The Prospect corridor in Midtown Kansas City has been without a full-service grocery store for a little over 10 years.
That is how long it has been since owners threw in the towel on the store at the old Linwood Shopping Center.
The area could have a real grocery store back soon – probably a SunFresh store. But, city staff estimates it will cost taxpayers up to a half-million dollars a year to underwrite the project.
Councilman Jermaine Reed, whose district the shopping center would serve, called support for the project a council responsibility.
“Every community deserves a full-service grocery store,” he asserted. “It's about us as a council doing something to make sure that we are ensuring access to life's necessities for all of our citizens.”
Council Members Heather Hall and Katheryn Shields expressed concern that paying off the nearly $14 million bond indebtedness will cost about $1 million a year, while estimates suggest tax revenues from the renewed shopping center will amount to only about half that amount.
Supporters said they hoped the project will outperform estimates, but also admitted that given the economic history of the area, it is highly risky.
Shields did allow that if the project ended up costing the city the full face amount of the bonds over the 20 to 23 year repayment period, that would amount to only about the same dollar figure the city has been paying out each year to underwrite the Power and Light District.
The committee unanimously endorsed the project and on Thursday the full City Council unanimously approved it.
Mayor Sly James commented that the subsidy is exactly what the council has to do to foster development on the East Side, where businesses are reluctant to invest.
He said unlike in areas like the Crossroads, the Plaza or Downtown, the city has to "kick in a little extra" to make things happen on the East Side.
Steve Bell is afternoon newscaster and business news reporter for KCUR. He may be reached at 816-235-5173 or by e-mail as email@example.com.