The full Kansas City Council on Thursday gave unanimous approval to tax abatement and other incentives for planned hotels in the heart of
downtown in the Crossroads Arts District.
Both involve the renovation of historic buildings: the old Federal Reserve building at 9th and Grand and the Pendergast Building and former Pabst brewery in the Crossroads.
Citizens for Responsible Government, the group that successfully derailed plans for the BNIM architects headquarters in the Crossroads District, had accused the council of blocking a possible petition drive for a public vote on the incentives by accelerating the approval process.
Though both projects have been in process for some time, both received final approval by the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee only one day before the committee scheduled a final council vote.
Dan Coffey of the citizens group called the accelerated effective date method the council's new way to stop the referendum process guaranteed to voters by the city charter.
Council members defended their action, saying that the developers had legitimate reasons for asking for a sped-up process, including financing arrangements ready to be finalized and state historic tax credits to be applied for.
Councilwoman Teresa Loar, often a watchdog on council spending and incentives, said she was concerned that some citizens were misinterpreting the council's use of valid and sometimes necessary options.
“What's perceived out there sometimes becomes people's reality. So maybe we can discuss that more in committees.” said Loar. “But because of the historic value of these two projects I can't see any other way that they would get done.”
Both hotel projects involve municipal bonds for construction costs, tax abatement and tax credits for historic preservation.
Steve Bell is afternoon news anchor and business news reporter for KCUR. He may be reached at 816-235-5173 or by e-mail as firstname.lastname@example.org