrw 03/25/14 - 03:25 pm
3
0
Vote No

I forgot to mention - vote no if you want progress in our city!

We need to tell our city that these 'old economy' 1960s style development (throw subsidizes and tax payer money blindly at any business or retailer that barely speaks our name until they open here) is unacceptable and not the path to a livable and prosperous city!

This is one of the core issues Strong Towns will be presenting in Fayetteville next week - creating prosperous and financially strong towns and cities. (Details http://thecabin.net/news/local/2014-03-24/uca-and-u-partner-host-strong-towns-workshop). Strong Towns travels around the country giving Curbside Chats and workshops. If you're unable to make it, you can find many of their Curbside Chats on Youtube (here's one of the better quality videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efgURk6w8LE)

Back to Top