Legal Challenge Delays Progress On Kansas City's Downtown Hotel Plan | KCUR

Legal Challenge Delays Progress On Kansas City's Downtown Hotel Plan

Jan 7, 2016

Kansas City is asking a Jackson County judge to dismiss a lawsuit that would delay construction on a downtown convention hotel.

The city attorney’s office filed its response Wednesday to a group of petitioners that want to force a vote on a $311 million plan to build a Hyatt hotel downtown.

A rendering of the $311 million Hyatt hotel planned for downtown shows its location relative to the Kauffman Center. The hotel developer says a legal battle with a group opposed to tax increment financing has delayed the design phase by several weeks.
Credit Hyatt Hotels

The petitioners filed suit in Jackson County Circuit Court after the City Council declined to put the hotel deal to a public ballot.

“It has caused months delays, and it’s a costly delay for us,” says Mike Burke, an attorney on the development team. “Each week that goes by potentially is an increased construction cost. The Fed has just raised interest rates.”

Burke criticized the petitioners, who object to using tax increment financing to build a downtown convention hotel, for pursuing a ballot initiative after a deal had been signed. The City Council approved the hotel contracts last summer.

The money the city’s kicking in for the hotel will come largely from convention revenue.

“It’s not money that can be used for filling potholes or snow removal, or police or fire,” says Burke. “It’s strictly from the business and tourism tax.”

The petitioners now have 10 days to file a rebuttal. City attorneys are arguing the council was right to reject the petitioners’ initiative because a public vote would jeopardize already-signed contracts with the hotel developers.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.