Mayoral Candidates Talk Downtown: Attorney Steve Miller

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Downtown Kansas City from the Missouri River. (Photo by Lara Isch)

Editor’s note: Kansas City voters are preparing to elect a new mayor to replace Mayor Sly James, who has reached the end of his two-term limit.

The mayoral primary will be April 2 followed by the general election on June 18.  

CityScene KC has reached out to the leading candidates for their opinions on several downtown issues and is grateful for their responses.  

Each have been asked the same questions and their responses will be posted individually over the next two weeks.What is your take on the current state of greater downtown today and what would your goals be for the area if you were elected mayor?

ATTORNEY STEVE MILLER

We have momentum – and we need to keep it going. We need to continue to build density and infill.

We are only going to accomplish by keeping the public confidence, starting with making sure we are adequately investing in our infrastructure (in order to avoid the pothole debacle of this winter) and with competently completing KCI and the other big capital projects (e.g. $800 million infrastructure project and $4.5 billion Waters Services Overflow Control Project).

What would be your approach to tax incentives to assist downtown redevelopment? If you don’t believe further incentives are needed, why?

We need to evaluate where we are in the redevelopment of our downtown and adjust our City investments (incentives) to correspond to the present moment.

Attorney Steve Miller
This needs to be part of a new City plan which I will initiate and lead to replace the Focus plan from 1997 which has outlived its usefulness. I call it Focus 20/20 – for the year in which it will be completed – and for the clear vision it will articulate for the City.

An economic development plan should then overlay the new Focus 20/20 plan

Are their types of projects (residential, office, hotel, entertainment, etc.) that you believe no longer need tax incentives? If so, what are they and why?

I would not advise categorically ruling out any one type of project without knowing more details about said specific project, including its exact location, job creation and its place in a much larger plan.

It would be irresponsible to say no to something based on no information. As mayor I will look at these situations on a case by case basis instead of implementing a one size fits all rule.

There are several ‘big ideas’ being discussed for greater downtown’s
future. What’s your position on the following:

A downtown ballpark for the Royals?

We need to start this discussion. The opportunity for our downtown to host 81 conventions a year with an average of 20,000 people is too great an opportunity to pass on.

Decking the South Loop with a park?

While on the Missouri Highways and Transportation commission I looked at this for Kansas City. The challenge will be funding; it will be expensive, but we should keep all options on the table.

If financially feasible, it would open up some exciting possibilities for downtown Kansas City.

Reuniting the River Market with Columbus Park by lowering Missouri 9 to grade and reconnecting Independence Avenue?

This is another expensive option, but again it is one we should explore as one piece to a broader vision.

Encouraging development along the 18th Street corridor to help connect the East Crossroads and 18th & Vine Jazz District?

Absolutely. It is essential that we find strategies, to connect 18th and Vine with Crossroads. This should include a discussion not only of real estate development opportunities but public transportation including streetcar.

Extending the streetcar to the riverfront and UMKC?

Absolutely favor. Extending streetcar is the only way to realize the potential of the investment we have already made

What’s your position on retaining City Manager Troy Schulte?

While I have not had the opportunity to work with Troy Schulte or any of the citywide officials on a first hand basis, as mayor, I plan to sit down and meet with every individual to have a conversation about the path forward for our great city.

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