KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Angry residents are directly blaming Unified Government staff for yet another delay on a development project in Argentine at 21st and Metropolitan Avenue.
Talks of a Wendy's and Pizza Hut being built across the street from the Save-A-Lot have been continuing for more than two years. The commission was supposed to vote on the proposal Monday night, but now the development site might be "out of play," according to county administrator Doug Bach.
The Kansas Department of Transportation is conducting a long-term study on 18th Street Expressway, which is just east of the proposed site. The agency says it might need to expand or modify the highway, which might encroach on the land and as a result, is unwilling to renew its agreement with the UG to develop the land, said Bach.
Laurie Arellano with KDOT told 41 Action News the option to use the land for development ended at the end of December 2017. KDOT did not give an extension to the UG, so when 2018 rolled around, KDOT started looking at the land to be included in the study.
Bach said he had the conversation with KDOT just a couple hours before the Economic Development and Finance meeting. "It was a mistake on our part by not going to the state earlier and saying, 'Okay, we want to make sure we have this renewal in place.' Then we could've brought that discussion to a head," said Bach.
It's unclear whether staff knew about the conflict with the KDOT study prior to Monday afternoon.
Several people spoke during the public comment portion expressing their anger that Argentine has repeatedly been ignored for years. One woman who lives in Rosedale spoke against the project, saying she doesn't want her taxes to go to franchises.
Mario Madrigal, who lived in District 3 most of his life, was part of those frustrated.
"You've let us down in Wyandotte county and I think you should look in the mirror tonight when you go home because all you have done is lied to the people of the 3rd district for the last three to four years," Madrigal said to Bach.
The Argentine Betterment Corporation (ABC) is in charge of the project and hired Ferguson Properties as the developer. A representative with Ferguson told the commission the Wendy's and Pizza Hut groups have repeatedly said it's either that site or no site at all.
District 3 commissioner Ann Murguia said the move was "very disappointing" and nothing but a "stall tactic."
"Had they got with the state and reviewed the lease one year ago, it would've been resolved. This is just another example of how staff have no intention, nor do they care, about economic development in district 3. It's complete incompetence by the county administrator," Murguia told 41 Action News.
Murguia is stepping down as the executive director for the Argentine Neighborhood Development Association (ANDA) in December. She helped get a $1.2 million federal grant from Health and Human Services for job creation, which was then given to ABC. Of that, $600,000 is going toward the Wendy's / Pizza Hut. The rest was set aside for Dunkin' Donuts, which recently pulled out of the project because of the two-year delay.
Murguia says she got a call from HHS Tuesday morning, saying they're sending representatives to KCK on November 5 to talk with Mayor David Alvey and Bach about the grant. She worries the federal government will be less willing to help KCK in the future if the project doesn't take off soon.
ABC is taking out a $967,600 loan for construction costs. They are also requesting $400,000 in funding from the UG. Bach expressed concern with how much government incentives would go into the project, which add up to around $1 million.