After seven years of discussion and planning, construction of a 24-story, 800-room downtown convention hotel in Kansas City is expected to begin Jan. 2 following approvals of key documents Wednesday.
A thick stack of financing and property transfer documents necessary for the $322.7 million Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel project was approved unanimously by the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.
“In my 20 years on the board, this is easily the most complicated project we’ve ever embraced,” says LCRA Chairman Steve Hamilton.
The new Loews will be the first major hotel built in downtown Kansas City since the Vista International, now the Marriott, opened in 1985, and is expected by Loews officials to make the city far more competitive in the convention market.
It’s expected to be completed in March 2020.
Alexander Tisch, executive vice president of the New York-based hotel firm, says the project should allow Kansas City to compete for up to 200 more events than it could previously by offering the critical mass of downtown hotel rooms needed for major conventions.
“You have a vibrant downtown and first class convention center,” Tisch told the LCRA board, “but you need a four-star hotel to attract more convention business.”
The addition of the new hotel should allow Kansas City to compete with other convention destinations such as Indianapolis, Nashville and Austin, backers say.
It’s first major event already is scheduled for July 2020 when the Shriners International convention is expected to draw 20,000 participants.
The project also is expected to create 400 permanent jobs and another 1,500 construction jobs. Locally-based J.E. Dunn Construction is the contractor and Atlanta-based Cooper Carry is the architect.
The development will include 75,000 square feet of meeting space, 15,450 square feet of restaurant, bar and retail, a 450-space garage, 9,913 square feet of recreational facilities and a 4,500 square-foot terrace.
It will occupy a 3-acre city block across from the Bartle Hall Grand Ballroom from Truman Road to 17th Street, between Wyandotte Street and Baltimore Avenue. An enclosed walkway over Wyandotte will connect it to the ballroom.
The hotel tower will rise 24 stories from Baltimore. Its main entrance will be off Wyandotte, and an entrance leading to the Central Business District will be near Baltimore and Truman.
The project also is meeting a primary financing directive established early on by city officials. None of the debt will be backed by the city and the developer is responsible for any cost overruns or construction delays.
The city’s contributions to the project are $35 million in cash that will be repaid by the hotel bed tax, and a land contribution valued at $7 million.
The remainder will be financed with $59.7 million in private equity, the majority from Loews, a $110 million loan from Wells Fargo Bank and $110 million in public financing.
“We’re comfortable with the development team, particularly with the addition of Loews,” says Randy Landes, city finance director.
There is one more public step required to move the hotel project forward. The Tax Increment Financing Commission will consider its redevelopment agreement Thursday morning.
An informational briefing also is scheduled for the city council Thursday afternoon, but the project already has received its necessary approvals from that body.
Kevin Collison, a freelance contributor to KCUR 89.3, writes about downtown Kansas City for his website CityScene KC.