By Kevin Collison
A $63 million ultra-luxury hotel project proposed next door to the Kauffman Center cleared its first hurdle Wednesday when the Kansas City TIF Commission reluctantly approved a funding agreement to study the plan.
The 145-room hotel is being pitched by developers Whitney Kerr Sr. and Eric Holtze for vacant land controlled by the Performing Arts Center across Wyandotte Street just north of the Webster House garage.
The developers say their 13-story “Hotel Bravo!” project would be the most luxurious in Kansas City and provide the level of upscale accommodations expected by sophisticated national and international travelers. Most of its rooms would look out on the Performing Arts Center.
But the TIF Commission Board was far from convinced.
Board members had delayed consideration of the funding agreement for what’s called the Performing Arts District TIF Plan at their meeting last month. At that meeting, members questioned providing hefty tax incentives to build a new hotel in an already crowded market.
Those reservations were included in a revised version of the funding agreement considered Wednesday. It noted the “potential adverse impact of additional hotels, as contemplated by the proposed plan, in the Crossroads and Downtown areas of Kansas City…”
(In a related interview with CityScene KC, Jason Fulvi, the new president and CEO of VisitKC, said the downtown hotel market would be “saturated” if all the recently completed and planned new hotel rooms are added to its inventory.)
The amended funding agreement also made it clear that by approving further study of the Hotel Bravo! proposal the TIF Commission was not telegraphing its ultimate support of the project.
“Such support and approval shall only be reflected by the Commission’s passage of a separate resolution approving and recommending the proposed plan to the City Council,” the amendment funding agreement stated.
To reinforce the Commission’s reservations, Board Chairwoman Cindy Circo said approving the funding agreement was not endorsing the project, but simply allowing the developer to fund a staff analysis of the proposal.
The proposed Performing Arts Center TIF Plan also includes a second project besides the luxury hotel.
While details were sketchy, Holtze said the “Project 2” proposal calls for the Quixotic Cirque Nouveau facility at 1616 Broadway across from the Kauffman Center to be renovated as a rehearsal studio.
The TIF Commission also added language to the funding agreement that expressed “reservation as to the likelihood of the implementation of redevelopment Project 2.”
The earliest a public hearing on the proposed Performing Arts Center TIF Plan could occur is at the TIF Commission February meeting.
In the meantime, Holtze said the hotel development entity, Greenwood Management, has lined up its private financing for the project. If the incentive package was approved by the city, a groundbreaking could occur next summer with completion in October 2020.
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