Opponents of public subsidies for a $311 million convention hotel in Kansas City have turned in petitions seeking a public vote on the proposal.
The group needs 1,700 valid signatures for Kansas City initiative petitions.
The Kansas City Star reports that Citizens for Responsible Government turned in 800 signatures on Wednesday, which are expected to be verified by Monday, in addition to 1,300 valid signatures the group already submitted.
The city wants to build an 800-room Hyatt hotel downtown. It is contributing about $50 million to the project, bonded over 25 years, and land valued at $4.5 million.
City Attorney Bill Geary said in a statement Wednesday that the initiative could prompt a legal fight because the City Council has already authorized an agreement with the hotel's developers and signed contracts for financing and other aspects of the deal.
"The city cannot enter into agreements and then unilaterally change those agreements, even if voters want the agreements breached," Geary said. "This is the apparent purpose of the initiative being proposed for the convention hotel project. However, all agreements between the city and the hotel developers have been executed and are binding on the city."
Dan Coffey, a spokesman for the petitioners, has said the public deserves a vote on the downtown convention hotel proposal because it involves substantial public subsidies. Critics also contend the hotel is too expensive, won't attract many more conventions and will struggle to meet revenue projections.
Supporters of the hotel project note it would be the first new convention headquarters hotel built in Kansas City since the Reagan administration. City officials have said many large conventions decide not to come to Kansas City because of a lack of hotel space. Supporters hope the hotel could open by mid- to late-2018.
Also this week, a city agency that promotes investment in urban renewal areas approved several measures to keep the hotel project progressing.
The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority authorized the transfer of city-donated land for the project to the LCRA, which the agency would then lease to the developers. It also agreed to solicit bids from bond counsel firms and from appraisal firms for work related to the project.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com