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Kalahari hearing period extended
Hearings on Kalahari incentives will continue through April 22

 City incentives could seal the deal with the water park.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 4/8/2008

BY EMILY BATTLE

Fredericksburg officials were still ironing out the fine print of the 20-year agreement that would govern a proposed incentives package for Kalahari Resorts yesterday evening.

City Manager Phillip Rodenberg said the final version of the agreement, along with a proposed ordinance that would set up a tax-increment financing district to distribute the incentives, should be available on the city's Web site today.

Public hearings on both of those documents will still take place at 7:30 tonight, following a presentation by Kalahari President Todd Nelson.

But since the documents on which those hearings seek comment weren't available until less than 24 hours ahead of time, the city plans to keep the hearings open through the City Council's April 22 meeting.

That means residents will be able to speak tomorrow or April 22, and between the two meetings, they may submit their comments in writing to the council.

Council members are expected to take the first of two required votes on both the Kalahari incentives and the 2009 budget at the April 22 meeting.

The 20-year agreement outlines the incentives package the city has offered Kalahari, which proposes to build a 700-room water-park hotel and conference center in Celebrate Virginia.

The city would waive more than $3 million in upfront planning, utility and development fees for the resort.

Using a tax-increment financing district as the vehicle, the city would return to Kalahari 47.5 percent of all of the new local tax revenue it generates within the boundaries of its project over 20 years.

The boundaries of the project will be defined by a city ordinance. The proposed ordinance draws them to include the 49 acres Kalahari announced in November that it would buy, along with the 19-acre Fredericksburg Expo and Convention Center property.

The resort plans to buy that business, and eventually the property it occupies, and will incorporate the Expo Center into its hotel and convention center.

Kalahari projects it will pay a total of about $6 million in local taxes a year, of which the city would get 52.5 percent.

The performance measures Kalahari will be held to include:

Kalahari must build and open the project by July 1, 2010.

It must spend at least $25 million on a second phase within 10 years of opening, or the incentives end after 10 years.

It must provide adequate staffing for full-time security and emergency medical personnel onsite.

It must provide 500 square feet of lobby space for a satellite visitors center and a FRED transit stop.

It must develop and implement a water conservation and recycling plan.

Emily Battle: 540/374-5413
Email: ebattle@freelancestar.com


Check the City Beat blog at fredericksburg.com/citybeat throughout the day for updates on the Kalahari hearing documents.