KCMO City Hall

About 180 small businesses in Kansas City, Missouri, would be eligible for SBA “micro-loans” averaging $10,000 each under a plan approved by a city council committee on Wednesday. 

Economic Development chair Scott Taylor says the first phase of the program has already loaned out $2.3 million.

Taylor says almost 53 percent of the loans have been to businesses east of Troost and the repayment rate has been a high 95 percent.

Courtesy of City of Kansas City, Missouri

“This was a relatively pleasant budget process,” said Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James of the months leading up to Thursday's City Council approval of a $1.5 billion budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.  Then his council colleagues laughed as he added, “We actually had money.  That always makes it a little easier.”

The new spending plan includes funding for 2 percent raises for city employees who have been hit by wage freezes in several recent years.

Bob Bennett, Chief Innovation Office for Kansas City, Mo, explains some of the proposed ideas that made the city one of seven finalists in the U.S. Department of Transportation's  Smart City Challenge.

City Hall
City of Kansas City

The Kansas City, Missouri City Council approved  a $1.5 billion budget on Thursday that kicks off a $10 million two-year plan to tear down about 800 abandoned houses, increases spending on basic services by 5 percent and allows for 2 percent raises for city employees.

The same day the council approved a union contract granting firefighters 2.6 percent raises. The agreement reduces a potential wage freeze in case emergency medical services revenue does not increase by 6 percent from two years to one.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The city of Kansas City, Missouri recently announced $10 million in its budget to demolish hundreds of homes that are rotting in urban neighborhoods.

These homes are not only an eyesore, but attract squatters and crime.

The funds are meant to help get rid of more than 800 homes on the city’s dangerous buildings list. But when residents got wind of the program, they cried out to save some of the homes. 

KCCG, Channel 2

A development incentive plan Mayor Sly James calls the Shared Success Fund faced its first criticism in a city council committee Wednesday.

The mayor wants to tap into the developer-incentive system to set aside money the city could use to help support other developments in areas with low incomes, high unemployment and a lack of new construction. 

James says the vast majority of the area that would qualify is the east-central area of Kansas City south of the river.

Firefighters Local 42

A committee of the Kansas City, Missouri City Council approved  a contract with Firefighters Local 42 on Wednesday.

But the union says it is not the deal they agreed to.

The rift prompted hot words from the union president and an icy atmosphere at the committee table.

Upon hearing the proposal City Manager Troy Schulte asked the finance committee to endorse, Local 32 president Bill Galvin's first comment was, “This right here is the first I've seen of this ordinance.  To me this is bargaining in bad faith.”

Excavation safety group - dlickr.com

An ordinance advanced by a Kansas City Council committee on Wednesday would require contractors to pluck the unsightly markers when their work is done.

Utility line excavation markers are required by law,  but the fluttering swatches of yellow and orange that  line lawns along roadways often remain long after they have served their purpose. 

Their wire stems may pose mowing hazards for several years to come.

Public Works Director Sherri McIntyre said the ordinance will require the removal of the flags before the contractor can close the permit on the job site.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

After more than a year of uncertainty, recommendations on the future of Kemper Arena are just weeks away. 

Kansas City Council Economic Development Chair Scott Taylor said on Wednesday that a special committee is wrapping up its work and he expects to submit recommendations to the full council sometime in March. 

Taylor said there will also be more public hearings before a final decision is made, including one to be held at Kemper Arena.

cooltagged.com

A proposal for tax incentives to bring production of films, television series episodes and major TV commercials to Kansas City cleared a City Council committee Wednesday.

The details of the plan have been in the making for several months at the Film and Media Office of the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Development chair Scott Taylor told the Finance Committee that Kansas City is losing talent and production contracts to cities that offer the incentives. A particularly frustrating case, he said was losing a movie set in Kansas City to Atlanta.

Cody Newill / KCUR

The city has announced plans to demolish the Royale Inn -- known to neighbors and leaders as a dangerous, crime-ridden place, not to mention a less-than-welcoming gateway to downtown when driving from the interstate onto Paseo. But while demolition may solve problems for the neighborhood, does it address underlying issues of poverty and crime, or just relocate them?

Guests:

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

If you look at the travel brochures about Kansas City, or talk to the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association, the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District is always listed among the top destinations.

People come from all over the world in search of that distinctive Kansas City sound.

Rendering courtesy of Crawford Architects

Airline consultants have rejected a proposal to renovate existing KCI terminals rather than build a new one.

Consultant Lou Salomon of AvAirPros told the Kansas City Council Airport Committee Tuesday that the renovation plan lacks the flexibility needed for a forecast 40 percent passenger traffic growth by 2040 and underestimates the costs.

“The major renovations are just less efficient,” Salomon said. “And they cost more – and not just from the initial capital costs perspective.  They cost more to operate and maintain and to finance.”

The Royale Inn at 6th and Paseo
Photo from Google Earth Street Views

Residents of the Northeast area of Kansas City have been trying for more than 15 years to get rid of the Royale Inn Motel. 

The now vacant motel was for years an eyesore, a trysting place, transient motel and the scene of numerous disturbances, drug deals and at least one murder.

“The Royale has been a thorn in the side of the Northeast,” is the way Northeast News Publisher Michael Bushnell put it when addressing a City Council committee on Thursday.

United Methodist Church of the Resurrection

A downtown Kansas City mainstream denomination church is bucking the trend of declining religious affiliation and shrinking church attendance.

The United Methodist  Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, established a downtown campus six years ago. 

Currently, Resurrection Downtown meets a brick commercial building at 1522 McGee that looks more like an industrial supply company than a church. But like the mega-church that gave it life, the downtown church is no average storefront church.  

aprium.com

What may have been the headquarters of Boss Tom Pendergast's bootlegging operations during the prohibition era is slated to be reborn as a boutique hotel.

Pendergast was smart enough to cover those tracks, if the bootlegging rumors were accurate. Officially, the building  at 2101 Central St. housed his non-alcoholic beverage businesses.

The building and the industrial-style building adjacent were build for the Pabst Brewing Company in the early 1900s.

KMBC

Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté is starting the year with his hands full, after another streak of violent crime.

So far, the city has seen eight homicides in the first ten days of January. This, following a particularly deadly end of 2015.

“I’ve been concerned (about violence) my entire life as a young male growing up in Kansas City," Forté told host Steve Kraske on Up to Date. "I stay awake at night I think, ‘Darryl what else can you do?’” 

Google Earth

Neighbors called the 1927 English Tudor-revival apartments charming and said they fit the character and history of the west edge of  Kansas City's Country Club Plaza.

Historic Kansas City Foundation preservation enthusiasts said the three half-timbered brick, stucco and stone buildings are examples of the work of prominent female Kansas City architect Nelle Peters and should be saved. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Updated after the city council meeting on January 7, 2016.

Now home to the American Jazz Museum and Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the historic 18th and Vine District was reborn from crumbling eastside buildings in the early 1990s.  The sales tax that helped finance its rescue bore the name of Kansas City's first African-American mayor, Emanuel Cleaver, who was then in office.

Wikipedia

A Kansas City Council Committee on Thursday endorsed the long-awaited new Midtown/Plaza Area Plan. Though the plan covers an area from 31st to 55th Street, State Line to Paseo and affects 27 neighborhoods, the peak interest was in what it prescribed for Kansas City's landmark Country Club Plaza.

This has been a matter of extra concern to Plaza purists because the second and current owner of the Plaza, Highwoods Properties, is offering it for sale.

Hyatt Hotels

Citizens for Responsible Government, the organization that collected petition signatures to send financing plans for a downtown Kansas City convention hotel has filed suit attempting to force the City Council to put their initiative on a ballot.

Rendering of BNIM Crossroads headquarters
Rendering courtesy of BNIM

Opponents of tax breaks for the proposed BNIM headquarters in the Crossroads Arts District may have defeated the proposal by default. 

A committee of petitioners turned in several thousand petition signatures Tuesday afternoon. Even if they were short of the 3,400 needed to let the voters decide on the TIF plan, they likely have 10 more days to submit the rest.

But time, not how the public might vote, is the issue for the $5.2 million in tax increment financing.

Rendering of BNIM Crossroads headquarters
Rendering courtesy of BNIM

Controversial tax breaks for a building in Kansas City's Crossroads Arts District advanced two days in a row but it will be at least another week before the full city council makes its final decision on it.

Until this week, the $5.2 million TIF for the new headquarters of architecture firm BNIM was on hold until after the first of the year at the insistence of the Kansas City Public Schools and parents in the district. 

The school district and the parents group said the schools could not afford the loss of tax revenue they had previously agreed to.

In the battle over tax breaks for developers of a downtown Kansas City convention hotel, the ball is once again in the city's court.

The committee of petitioners hand-delivered a letter to the City Clerk on Thursday spelling out in some detail legal arguments that the City Council did not have the right to refuse to honor petition signatures calling for a public vote on the city's financial underwriting of the hotel. 

The letter cites specific sections of the Missouri Constitution as well as court decisions in Missouri and federal courts.

A Kansas City council committee says concerns over the Paris terrorist attacks may help the city to get back on the list of metropolitan areas receiving federal emergency response grants.

The Kansas City area received as much as $8 million a year in Homeland Security money during the first seven years of  the Urban Areas Security Initiative, but the grants dwindled after 2010, with the city getting $1 million in some years and nothing in others, including 2015.

Hyatt Hotels

Only one Kansas City council member voted Thursday to honor the petitions and submit the city's plans for tax incentives and other financial considerations to the voters. 

The Northland's Heather Hall said she simply did not believe the downtown convention hotel would produce the economic benefits developers speak of and that she has concerns about the effect on local businesses, particularly in the catering industry.

Rendering courtesy of BNIM

The Kansas City council has approved tax breaks for a proposed building renovation in the Crossroads Arts District that has become a focal issue for groups that oppose incentives that the school district cannot afford. 

Ironically, the same project is being hailed as breaking new ground in the sustainability and green architecture movement.

The $13.2 million project would transform an old warehouse building into a headquarters and green architecture showcase for local architecture firm BNIM. 

The legal review committee of the Kansas City Council has accepted City Attorney Bill Geary's opinion and is recommending that the council not honor a recent petition drive that sought to force a public vote on the planned downtown convention hotel.

Geary opined that the state gives the council the power to approve Tax Increment Financing and allowing voters to overrule that would violate the state constitution. 

The Kansas City Council on Thursday grudgingly repealed the minimum wage ordinance it passed in July. 

The council instead endorsed efforts to get the minimum wage increased at the state level.

Council members unanimously said the repeal did not indicate abandonment of the minimum wage cause, and that the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the Missouri General Assembly.

KCUR

A new proposal to use public financing to renovate a building in the Crossroads Arts District received unexpected opposition this month, surprising the respected Kansas City architectural firm at the heart of the proposal and its developer. 

 

The most adamant objections to the proposed tax increment financing, or TIF, plan were from school district parents and the Urban Summit of Greater Kansas City. But Kansas City School District Interim Superintendent Al Tunis joined in, asking to renegotiate a payment-in-lieu-of taxes agreement on the building.

 

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