Downtown hotel project advances

hotel-entranceA city council committee on Wednesday approved a deal for a $311 million downtown convention center hotel.

The current full city council, in its last day of action, is expected to approve the deal today.

Nine new city council members start Aug. 1.

The planning and zoning committee recommended the project Wednesday after hearing extensive testimony.

The 800-room Hyatt would be on the block bordered by Wyandotte Street, Baltimore Avenue, 16th Street and Truman Road.

It would be near the convention center and the Kauffman Performing Arts Center and a block from the new streetcar line, said Mike Burke, a lawyer for the developers who helped shape the deal.

“It’s the right place, the right brand, the right time,” he said.

City Manager Troy Schulte noted that no city general fund money is at serious risk from the project, unlike the millions it pays for the Power and Light District.

“We’re committed to this project,” he said. “We’re not on the hook if it underperforms.”

Councilman Jim Glover said he hoped the hotel would pull in convention money that would offset continuing costs of the Power and Light District.

“It’s about money,” Glover said, “It’s not about doing something simply to increase tourism.”

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

That much is now being spent to pay off work on the Kemper Arena and payments on it would end this year and shift to the hotel, Schulte said.

There would also be tax abatement and tax incentives over 30 years. Experts said that would cost Kansas City School District $4.7 million and the Kansas City Public Library about $800,000.

No one spoke against the plan, but the library invited Heywood Sanders, University of Texas professor and critic of city convention competitions, to speak Wednesday evening at the downtown library.

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