Loss of hotel operator isn't a fatal blow for Twin Creek
The proposed hotel and conference center at Twin Creek in Bellevue has had a setback.
As recently as last month, it was possible that ground might be broken in July on the project.
But the hotel operator closest to meeting requirements for the project withdrew. Jim Ristow, president of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, declined to name the hotel.
The withdrawal is not fatal for the project, Ristow said, because three other hotel operators remain interested, some larger and better financed than the one that fell away.
Ristow's comments to the Offutt Advisory Council cast light on a process that has gone dark since Twin Creek developer Steve Johnson brought it before the City Council earlier this year. It has been discussed exclusively in closed executive sessions.
Johnson is asking the city to build, own and operate a $7 million conference center on land between the Culver's restaurant and the Alegent Creighton Health Clinic at Twin Creek. In return, he promises to locate a hotel at the site.
But the city wants to know that a hotel will be built at the site before it commits to building a conference center. The hotel operators want to know the city will build a conference center before they commit to building a hotel.
Ristow said he believes that will be resolved.
“We are dangerously optimistic,” he said. “The hotel is the key. The city hasn't totally said they're going to do this, but if we can get an architectural firm in place to show what things will cost and how it will all work, I think we can make this happen.”
Ristow said the hotelier tried to save the deal by suggesting that smaller facilities be built, but studies show smaller facilities would not draw the business needed to make the project successful.
Bellevue schools lose federal Impact Aid funds
Bellevue Public Schools is set to lose a large share of its federal Impact Aid because, as of this year, it's no longer considered a heavily impacted school district by the U.S. Department of Education.
That means Bellevue will no longer receive an annual infusion of about $6 million in federal dollars to compensate for the lack of property taxes from federal land, including Offutt Air Force Base.
While it won't be considered “heavily impacted,” Bellevue will still receive around $2 million to $3 million in Impact Aid.
But heavily impacted districts must have at least 35 percent of their students impacted by the federal government. Bellevue hasn't been at that level since 2010, and other provisions protecting its eligibility have expired.
Eventually, Bellevue expects it will need to ask taxpayers to pay for large capital expenditures such as building and renovating schools. Bellevue might not even be able to use its regular budget for a big project such as Bellevue West's recent heating and air conditioning upgrades.
Recently, Bellevue used Impact Aid to pay for new computers for teachers, Superintendent Frank Harwood said.
Harwood said the district is trying to build up its cash reserve to soften the blow of future cuts.
Papillion trail project to start in spring or summer 2014
A $365,000 trail project at Papillion's Walnut Creek Lake and Recreation Area is expected to begin in spring or summer 2014.
The Papillion Public Works Department and consultant Lamp, Rynearson and Associates Inc. held an open house to discuss the project.
“It's an effort to tie in two trails that went into nowhere,” Public Works Director Marty Leming said. “This is making a link to two trails that we have no connection to now.”
Leming said construction would be ideal during the summer months because there would be a smaller traffic flow coming from Papillion-La Vista South High School.
The trail will feature an underpass at Schram Road at 90th Street.