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Kansas City Council Committee Advances Downtown Convention Hotel Plan

Elle Moxley
This model of Kansas City's downtown shows a proposed 800-room Hyatt hotel that would be used to draw conventions to the city.

A Kansas City Council committee gave initial approval to a plan for a new downtown convention hotel Wednesday.

The city's Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee approved an outline for a $300 million, 800-room Hyatt hotel. The plan puts the city on the hook for $35 million, which would come from the city's existing tourism funds that currently go to Kemper Arena.

The developer behind the project is Burke Swerdling and Associations, LLC. If the current plan passes without changes, they will receive large tax incentives through 23 and 30 year tax increment financing (TIF) district funds, a special sales tax and tax exemptions on building materials.

In a short testimony before the committee, Mayor Sly James said the plan isn't perfect, but it's the best deal the city could hope for.

"My bottom line was no money [could come] from the general fund, no guarantees on any losses, no debt," James said. "We believe we have that deal on the table now."

City Manager Troy Schulte has worked on various plans to bring a convention hotel to Kansas City for the past three and a half years. He said the Hyatt offer is good for the growth of downtown.

"We have structured this deal so that there is no exposure to the general fund," Schulte said. "The convention center hotel would not be competing with other basic services of the city, such as public safety [or] property code enforcement."

The issue wasn't without dissent though. Councilman John Sharp worried that the plan is moving too fast, and wanted to keep it from the full council for a week. Ultimately the plan advanced, and will be taken up by the full city council Thursday.

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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