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Developers release renderings, details for 180-acre, multi-use 'Destination KCK' in Bonner Springs

Developers say they plan to break ground soon and open in 2026
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Posted at 9:53 PM, Apr 08, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Glendale, Arizona, company wants to build a major tourist attraction in Bonner Springs, Kansas, called "Destination KCK."

Epic Resorts and EMAP KC, LLC, state they wants to transform vacant land in the commercial area.

LINK | Mattel Adventure Park coming to Bonner Springs

"Destination KCK" will captivate visitors with immersive-themed areas accessible by foot or boat, that offer a blend of distinctive retail and dining experiences," according to a company statement.

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The company believes the project will spur additional development and attract a large number of new visitors.

The proposed district would be located at North 118th Street and State Avenue in Bonner Springs.

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EMAP KC says it’s planning a major amusement park and several other themed attractions, including areas with Christmas and rainforest themes on the 180 acres of land.

There are also plans for retail shops and restaurants, hotels and a grand conference center around a 12-acre lake.

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The project's estimated cost is $490 million.

Bonner Springs City council members said its unclear now how much of the project would be covered by STAR bonds.

The council voted unanimously at a public hearing Monday to work to establish the STAR Bonds district.

Council members wanted to clarify they did not commit to anything Monday night tonight.

But by establishing the STAR bond district, the city is taking what it called a small step towards a very long process to consider the amusement park.

In addition, the city posted on its website that, "Establishing a STAR Bond District at 118th and State Avenue does not obligate the city to any financial commitments or incentives at this time. The Governing Body would review any requests for financial assistance or incentives at a later date."

What makes STAR bonds different than traditional sales tax revenue is the emphasis on tourism.

The goal is to bring people from around the area and the state to pay the sales tax at the project.

The sales tax money is used to pay back the bonds.

Last year, Kansas legislators updated the STAR Bond program to allow for amusement park rides to be an eligible expense.

The program also requires Star bonds to cover less than 50% of total project costs.

According to a state report in January, there are currently 16 projects at various stages of completion and repayment throughout Kansas.

Those projects include Children's Mercy Park and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, Prairiefire and Bluhawk developments in Overland Park and the Amelia Earhart Museum in Atchison.

The application states the amusement park is projected to draw “several hundreds of thousands” of visitors annually.

Many of the visitors are expected to come from outside Kansas.

A news release states "Destination KCK" will include:

  • Mattel Adventure Park with more than 25 themed rides & attractions that include Hot Wheels, Barbie, Thomas the Tank Engine, Masters of the Universe and other attractions
  • 34 Specialty and Experiential Retail Stores 
  • Six waterfront-themed restaurants 
  • Over 500 hotel rooms spread over three different hotels, including a conference center, and events center space 
  • Rainforest Attraction 
  • Additional attractions could include a Fly & Dive Theater, boat excursions, personal watercraft, zip lines and a major ice skating rink as a part of the Winter Festival located in the Christmas Village
  • Two enclosed special events pavilions located in the center of the lake for fully catered corporate and family events and weddings
  • A luxury RV Park Resort that would include 161 Class C Resort sites, 97 Class A Motor Coach sites and 59 Custom Cabin & Glamping sites and 10,000 square feet for a clubhouse, indoor/ outdoor pool, lakes & complete amenity package
  • Office: 44,515 square feet of Class A office ppace

The applicant also says the project will create more than 1,500 construction jobs.
KSHB 41 Reporter Megan Abundis spoke with the potential neighbors of the project along Speedway Boulevard.

Bill Lillich’s been on his property for decades.

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His home is right behind the proposed site and that road is home to about a dozen houses.

“It’s a pretty quiet neighborhood," Lillich said. "Everybody’s been here for years."

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That's the way Lillich and his neighbors like it.

“I kind of like being left alone," he said. "I like country living and the neighbors not being right on top of you."

People in that area said they’ve seen many proposed projects come and go.

“I know most of the neighbors don’t want anything in the area,” he said. “The traffic is a main concern to us, causing so much traffic there, and the road closures as they build everything. I heard about it last Thursday. The daycare owner was telling me about him being approached.”

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Lillich said he knows change is sometimes inevitable.

“It could be multiple things, it could be a plus, could get more out of the property values here, but its also more traffic problems for us,” he said. “It could push property values higher and that could be a plus.”

How much should the people be paying for it versus the people building it is the question Lillich wants answered.

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According to the developer's application, they have worked with officials in Glendale, Arizona, on a 'Mattel Adventure Park’ now under construction.

The Kansas Secretary of Commerce determined that the proposed STAR Bonds project is an “eligible area” because it is a major amusement park area.

According to a press release sent out on March 20, the applicant stated they’ will break ground soon and open in 2026.

More details on the park can be found on the park’s website.

“We are excited to bring this attraction and entertainment-based development to Kansas,” said Epic Resort Destinations CEO Glen B. Bilbo. 'Destination KCK' will be the perfect place to escape with the entire family. If you're planning a day at the Mattel Adventure Park, a family weekend at our hotels or luxury RV Resort or organizing a conference or special event, 'Destination KCK' has it all. With options for shopping and lakefront dining and an exciting array of attractions and seasonal festivals catering to all ages, 'Destination KCK' ensures an unforgettable experience filled with family fun and entertainment."