Kansas City Council Members Demand Clarity On Convention Hotel Budget

23 hours ago

Last week, the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority approved key documents for the Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel project. This step appeared to be the final step in seven years of planning and discussion.

Councilwoman Katheryn Shields says most of those 18 documents approved by the LCRA weren't filled in.

"That's a cause for concern," Shields says.

So, last Thursday, Shields and her fellow council members Heather Hall and Teresa Loar, drafted an ordinance to halt the city's commitment of $35 million to the project until more detailed and clear information is released regarding the financial plan for the $322.7 million project.

Councilwoman Loar emphasizes that they don't want to see this project delayed any further.

"It's gone on forever in my opinion," Loar says.

But, she says they've been asking for clarification about the budget for too long. 

"We've been promised different things all along and nothing has come to fruition," Loar says. "If you're not going to willingly give it to us, we'll put an ordinance in that will make you give it to us."

They expressed interest in seeing proof of guaranteed financing and documents detailing the sources and uses of the money. Councilwoman Shields says they're not against the hotel by any means.

"We don't want to end up in a situation where halfway through this we have a hotel that doesn't get built, or a hotel that's built but doesn't have the funds to operate," Shields says. "We need to be sure we're making a careful prudent investment for the citizens of Kansas City." 

Since they drafted the ordinance last week, more documents have been made available to them. Wednesday, there will be a public hearing in City Hall for further discussion. Equity investor Steve Rattner and other partners will be present to answer some of their questions.

"There are hiccups to the process," says Councilwoman Hall. "We need to rewrite some of the contracts, rework some of the deals to find out exactly where we are and what the timeline looks like."

Hall is hopeful some of this will be accomplished in Wednesday morning's hearing.

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. You can email her at andreat@kcur.org, and follow her on Twitter @_tudhope.