Published June 28th, 2023 at 11:30 AM3 minute read
By Kevin Collison
The KCATA has dropped an ambitious high-rise proposal at 10th and Main and is dissolving its transit-oriented development arm, RideKC Development Corp., an agency with a spotty track record.
Commissioners recently approved ending a contract with Live & Ride KC. The development group had proposed a 20-story mixed-use tower at the former transit center at 10th and Main owned by the KCATA.
“Currently, we cannot overcome the funding gap of $10 million,” KCATA spokeswoman Cindy Baker said in an email. “With the gap in funding, it was decided not to extend the agreement and to keep the property for now.”
And at their meeting today, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority commissioners plan to dissolve RideKC Development, an agency with a mixed record that’s been criticized about its thoroughness evaluating projects receiving tax incentives.
“(The KCATA) desires to move the transit economic development function within the KCATA organization,” according the resolution.
KCATA and RideKC Development officials declined to comment about their decision to dissolve the development agency.
During its five-year history, RideKC Development has struggled with proposals its initiated for KCATA-owned property, including a redevelopment plan for a parking lot northeast of Third and Grand, and now, the mixed-use tower proposed for 10th and Main.
Neither of the projects moved forward, although a city development agency later approved a 246-unit apartment plan at Third and Grand.
RideKC did support three private proposals, the 230-unit Jamestown Square apartment project by Milhaus near 39th and State Line Road; a 385-unit plan by Northpoint Development near 31st and Main, and the 300-unit Waldo74Broadway proposal by EPC Real Estate Group.
The KCATA board accepted those recommendations and approved property tax abatements for up to 75 percent for 20 years and a break on the sales tax for construction materials for the projects.
Critics however, said RideKC Development did not conduct a professional ‘but-for’ financial analysis similar to what’s done by city agencies; failed to adequately solicit input from taxing jurisdictions including the school district, and omitted affordable housing requirements.
The most controversial attempt by a developer to obtain tax incentives through RideKC Development occurred earlier this year. That’s when Mac Properties applied for a property tax abatement for its 300-unit redevelopment plan for Armour and Main.
Mac’s incentive request had been turned down by the Kansas City Council.
While RideKC Development recommended approval for the Mac incentives, that support prompted a storm of public protest and the application was turned down by the KCATA board in February.
RideKC Development also has been deeply involved with trying to attract a major development to the KCATA-owned former transit center property at 10th and Main. The land has been surplus since the agency opened a transit center in the East Village area.
It solicited proposals and recommended a development team early last year made up of Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate, the firm that developed the airport terminal, and Community Builders of Kansas City and Parson + Associates.
The group called itself Live & Ride KC. It proposed a tower would be about 20 stories tall and would set aside 20 percent of its apartments as affordable units. The number of apartments ranged from 170- to 240 units.
Other elements of the proposal include up to 30,000 square-feet of office space for the KCATA, a 10,000 square-foot mobility plaza and ground floor retail and café space.
While the development team had hoped to begin construction this year, negotiations with RideKC Development failed to gel. Observers suggest rising interest rates and construction costs, and the proposed affordable housing set aside made financing for the plan difficult.
Jason Parson said he hoped his team would be able to propose another development concept for the site to the KCATA.
“It may look different from what we initially studied,” he said. “The KCATA want to make sure it’s the best proposal for the site. I won’t say it’s completely dead.”