The board of commissioners of the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, or PIEA, approved a new plan on Thursday for the Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City, Missouri. The nearly 40 properties in the Crossroads occupied by artists or for arts activities will get a 50 percent tax abatement for 15 years. Taxes will be frozen at the 2016 assessed value.
The Crossroads is a popular area today, known for its First Friday gallery openings. But three decades ago, when pioneers like Jim Leedy bought properties and opened galleries, there wasn't much foot traffic, and many buildings were vacant or dilapidated.
A 10-year tax abatement program for arts properties was set to expire at the end of 2016. The Crossroads Community Association has been working with stakeholders for about 2 1/2 years to make sure a new PIEA plan would be in place.
Jeff Owens, the Association's vice president, served on the committee to renew the arts PIEA. Owens owns properties in the Crossroads, and he's also the managing partner of the Bauer at 115 W. 18th Street.
"It ran up to pretty much the last second, so we were extremely nervous about it," Owens says about the decision on Thursday. "It's just an incredible gift to all of us that it happened today."
The new arts PIEA differs from the 2006 version, which was 100 percent abatement for property owners. But Owens says, "You had to pay a PILOT [payment in lieu of taxes] and city taxes." In the new plan, property owners will no longer pay the PILOT, unless their assessments decrease.
"Some of the folks who were involved in this program, their actual payments went up. Some went down," says Owens. "But all have stayed within the realm of survival."
Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.