- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - The Salina City Commission has approved the first step in a process that could lead to an estimated $122 million overhaul of the city’s downtown area.

Preliminary plans call for a field house, an apartment complex, a family entertainment center, two museums, a hotel and room for several retail and entertainment venues. The project could create nearly 840 jobs, the Salina Journal (https://bit.ly/1IIWIcA) reported.

Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary Pat George said in a letter that the project would have an economic impact of around $134 million. The field house is projected to draw over 90,000 visitors each year, many of them from outside the state, George said.

The city commission on Monday approved using both sales tax revenue, or STAR bonds, and tax increment financing, or TIF, districts to help pay for the improvements.

Deputy City Manager Mike Schrage said the proposed project is a long process and the commission’s approval was necessary before several other steps could be taken. He said details of the project need to be finalized, reviewed and approved by the city and state.

Schrage said the project also needs approval from the Salina School District. Superintendent Bill Hall said the school board has around a month before it votes on it.

“We do want to closely work with City Manager (Jason) Gage and the professional staff here to move forward to what impact the plan will have on the local school system,” Hall said.

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Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, https://www.salina.com

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