The full Kansas City Council is expected to vote Thursday on underwriting and tax abatement for a new downtown Hyatt convention hotel.
A council committee on Wednesday approved a $35 million cash contribution, to be financed with bonds. The bonds would be paid off from convention and tourism taxes.
That funding, plus tax breaks and a $4.5 million contribution of city-owned land would add up to more than half of the expected $311 million project cost.
City involvement is opposed by the library district, which would be affected by the tax reductions on the property.
Critics have argued that it is financially unwise for cities to underwrite convention hotels. But Councilman John Sharp said today's competitive environment demands it.
“We're losing conventions to cities that used to not be in the same ball game we were because they have developed those type of convention hotels where you can walk out the door and walk into the convention center,” Sharp said.
Some competing hotels object, saying the new competitor will lower their room occupancy rates. And caterers object to the fact that part of the city plan is to make Hyatt Hotels the sole caterer for Bartle Hall. But no one spoke against the hotel plan at the Wednesday committee hearing.
Attorney for the developers Mike Burke told the committee that quick approval is an urgent matter so that contracts can be let before prices and interest rates increase.
The Plans, Zoning and Economic Development Committee unanimously approved the hotel plan and sent it to the full council for immediate consideration.