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Council Committee Advances West Side Apartment Plan Despite Opposition

Developers and neighborhood opponents continue to negotiate on a planned apartment complex at 17th and Madison.
Rendering courtesy of EPC Real Estate

An apartment project proposed for 17th and Madison drew continued opposition this week despite concessions by developers. 

The  Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee held a hearing Wednesday on a scaled-back version of the EPC Real Estate proposal in which the developer reduced the height of the apartment building, cut back the number of apartments from 60 to 48 and reduced the amount of retail space included in the project.

Neighborhood groups urged the committee to reject the project, citing several reasons. 

They noted that the project still violated the West Side community development plan and would change the character of the neighborhood. 

The heavily Latino West Side was likened to the 18th and Vine district in that it constitutes the nucleus of an ethnic cultural heritage which residents believe needs to be preserved.

But the principal objection was to the fact that the developers plan to ask for 25-year property tax abatement for upscale apartments in an area with many lower-income home owners.

Former West Side city councilman Robert Hernandez questioned the fairness of those tax breaks, saying that the upscale apartments will raise taxes for people now living in the neighborhood.

“When this comes in and the property values begin to rise and the people get reassessed, poor people have to pay more taxes, poor people have to pay more taxes while affluent people living in this project pay no taxes,” he said.   “Where is the equity in that?  Where is the fairness?”

Austin Bradley, speaking for the developers, said they did not believe the project would raise property taxes for others in the area.

The committee voted to approve plans for a 48-unit apartment complex and declare a warehouse now on the site a blighted area. Neighborhood opponents will have the opportunity to present their arguments against the tax breaks at a future hearing on that issue.

Steve Bell is afternoon newscaster and business news reporter for KCUR.  He may be reached at 816-235-5173 or by e-mail as steveb@kcur.org

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