Council approves convention hotel

hotel-entranceThe city council has approved a plan for building a $311 million downtown convention hotel.

The vote on Thursday was unanimous for the 800-room Hyatt Hotel that is to be completed by 2018.

One by one, council members spoke in favor of what they called an exceptional deal for the city that does not put general revenue at risk.

Councilman John Sharp said it is “the last piece of the puzzle” after the Power & Light District, the downtown streetcar and improvements to Bartle Hall.

Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo said it would provide far more than about 1,300 construction jobs and up to 400 jobs for permanent hotel workers.

Other companies that serve and supply the operation and tourist business will thrive, she said.”This is an industry that is only going to grow in Kansas City.”

She and Mayor Sly James disputed those who say that 30 years of tax breaks will cost the school district, library and other taxing jurisdictions.

“The place where this hotel is being built generates zero taxes,” James said.

It would be on the block bordered by Wyandotte Street, Baltimore Avenue, 16th Street and Truman Road.

The city would contribute land worth $4.5 million and $35 million in bonds that would cost about $2 million a year in convention and tourism taxes.

James said that he, Circo and others have been working toward this deal for years, and “It ain’t going to get any better than this.”

For a decade or more people have talked about a downtown convention hotel but efforts stalled because developers want the city to contribute $100 million or more, he said.

As mayor he spoke to business leaders often trying to get major conventions, he said, “…they basically said there’s no way they can come, there’s not enough hotel rooms and they’re scattered too far.”

Unlike the Power & Light District deal, the city is not at risk or having to pay millions out of the general fund if the hotel does not perform, James said.

“We do not take on the burden of the risks here.”

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