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KC TIF committee debates luxury hotel developer's request for new downtown Hyatt

Posted: 6:57 PM, May 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-08 19:57:56-04
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Developers of a proposed five-star luxury hotel in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, have asked for tax incentives to help finance the project.

Plans for the $63 million, 13-story Hyatt hotel — which will be located across Wyandotte Street between 16th and 17th streets, just south and east of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts — include 143 rooms with a rooftop bar, restaurant, and fitness facility among other features.

Stakeholders in the project, dubbed Hotel Bravo!, met Wednesday with the Kansas City Economic Development Corporation's TIF Committee.

"We think this can be one of the most catalytic developments in our city," said Whitney Kerr Sr., one of the developing partners.

The hotel's development group, Greenwood Management, is asking for a 75-percent property tax reimbursement for 23 years, which drew a mixed reaction from those in the room.

"The city itself is in deep trouble in terms of cash flow, in terms of debt and the library, the school district the mental health levy all depend on these taxes they depend on the property tax use for that," said local businessman and philanthropist Crosby Kemper III, who opposed the big tax break.

Kemper wasn't alone.

"It's very hard for us to fathom why they think they need public tax dollars for so much luxury," said community activist Angie Lile, who also opposes the incentives and helped start a petition to change how the city hands out such incentives.

But the project also had its share of supporters, including former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes.

"This project is strategic for the future of the city," said Barnes, who said the taxes the property does generate will benefit the city as a whole.

The Hyatt development group's request comes after a recent VisitKC study showed the city's hotel supply is outpacing demand .

"Supply stimulates demand," said hotel developer Eric Holtze, manager of Greenwood Management. "Particularly something like a Loews (Kansas City Convention Center Hotel ) and obviously something like this."

Holtze argued a unique luxury hotel would be a magnet for new visitors, bringing more money and possibly attracting bigger conventions to Kansas City.

"These top convention planners said, 'You don't measure up with the competition in other cities and, until you do, you're not going to get the high-quality conventions that we want to have here,'" Kerr said.

The committee plans to vote on the proposal at its June 12 meeting, but any incentives would have to be approved by the Kansas City City Council.