No automatic subsidies for downtown apartments
The Kansas City Star
Kansas City taxpayers have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars over the pasts decade into building a better downtown.
But apartment developers want more.
They contend that costly tax incentives are still needed to subsidize their planned new units — yes, even though current occupancy is close to 100 percent and demand exists for more downtown living spaces.
These demands go the heart of a question that City Hall has never adequately answered: When is it time to dial back or even pull the plug on public assistance for private companies in redeveloped areas?
Rightly so, city officials so far haven’t endorsed a fresh round of taxpayer giveaways to construct more apartments. Instead, the city needs to aim for reasonable subsidies to bring in the most new residents.
Do one or more proposals come with lots of solid private financing, with an established apartment developer? Those could go to the head of the line.
Above all, City Hall should resist falling for the line often offered by developers and their attorneys: We won’t build anything unless the city assures us a guaranteed rate of return.
There are risks in this world, and developers who have bought downtown buildings and dreamed about creating more apartment space in Kansas City deserve thanks for taking that plunge.
Whether they deserve to get some public funds in their pockets is a whole other issue, best decided on a case-by-case basis.