By this time next year, driving to Applebee’s in McPherson should be smooth sailing.

The city of McPherson is taking steps to create a community improvement district, or CID, around McPherson’ Plaza East district. The district south of U.S. Highway 56 and Champlin Street includes Applebee’s, Orscheln Farm and Home, The Fieldhouse, Holiday Inn Express and Days Inn.

“Right now, it’s a private drive and we can’t go in and improve anything,” said Nick Gregory, city administrator. “One of the things we’ll do after having a public meeting is that the city will take over that right-of-way and it will become a public street at that point.”

Community improvement districts are used to finance projects that affect only certain areas of a community, and the individuals who do business there. This is McPherson’s first CID project, though they are used frequently across the state.

The CID will finance the construction of public roadway and drainage improvements at an estimated cost of $630,588.95, which will be paid for by a 2 percent sales tax placed on the district. Once the cost has been collected over time, the tax will be removed.

“In this case, we’re estimating it will take 3-5 years to pay off those improvements based on current revenue generated in that district,” Gregory said. “That means we’ll take out a special obligation bond to pay for the improvements and any interest over time that it takes to pay it off, and once the sales tax generates enough to pay it off, that tax will drop off.”

The city has completed the first step, which is completing a valid petition process that requires signatures from 55 percent of properties by total area in the district, as well as 55 percent of properties by total value.

Next, a public hearing will be held at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 7 at the McPherson Municipal Building, 400 E. Kansas Ave. in McPherson.

“After that, there’s a 30-day period in case there need to be any legal action, then we can move forward. We’ve started putting together the bid documents on the work so we can accept them if it all goes through,” Gregory said.

While the city completes the project, access to business in the district will remain open.

“Public works is talking with business owners about temporary accesses, so we wouldn’t shut off access to any location,” Gregory said. “It might be tough at times, but they’ve negotiated with everyone to maintain access through the project.”

Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at cderksen@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.