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Overland Park City Council STAR Bond Round 2...

Many banks felt they were being creative prior to 2008. Now Overland Park City Council considers itself "creative" as they perform a contortionist act to fit the Bluhawk project into a STAR bond qualification. The Kansas City Star is reporting the following on the previous city council STAR Bond project Prairiefire....


"Overland Park issued $64,990,000 in STAR bonds for the retail and entertainment development in 2012. Bonds are often issued in tranches, the French word for “slices.” The maturity date for the first $15 million tranche is fast approaching in 2023. Prairiefire has only paid back $130,000 of the original principal, leaving a $64,860,000 outstanding balance after seven years.

Prairiefire applied for the STAR bonds with the promised attraction of the $27 million Museum at Prairiefire, which at its inception was supposed to host traveling exhibits from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The Star reported last year Prairiefire’s contract with the famous New York museum concluded, and its exhibits are no longer on display in Overland Park.

Annabeth Surbaugh, former chair of the Johnson County Commission, said she visited Prairiefire recently and wondered whether the museum was the type of attraction STAR bonds were supposed to fetch.

“I just thought it was going to be more,” Surbaugh said. “I thought STAR bonds meant more than what I saw.”

Further evidence of Prairiefire’s difficulties is revealed by other financing issued separately from the STAR bonds. Prairiefire has repaid none of the principal on some $13 million in community improvement district bonds issued by Overland Park. Prairiefire has reached into a reserve fund to make interest payments because it hasn’t generated enough sales tax on its own. It most recently tapped the reserve fund, kind of like a savings account for the project, on June 21.

Prairiefire developer Fred Merrill Jr. did not respond to a request for comment."


Paid for by Scott Hamblin For City Council
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