Economic Development

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 11 a.m. Monday: Concrete dust filled the air as a demolition crew began tearing down the old Royale Inn, a blighted motel at Independence Avenue and The Paseo.

Before the city acquired it last year for $1.8 million, drug dealers and prostitutes frequented the Royale. A woman was found murdered in a stairwell in 2011.

Over the past 20 years, Kansas City has invested over $100 million in the East Side, but private development has been slower to follow. What would it take to get more people investing their dollars and their energy in KC's urban core?

Guests:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s East Side is receiving renewed attention this year with several initiatives aimed at attracting investment to an area that’s struggled economically for many decades.

 

Topping the list is a grassroots proposal championed by East Side clergy and others that will ask voters next month to approve a 1/8th cent sales tax increase. It would generate an estimated $8 million annually to support development east of Troost Avenue.

 

There are other new plans and proposals as well.

 

Bill Tice

Gladstone residents are carrying out a citizen led strategic plan that will decide which city projects take priority for the next ten years.

The “Gladstone: Shaping Our Future” strategic planning process is unique in the metro area: it’s entirely led by the residents themselves.  

More than 100 volunteers met for over a year to brainstorm the sort of projects they’d like to see carried out in their community. Thursday night, a ten member committee started choosing which ones will make the cut.

Among the volunteers, Tina Spallo co-chairs the planning process.

Travis Wise / Flickr - CC

Attracting and hanging on to new residents can be a challenge for cities. Today, a November 2016 town hall with urban studies theorist Richard Florida and "suburbanist" Joel Kotkin, on the best of both worlds in the greater KC area.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

On the deadline to approve items for the April ballot Thursday, the Kansas City council reached a compromise and unanimously approved an ordinance for an $800 million dollar infrastructure bond package.

The plan includes a property tax increase over 20 years for the purpose of repairing, rebuilding and maintaining the city's existing infrastructure. 

The agreement comes after 43 days of back and forth between council members and Mayor Sly James.

Councilwoman Jolie Justus says the ordinance doesn’t give everyone what they want. 

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

The controversial $1.8 billion Brookridge redevelopment proposal in Overland Park is a step closer to being subsidized with help from taxpayer funds. A special committee told the Shawnee Mission Board of Education Wednesday that it should not use its veto power to stop the creation of a tax increment financing district (TIF).

City of Overland Park, Kansas

The Overland Park City Council has unanimously approved LANE4 Property Group’s final plan for redevelopment of the corner of 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue. The green light clears the way for the developer to apply for permits before starting demolition and site work.

The $80 million project is less ambitious than an earlier proposal worth several hundred million that called for a more urban style and help from city funds.  That plan included residential units, outdoor gathering areas and walking trails.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Residents of South Kansas City heard updates on a variety of commercial projects at an economic development summit sponsored by the neighborhood alliance Saturday.

“It’s easy access,” said Ron Coker, a senior vice president at Burns & McDonnell, which just completed an expansion at 9450 Ward Parkway that will house 1,400 engineers, architects and construction specialists.

“If your business requires mobility, it’s a great, central location," Coker added, noting that much of the Burns & McDonnell workforce is spread across the city.

While small towns continue to lose population to cities, they're working to reverse that migration.  We talk with a panel of Kansans who made the decision to come back about how they're encouraging others to do the same. 

Guests:

Catilin Troutman / KCUR 89.3

Amazon has officially started construction on a huge new fulfillment center in Kansas City, Kansas. 

The facility, which will sit on 190 acres of land near Interstate 70 and the Turner Diagonal, will provide more than 1,000 jobs to the underutilized area. 

Gary Guo, Amazon's Vice President of North America Operations, said the center will host Amazon's robotic technologies. It will fill orders for small items like books, electronics, and small household items. 

He said the center will be operating by the peak of holiday shopping in 2017. 

Rendering courtesy of BNIM

Over the last year, the debate over how much of a tax break the city should give developers for local projects has been heated. 

On Wednesday, the Kansas City Council for the first time heard public comment on an ordinance to reform tax incentive development policy that's been in the works for months. 

Pexels / CC

Twenty small businesses are finalists for $500,000 in public-private grant money to help the metro area nurture its tech and entrepreneurial environment.

LaunchKC, part of the city's economic development effort, will select 10 of the 20 finalists during Techweek in September.

Agriculture and health technology companies are heavily represented among the winners in the contest - only in it's second year.