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Riverfront Affordable Housing Plan Denied Tax Credits, Lack of Mayoral Support Cited

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3 minute read

By Kevin Collison

A $15 million affordable apartment development proposed for the riverfront is floundering after being rejected for federal low-income tax credits, partly because it lacked the mayor’s support, according to Port KC officials.

The 75-unit Bridgeside Lofts project proposed by Prairie Fire Development is planned for a site near Berkley Riverfront Park controlled by Port KC. It calls for 60 percent of the units to be reserved as affordable housing with monthly rents going for $695 to $895.

But while the Port KC board supported the Prairie Fire project, its financing also relied on the developer receiving federal low-income housing tax credits.

Last week, the Missouri Housing Development Commission, which administers the federal low-income housing tax credit program in the state, turned down the Prairie Fire application, the Port KC development committee was told Monday.

Lack of support by Mayor Quinton Lucas was cited as a factor.

“It appears that it was due in part to it not being prioritized on Mayor Lucas’ KCMO priority project list,” according to a report prepared for the committee. “MHDC requests are always highly competitive.”

The proposed Prairie Fire riverfront apartment project. (Image from Prairie Fire Development)

Lucas, who has made affordable housing a policy goal, said his decision on which housing project applications he prioritized to the MHDC board was based on his staff recommendations.

“They were a little heavy on East Side development projects,” the mayor said.

The MHDC board did support federal low-income housing tax credits for six Kansas City affordable projects: Villa De Sol, a 120-unit project being pursued by McCormack Baron Salazar; Prospect Summit, a 23-unit project by Tallafero & Browne Real Estate;

NewView Place, a 66-unit project by FH Northeastview; Wornall Estates, a 30-unit project by Yarco Development; Gallery Lofts, a 48-unit project by Yarco, and 43 Antioch, a 66-unit project by Brinshore Development.

While the mayor said there is no formal limit to the number of project applications he can prioritize, the MHDC likes the amount manageable.

“If we keep it narrow, we’re more likely to be successful on our requests,” Lucas said.

“As for the Prairie Fire proposal, it’s not so much it’s not worthy. We’d be happy to evaluate it on a future application cycle.”

Port KC officials intend to continue supporting the Prairie Fire proposal, saying the agency believes quality affordable housing is an important part of its riverfront redevelopment effort.

“We will continue working toward that effort with or without tax credits,” according to the development report.

Kelley Hrabe of Prairie Fire could not be reached immediately for comment.

This building at 805 Pennsylvania is slated to be the new home of two USDA agencies.

In other matters, the Port KC development committee reluctantly accepted the Kansas City Council’s decision last month to shift revenues the agency expected to receive from an incentive deal that is bringing two federal agencies from Washington to Kansas City.

The Council decided to reduce the amount Port KC was to receive from the state Advanced Industrial Manufacturing (AIM) program. Port KC originally expected $6.1 million over 15 years to be used for infrastructure projects.

Instead, the Council cut that amount to $2 million to help reduce the city’s incentive package.

Port KC officials expressed concern state elected officials will take a harder position on the future use of AIM Zone job-creating incentives in Kansas City because of the Council decision. Part of the state program’s intent is to financially assist port authorities.

After lengthy discussion, the committee agreed to accept the Council position because it was critical to moving the plan forward to relocate the federal agencies downtown at 805 Pennsylvania.

“Missouri and the governor’s office have said ‘please don’t blow this up,'” said City Councilman Dan Fowler, who also is a member of the Port KC committee.

“We are around to benefit the city. We need to keep that in mind.”

The committee also was given an update on progress on other riverfront redevelopment projects:

–NorthPoint Development has purchased Port KC land and reached a development agreement required for a 350-unit apartment project on the riverfront just east of the Bar K restaurant and dog park.

–Port KC is continuing to negotiate with a developer who plans to build a five-story, 120-room boutique hotel on riverfront property.

–Port KC is continuing discussions with a developer who wants to build two, ten-story apartment towers on the riverfront along with some office and retail.

(Editor’s note: Beginning Dec. 2, CityScene KC has become a paid subscription publication)

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