BNIM drops redevelopment plan that led to tax incentive fight

bnim headquartersArchitecture firm BNIM is abandoning its headquarters project in the Crossroads, a proposal that led to an intense citywide debate about the use of tax incentives.

The developers wanted to use incentives to help renovate an old building at 1620 Baltimore. But a group of community members argued the school district and other taxing jurisdictions suffer when they lose tax revenues, and that the Crossroads is thriving and doesn’t need incentives to spur development. The city tried to broker a compromise, but BNIM said Thursday its lease is expiring at its current temporary headquarters and it needs to move ahead with finding interim and permanent office space.

“We believed that a project like this was beneficial to the entire city, and worthy of a fair level of private-public partnership. We worked diligently with city officials and community leaders to strike a balance that would benefit all. However, we did not anticipate our project becoming a lightning rod in a much larger incentives fight. In spite of a willingness on our part to make multiple revisions to the proposal, including one that would add millions to the KC public school system, petitioners were unwilling to compromise,” BNIM said in a statement.

Mayor Sly James called the announcement disheartening, but said he understands the firm’s need to make a decision in an uncertain environment.

“As a result of the company’s decision, high-quality jobs in architecture and related professions may not be staying in Kansas City. Now, no local taxing jurisdiction, including Kansas City, will benefit from added economic activity from the renovation of an old structure or from employees who would work in that building,” James said.

“BNIM’s headquarters was to be a world-class laboratory for sustainable design and a possible demonstration site for the city’s Overflow Control Project. BNIM also planned to include public green space, community meeting space and business incubator space near our Smart City infrastructure. Kansas City may be losing a spectacular opportunity to quicken the momentum that has helped this City grow in the past five years.”

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