Good news on creating more vitality, density in KC's core
The Kansas City Star
Positive news about construction in the heart of Kansas City has been somewhat tough to find the last few years.
That makes recent events worth celebrating, even if some undeserved taxpayer incentives are (naturally) part of the mix.
The weak economy still might pull the financial supports out from under one or more projects. However, all have merit.
The most positive development is the decision by the Cordish Co. to go ahead with long-sought plans to spend $70 million and add apartments downtown.
The project includes construction of a new, 23-story, 250-unit residential tower at 13th and Walnut streets, plus renovation of the long-vacant Midland office building with another 68 units.
Downtown has been a strong rental market in recent months. The projects should bring more bustle to downtown, encouraging people to take advantage of Cordish’s Power & Light District as well as other amenities.
The city-supplied subsidies included in the package have understandably raised questions about the need for more public help for Cordish. But these incentives, which were called for in the original contract with the developer, are more responsible than many of the over-the-top subsidies sought and approved elsewhere in the metro area. They would help build on the public’s past investment in better downtown infrastructure in the Power & Light District.
Just north of the Country Club Plaza, Hyatt plans to build a 12-story, 225-room luxury hotel that would include office space, costing $80 million. The hotel could help attract more visitors to the Plaza and the city.
Given the concern about high-rise buildings near the venerable shopping district, though, the hotel operator and others should attempt to make sure the project is acceptable to nearby neighborhood residents.
As so often happens in these deals, development lawyers are leading the way in twisting the arms of elected officials to hand out public subsidies for the hotel.
However, the city should only approve a reasonable rate of return for the developer, especially given Hyatt’s publicly professed desire to be in what it calls “one of the premier areas of Kansas City.”
Finally, just south of the Plaza, the City Council has approved a $39 million apartment project at 51st and Main streets, including 204 units and some retail.
As with the two other projects listed here, these apartments will increase the number of people either living in Kansas City or visiting it. That density is good for the city, especially as it brings more vitality to the core.