Mayoral Candidates Talk Downtown: Councilman Scott Wagner

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Downtown skyline from Two Light apartments.

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.

CITY COUNCILMAN SCOTT WAGNER

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?

Since I began on the City Council in 2011, we have successfully added a number of great assets to Downtown. My goals would be to bring more opportunities to live, work and play the most important being:

-Create more opportunities for office development.

-Promote greater connectivity between downtown and the Northland through follow through on a new Buck O’Neill Bridge with MoDOT and a connection to the Crossroads by capping I-635, like Dallas with Klyde Warren Park.

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

Incentives are necessary but selectively. I believe as market rates have improved in some categories (housing for example) incentives must be looked at by project.

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

Councilman Scott Wagner

I believe that we have reached saturation on hotels and see no further need to incentive them. I also believe high-end residential may be reaching a saturation point, but housing in the rent scale of $900 per month and below will still need assistance.

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?

I’m interested so long as the Royals organization is interested.

Decking the South Loop with a park?

I think if done right it can provide multiple uses in a vibrant Downtown, just as Klyde Warren Park has done for Dallas. A key element of their success has been the extent of private funding that has gone into its ongoing operation.

Reuniting the River Market with Columbus Park by lowering Missouri 9 to grade and reconnecting Independence Avenue?Although called for in the Beyond the Loop study, I’d like to see how creative we can get. As the marketing director of the City Market 20 plus years ago I know for a fact that what held back success was the perceived barrier of I-70.

Creating better connections across this interstate is necessary to continue their growth.

Encouraging development along the 18th Street corridor to help connect the East Crossroads and 18th & Vine Jazz District?It is important, but what drives that development is a successful Jazz District. A strong corridor is only as good as the destinations it connects.

Extending the streetcar to the riverfront and UMKC?Both are important, but ultimately we should also be thinking about connecting East and West and into the Northland. The streetcar must be viewed as part of a transit picture that links our city together.

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

I think Troy Schulte has been a critical part of Downtown’s resurgence who understand both the conceptional nature of things to the practical aspects of execution. Should he wish to stay if I am Mayor I would very much welcome that.

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