(Updated July 15: The City Council voted 9-4 to approve the revised Katz redevelopment plan.
“We are thrilled to be able to develop the site and excited to preserve the building,” developer Vic Alston, owner of Lux Living, said in response to the Council action. “There are a lot of great things happening in KC and we are excited to be a part of it.”)
By Kevin Collison
The Katz apartment redevelopment plan rejected by the City Council three weeks ago was revived Wednesday based on a compromise that includes adding $600,000 to replace a reduced property tax incentive.
The revised Katz plan however, received tepid support from the Council Neighborhood, Planning and Economic Development Committee which voted 4-1 to forward the proposal without recommendation to the full Council for consideration.
But Councilwoman Katheryn Shields was hopeful the full Council will vote to support the deal when it meets today.
“It’s a good plan and I’m cautiously optimistic my colleagues will recognize that,” she said.
The compromise was struck between Shields and Councilman Eric Bunch, who represent the Fourth District where the apartment project would be located at Westport Road and Main Street.
Shields has been championing the Katz redevelopment plan which calls for preserving the historic drugstore and building a six-story, 192-unit apartment project behind it.
Bunch however, added amendments to the deal three weeks ago that the developer, Lux Living of St. Louis, said made the project financially unfeasible.
The developer had requested a 15-year property tax abatement, 10 years at 75 percent, five years at 50 percent.
The Bunch amendment, which was then approved by the Council, reduced the abatement to 10 years and added requirements for an affordable housing set aside and free public parking in the garage.
The new agreement reached between Shields and Bunch keeps the reduced property tax rate at 10 years, but provides $600,000 to replace the “net present value” of the remaining five years not granted.
It also drops the affordable housing and free parking requirements.
The $600,000 would come from the Fourth District PIAC (Public Improvement Advisory Committee) funds. That money would be repaid from tax revenues generated by the Midtown Tax Increment Financing District which includes the Home Depot and Costco.
“We are both in agreement now as to moving forward…and then move forward with developing the apartments and preserving a very important historic building in the Main Street corridor,” Shields said.
The committee decision to resurrect the Katz proposal was opposed by representatives speaking on behalf of the KC Tenants Association and KC TIF Watch who argued the luxury residential project failed to provide affordable housing.
It was supported by a representatives of the Southmoreland Neighborhood Association and Midtown KC Now. The neighborhood borders the project and Midtown KC Now operates a community improvement district that includes the Katz property.
“This is a critically important project for the Main Street Corridor and I urge your support,” said Kevin Klinkenberg, executive director of the organization.
The project would be close to a streetcar stop and also has been previously supported by Historic Kansas City, the city’s premier preservation group, because it saved the Katz Drugstore, a landmark at the corner since 1934.
The development plan called for the Katz building to be renovated and reused to provide amenities for the apartment residents including a rooftop swimming pool and fitness center.
About 5,000 square feet would be used for a coffee shop open to the public.
The property is owned by Redeemer Fellowship church and currently does not pay property taxes. The church has filed notice with the city that would allow it to demolish the Katz building in three years if a suitable new use is not found.
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