TIF Commission Agrees to Study Luxury Hotel Plan–Reluctantly

Rendering of Bravo! Hotel looking northeast from Wyandotte. (Image from CannonDesign)

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 calls for property currently used by Quixotic Cirque Nouveau at 1616 Broadway to be renovated for a rehearsal studio.

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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  1. Whether or not the hotel market is saturated, this seems to serve a very different customer. I could be wrong, but I don’t think there are any 5-star hotels in the downtown area. High-end luxury is an important part of the market, even if it’s not for everyone.

  2. Ben is correct, this is an entirely different market which does not compete with the other hotels. This market is one not served in the area. Out of my league but, I have no reservations using my tax dollars on it. This is a necessary project if we want our downtown to go where we all hope.

  3. Really? That’s your level of understanding concerning TIF’s? Is your concern the school district will miss out on their 100’s of dollars in taxes on that empty lot? Are you against playing the long game and eventually collecting property taxes on a $64m building?

  4. i think the market segment for this project does not compromise filling the rooms scheduled to come on-line here in the short run. i do not like the ‘sound’ of TIF for a project in an area that is prime for redevelopment and for a luxury hotel/market segment. and, although i do not grasp the volume of the market segment that would supposedly sustain it, i do presume the folks wanting to build have done their homework. certainly, taxes for school and all else need to be considered down the road as compared to what is being generated TODAY, and the foreseeable future, absent any plans for a project this size on this space. finally, following my pet concern, is it at least appears to be offering attractive design aesthetics. UNLIKE the brand new EYESORE planned by the Hyatt for a PREMIER GATEWAY SITE for a hotel entering city down on Broadway. overlooking allowing brand new buildings to be constructed without appealing aesthetics will create a downtown nobody enjoys being in no matter the amenities because it will resemble a series of dull concrete canyons with nothing pleasing to the eye.

  5. TIF diverts future potential (if the land is improved) tax receipts from the schools, it doesn’t divert current receipts. This seems to be a misconception of many. TIF is like poker, if the developer is going to improve the land to the same extent without TIF and is just fishing for incentives, then the grant of TIF is a mistake. Oftentimes, that isn’t the case – and developers either cancel the project (BNIM is a case study), or scale it back. If the project is scaled back, it comes down to spreadsheets.

  6. Junk architecture.
    If developers cannot make a profit on a luxury product without incentives they shouldn’t be in business.

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