City council nixes a public vote on downtown convention hotel


downtown hotelThe city council on Thursday voted to deny a public vote on a downtown convention hotel.

But the 12-1 vote came after two sweeteners from the developer of the 800-room, $311 million hotel.

The developer agreed to add to contracts that no city general fund money would ever be used and 13 percent of the construction workers and 30 percent of the new hotel workers would be from Kansas City.

The action comes after a group called Citizens for Responsible Development raised enough signatures to force a vote.

But the city attorney said such a vote would clearly be illegal. That is partly because it would overturn city contracts and apply retroactively to deals made in the past.

Nine new council members had been leery about denying a public vote on a deal cut by the last council, but most said the illegal aspect made matters clear.

“I will not be part of an illegal act,” said councilman Dan Fowler.

Councilman Kevin McManus said he would support other legal initiative petitions, “but this isn’t it.”

Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, who negotiated the deal to add no general fund money to the contract, said that brings strong transparency to the deal.

Councilwoman Alissia Canady, who negotiated the deal for local labor percentages, said they could set a precedent for other major projects.

Councilwoman Heather Hall, the only one who voted against the measure, said, “ I still don’t believe the data shows this convention hotel is going to fix our problem with conventions coming to Kansas City.”

Mayor Sly James, a major backer of the hotel, said. “We’ve got people calling and reserving a space for conventions when this hotel opens in 2018.”

People have worked for decades to try to get such a hotel and deal after deal was not nearly as good, he said.

Now the deal is right and downtown is thriving and more, he said. “I’m willing to take a chance that if we give people a place to stay, they will come in droves.”


  1. HydeParker says:

    No matter how you feel about a downtown convention hotel, we as citizens must respond to this refusal by the city council to abide by the city charter. Vote these people out of their positions. And vote “No” on the earnings tax on April 5th,

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