By Kevin Collison
Grand Place, the $98 million redevelopment of the historic Kansas City Star building, has gotten creative addressing cost overruns by embracing the arts as a big part of the project’s identity.
In a successful bid last week to obtain $2.4 million in sales tax breaks, the developer pledged to commission public art works, set aside part of the building as free artist work space and help establish a major arts festival with Grand Place as its hub.
“It’s a project that’s potentially more impactful than any Crossroads arts project that you’ve ever seen before,” David Macoubrie, executive director of the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority told his board members.
Developer Vince Bryant of 3D Development told the PIEA board his arts-related plans for the Grand Place redevelopment project underway at 17th and Grand now include:
–Commissioning several public art works including four, nine-foot chrome cubes with the letters S, T, A and R scattered in the plaza; artworks commemorating the newspaper industry in the lobby, and a sculpture utilizing about 1,000 old valves removed during interior demolition.
–Setting aside 12,000 square feet inside Grand Place as free artist incubator space for two years.
–Working to establish a major Crossroads arts festival similar to the ArtPrize event in Grand Rapids, Mich. ArtPrize, which began in 2009, draws an estimated half-million visitors during its 19-day run and awards $250,000 in art prizes in an international competition.
“This project is an ideal location for a new center for art in the Crossroads Arts District,” according to the Grand Place PIEA application.
“The project is infused with art and the relationship with the Crossroads Arts Community as well as preserving the history of the building and the KC Star.”
The art-related additions to Grand Place were made to help qualify the project for tax incentives available under the Crossroads Arts PIEA Plan. The Crossroads PIEA was adopted in 2006 to help retain artists and art-related uses in the area.
The ambitious Grand Place redevelopment plan, which will calls for the 225,000 square-foot building to be renovated into office space and a 35,000 square-foot food hall and market, already was granted substantial tax breaks by the city two years ago.
The redevelopment plan received a 20-year property tax break and will retain 50 percent of the new earnings taxes generated by employees anticipated to work there. It also received federal and state historic tax credits.
But Bryant told the PIEA board that budget overruns totaling several million dollars required him to seek additional public financial help.
The overruns were caused by unanticipated interior demolition costs and a planned 281-space underground garage in front of the building that ran into unforeseen ground water problems.
The estimated $2.4 million in additional incentives for the project approved by the PIEA board will come from an exemption on sales taxes paid on construction materials.
“The sales tax exemption on construction materials saves us a little over $2 million,” Bryant said.
“That will give us the ability to keep the project unchanged. Without it, some of the parking would have to be above ground.”
An above-ground garage, he said, would obstruct the historic facade of the old Star building that was designed by renowned Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt and opened in 1911.
Bryant told the PIEA board that he recognized his additional art-related plans for the Grand Place project were ambitious.
“I want to work toward spending $100,000 per year on this arts festival and seek additional sponsors,” he said.
“We hope we can take this very large building and make it part of this annual festival and draw people in, very similar to the ArtPrize festival.”
The completion of the Grand Place project is anticipated in Fall 2021.
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