Published August 29th, 2023 at 11:30 AM4 minute read
By Kevin Collison
Port KC growing influence as an economic development agency was on full display Monday with the board either approving or reviewing incentives for more than $1 billion in projects from the riverfront to Waldo.
Top of the list was unanimous approval to issue $800 million in revenue bonds along with accompanying incentives for a major development planned near the new KC Current women’s soccer stadium now going up on the riverfront.
Far afield from the river, the commissioners unanimously approved a $90 million bond and accompanying incentives for a 278-apartment project at 74th and Broadway in the Waldo neighborhood tentatively named 74 Broadway.
But the most discussion was over a proposed 328-unit project just west of the Country Club Plaza. That $140 million development would rise 13 stories on the east side of Belleview taking up two-thirds of the block between 47th and 48th streets.
The 4711 Belleview development planned by Lane4 Properties was approved by the City Council last year. It would be located on property that includes the former JJ’s restaurant location, which was destroyed in an explosion in 2013.
The Port KC board approved the framework of a deal that would provide the developer with a 20-year property tax abatement, 10 years at 85 percent, five years at 80 percent, and five years at 75 percent.
Other proposals have been made for developing the property along Belleview, but none have progressed as far as the Lane4 plan.
“The site has been vacant for 10 years,” said Brandon Buckley of Lane4.
“Three other projects at least have been proposed for this site, all three failed due to the challenges of the site. This project certainly wouldn’t pencil without your approvals.”
The 4711 Belleview proposal has the backing of top city officials, but as has often been the case, is opposed by the Kansas City School District.
Kathleen Pointer, a senior policy analysis for the school district, accused developers of “incentive shopping” by going to Port KC.
“People are coming here not because they’re getting the incentive they need, but the incentives they want,” she said.
“Every time we give dollars that are unnecessary to a development project we are taking dollars from schools.”
The site of the apartment proposal currently generates $41,000 annually in property taxes or $1.1 million over the life of the agreement. The abatement would save the developers $28.9 million in property taxes during that period.
The project would still yield $19.5 million in new property taxes during its term to taxing jurisdictions including the schools, a fact emphasized by Commissioner Katheryn Shields, who formerly represented the area on the City Council.
“The assumption from the school district is that if this project isn’t done with incentives than some other project will be done without incentives that will bring them this property tax,” Shields said.
“We have 10 years of evidence since the demise of JJ’s that hasn’t happened.”
The proposed market-rate development would include 108 studio apartments; 154 one-bedrooms; 45 two-bedrooms, and 21 three-bedrooms. The apartments would be built above a 418-space underground garage.
While the 4711 Belleview development does not include affordable units, the developers would contribute $1 million to the city’s Housing Trust Fund.
Port KC estimated that would subsidize the development of 73 apartments in other projects, meeting the city’s set-aside requirement for units affordable to people earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income.
The Metro Kansas City AMI for a one-person household per federal guidelines is about $67,700 and $77,500 for two people.
While the Port KC board unanimously approved the framework and incentives in the 4711 Belleview proposal, it still will have to consider its request to issue $143 million in revenue bonds for the project.
Buckley said if the necessary approvals are obtained, work is scheduled to begin next year with an opening in 2026.
The board’s consideration of the two other major projects on its agenda went quickly, since both had had their development agreements previously approved.
The board approved the $800 million bond for the project proposed on the riverfront near the KC Current stadium unanimously with little discussion. The project would be built in phases over 10 years.
The master developer is an affiliate of the women’s professional soccer club and its co-owners Chris and Angie Long. It would include more than 1,000 apartments in several towers, 210,000 square-feet of office space and 53,000 square feet of retail.
The Port KC board approved a 15-year property tax abatement for the commercial space, 70 percent for 10 years and 30 percent for five; and a 15-year abatement for the residential component, 95 percent for 10 years and 90 percent for five.
A sales tax exemption on construction materials also was approved. Because the land is publicly owned and doesn’t generate taxes currently, the development is still expected to yield $30 million for local taxing jurisdictions over 25 years.
While renderings have not been prepared, the development schedule presented to Port KC indicated the first phase would include a nine-story apartment project with later phases calling for 11-, 14- and 16-story apartment buildings.
A five-story office project also is part of the plan. The development would include 1,070 structured and surface parking spaces.
The 74 Broadway apartment development is planned for the current site of The Well at 7421 Broadway. EPC Real Estate Group is cooperating with the Lewellen family, the owner of The Well, on the project. A new Well would be located on the ground floor.
The Port KC board approved a 20-year property tax abatement starting at 90 percent the first year. It would then drop to 85 percent for years two through five; 75 percent, years six through 10; 55 percent, years 11- through 15, and 25 percent, years 16- through 20.
The $90 million, 278-unit development would include 25 studio; 176, one-bedroom, and 77 two-bedroom units. It also would set aside 20 percent of its units for households earning 60 percent AMI.
Construction on the six-story development, which includes a 364-space garage, could begin by late Fall or early next year and be completed in Fall 2026.