KCMO City Hall

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday: The ethics complaint against Councilwoman Jolie Justus has been dismissed.

A citizen filed the complaint on Sunday, alleging Justus had a conflict of interest serving on the airport selection committee because the law firm she works for, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, represented proposer Burns & McDonnell in litigation involving the Branson airport in 2013.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A decision on which company might build a new, single terminal at Kansas City International Airport, potentially a billion dollar project, is getting closer.

Kansas City councilmembers plan to pick one of four firms and must have ballot language approved by Aug. 24 if the issue is to make it on the November general election ballot.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Many health care advocates breathed a sigh a relief after the Senate’s recent efforts to scrap the Affordable Care Act failed in late July.

But local and national participants in a rally at Kansas City’s City Hall Wednesday afternoon had a message for those concerned about the fate of healthcare: Don’t let up.

Sgt. 1st Class John Fries / 81st Regional Support Command

From homelessness to suicide, we hear a lot about the serious issues facing American veterans. Today, we explore how business-ownership can play a part in reintegrating some former service members to a happy, healthy civilian life. Then, Kansas City, Missouri, officials Sherri McIntyre and Joe Blankenship help parse what's behind recent delays in projects to paint bike lanes in the downtown loop.

Lexi Churchill / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City will take bids for building a new, single terminal at Kansas City International airport after all.  

Earlier this month, city officials announced that they would consider an offer from Kansas City based Burns & McDonnell to design, build and finance a new airport terminal to replace the horseshoe shaped terminals at KCI. Burns & Mac asked for exclusivity on the deal, but some council members wanted competitive bids on the enormous project, and last week another engineering firm, AECOM, from Los Angeles, tendered one, unsolicited.

Dank Depot / Flickr - CC

Despite concerns, a resigned Kansas City Council committee today recommended the full council put a petition to reduce penalties for marijuana possession on the ballot this April. 

The recommendation came after Tuesday's Missouri Supreme court decision, which ordered the city to put a minimum wage petition — which had previously been declined by the council  for contradicting state law — on the ballot. 

Courtesy Kansas City Missouri City Hall

Mayor Sly James asked a Kansas City Council committee on Wednesday to recommend spending $250,000 to begin planning for a three-day arts festival to take place in Swope Park next September.

Those funds would go toward hiring of a project manager who would spend the next year developing the festival, which would include visual, performing, and digital arts, as well as an educational component, all taking advantage of the assets in Swope Park: Starlight Theatre, the park's pavilion, and the Southeast Community Center.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

After a four-month absence, a 40-foot tall, 35-foot-wide, 24,000-pound aluminum sculpture by artist R.M. Fischer has returned to the top of its 300-foot-tall pylon at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Courtesy Amy Greene Vines

Two cars cruise into Kansas City. In one, a man and woman battling poverty and bad luck try to outrun their past. The other is a battered old Jeep Wrangler, in which two estranged sisters attempt to reconnect after a wedding catastrophe.

The stories seem as different as can be but share a key factor: They are the first two feature films to be shot in Kansas City after the establishment of the Film and Media rebate incentive.

Iknowthegoods / Wikimedia Commons

After months of debate, Thursday's Kansas City Council vote was unanimous, but the $7 million commitment had reverted to a level similar to the first proposal made seven months ago.

In the meantime, estimates for improving the historic Jazz District had ballooned to as much as $12 million to start. The remainder of the $27.6 million total cost is expected to be divided into two more phases over a three-year period.

Supporters called it a most-expensive-case scenario, predicting that private investment would end up paying a large portion of the expense.

Developers and neighborhood opponents continue to negotiate on a planned apartment complex at 17th and Madison.
Rendering courtesy of EPC Real Estate

The Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee of the Kansas City Council will postpone a vote on a controversial West Side apartment complex until Aug. 10.

The measure was sent back to committee for a second hearing June 22 after neighborhood groups expressed concerns that the upscale housing would raise property taxes in the area.

Developer John Coon at the time said the worries were unfounded and offered to meet with neighborhood groups to negotiate a compromise of some sort.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

City Council discussions have produced a new, scaled back proposal for improvements to the Historic 18th and Vine Jazz District.

Councilman Jermaine Reed tried to bring a $27.6 million, three-phase plan to a vote in last Thursday's legislative session, but called for a postponed vote when support failed to materialize.

The main concerns other council members expressed had to do with the total financial commitment on the part of the city and making that commitment before exploring the possibility of reducing the burden through private investment.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

With three last-minute alternatives on the table and no apparent consensus, Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed backed down Thursday on his plan to force a vote on Jazz District improvements.

Reed had already softened his original stance that the council should fully commit to $27.6 million in three-phase funding for the 18th and Vine area.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

As the Kansas City Council considers more than $27 million in new investments in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District, leaders of the district’s oldest landmark want to make sure City Hall respects the special status of the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

It’s a sacred place not just because alcohol flows legally there after hours.

Sunflower Development

Beacon Hill soon could be joining Kansas City's downtown hotel boom.

On Wednesday, the City Council Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee endorsed plans for a $13 million, 90-room hotel project at 24th and Troost in the Beacon Hill redevelopment area. It would operate as a Best Western Plus.

The master plan for the area, created when Emanuel Cleaver was mayor, focuses on affordable housing, principally town homes. But Leonard Graham of design firm Taliaferro and Browne says the hotel is consistent with the original goal. 

Developers and neighborhood opponents continue to negotiate on a planned apartment complex at 17th and Madison.
Rendering courtesy of EPC Real Estate

Neighborhood opponents of a proposed apartment development in Kansas City's Westside outnumbered its supporters 3 to 1 at a second Kansas City Council committee hearing on the project Wednesday.

The development would replace a warehouse at 17th and Madison.

A second public hearing was prompted by the number of objections to the committee's original decision to approve the zoning and design at an earlier hearing with a delayed start. Many neighbors said they had to leave that meeting because it was so late; before the matter of the apartment project came up.

A traffic engineer fine-tunes the InSync system from a remote computer.
Rhythm Engineering/InSync

A new $700,000 computerized traffic system installed by a private company to give Kansas City streetcar riders a better experience is reducing travel times for all vehicles in the downtown streetcar zone, according to the company.  

Jesse Manning of Rhythm Engineering, a Lenexa, Kansas, firm, told a City Council committee last week that the smart traffic system has reduced travel times between the River Market and Union Station by 31 percent northbound and 23 percent southbound during morning peak traffic hours.

Clay Chastain
Video frame courtesy of TV-9

It took just 1,709 valid signatures to qualify for a public vote. And Clay Chastain turned in 47 more than that.

But a place for his latest light rail plan is not assured a place on the ballot yet.

Chastain, who lives in Virginia most of the time, expects resistance from the Kansas City Council to his $2 billion plan.

Stinging from the slap of having a previous proposal blocked from the ballot because city attorneys found court support for their contention that the measure as put forth was illegal, the activist has tried to ward off another refusal.

Developers and neighborhood opponents continue to negotiate on a planned apartment complex at 17th and Madison.
Rendering courtesy of EPC Real Estate

Concerned neighbors, many of them senior citizens, showed up at Kansas City City Hall last week to object to a proposed apartment project at 17th and Madison on the city's Westside. But few had a chance to testify.

According to former city councilman Robert Hernandez and other community leaders, many were retired and low-income persons who worried that the upscale apartments would drive up their property taxes and force them out of their homes.

Vision of rebuild Linwood Shopping Center
Rendering by Builders by Design, LLC

The Prospect corridor in Midtown Kansas City has been without a full-service grocery store for a little over 10 years.

That is how long it has been since owners threw in the towel on the store at the old Linwood Shopping Center.

The area could have a real grocery store back soon – probably a SunFresh store. But, city staff estimates it will cost taxpayers up to a half-million dollars a year to underwrite the project.

Councilman Jermaine Reed, whose district the shopping center would serve, called support for the project a council responsibility.

Developers and neighborhood opponents continue to negotiate on a planned apartment complex at 17th and Madison.
Rendering courtesy of EPC Real Estate

An apartment project proposed for 17th and Madison drew continued opposition this week despite concessions by developers. 

The  Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee held a hearing Wednesday on a scaled-back version of the EPC Real Estate proposal in which the developer reduced the height of the apartment building, cut back the number of apartments from 60 to 48 and reduced the amount of retail space included in the project.

Neighborhood groups urged the committee to reject the project, citing several reasons. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A four hour hearing Wednesday left a Kansas City Council committee undecided on the fate of a $27.6 million plan for improvements to the 18th and Vine Jazz District. 

The request for city participation had virtually quadrupled from the $7 million version first proposed.

The plan had grown in its 6-month life to include historic preservation, infrastructure improvements, a fountain, outdoor amphitheater, apartments, retail and a connecting corridor to the Crossroads Arts District.

KC Police

An audit released this week concludes that with tight budgets and unfilled officer positions, the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department should re-evaluate its policies on allowing officers to take police vehicles home with them in their off-duty hours.

The police do not agree.

The audit found that 45 percent of the police fleet is assigned for take-home with no tracking of mileage or how they are used after duty hours.

A boutique hotel is planned for the Pendgergast Building and old Pabst brewery.
aprium.com

The full Kansas City Council on Thursday gave unanimous approval to tax abatement and other incentives for planned hotels in the heart of
downtown in the Crossroads Arts District.

Both involve the renovation of historic buildings: the old Federal Reserve building at 9th and Grand and the Pendergast Building and former Pabst brewery in the Crossroads.

visitkc.com

A Kansas City Council Committee has approved a contract extension of up to five years for California-based company Ticketmaster to continue to ticketing for events at city-owned convention and entertainment facilities.

McGaskey, executive director for the venues, says one factor that set Ticketmaster apart from two competing bidders was a $45,000 annual Ticketmaster allowance for advertising to help promote events. He said the assistance is a “nice incentive” to offer some event sponsors. 

courtesy A. Zahner Company

By a unanimous vote, the Kansas City City Council approved $1.6 million in funding on Thursday to repair one of the iconic sculptures called Sky Stations on top of Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City.

"I think one of the most famous, or perhaps sometimes infamous, pieces of art that have been placed in this city are the Sky Stations," says Councilman Scott Wagner of the sculptures, popularly known as "hair curlers."

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.

Much of the business development success in the metro today is due, in part, to TIF — tax increment financing — that has attracted investment and built big projects. But TIF also comes with a cost and increasingly, some say that cost is too high.

Guest:

  • Kevin Collison is a KCUR contributor who covers development in Kansas City. 

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.

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